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Keokuk Drops Dispatch Center Lawsuits

Aug 16, 2016

The city of Keokuk filed three lawsuits during its lengthy dispute over LeeComm, Lee County’s consolidated emergency dispatch center. With the dispute seemingly resolved, Keokuk has dropped all three lawsuits.

The dispute surfaced when Keokuk refused to sign a contract to extend LeeComm. The city objected to the length of the deal, the lack of procedure for responding to complaints, and several other points.

Keokuk was the only member of LeeComm that refused to sign the contract.

As the city tried to gain information about LeeComm, it sent Freedom of Information requests to the remaining members of the dispatch center.

Keokuk claimed the city of West Point and the Lee County Fire Chiefs Association did not comply by failing to send information including emails about LeeComm. So it sued the association and its president and the city, its mayor, city clerk, and city administrator.

A couple days later, the city sued LeeComm, Lee County, and several others. The city said it was an attempt to make sure LeeComm did not stop answering 911 calls from Keokuk residents because the city would not sign the contract.

A new set of negotiations began while the parties involved started lining up legal counsel. Mike Short, Lee County Attorney, led the talks, which resulted in a new contract for LeeComm with just four members.

  • Keokuk
  • Fort Madison
  • Lee County
  • Lee County Emergency Management Commission

The new contract was filed with the state in late July and the new LeeComm board has not set a date for its first meeting.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett said with the new contract in place, there was no need to continue the lawsuit against LeeComm and Lee County. As for the other two lawsuits, he said it was not Keokuk’s responsibility to regulate Iowa’s open records law.

District Court Judge Michael Schilling signed off on the dismissal of the lawsuits on August 11. He ordered the city of Keokuk to pay all associated fees.