River Cities’ Reader
• Vol. 19 No. 791 • November 10 - 22, 2011
Business • Politics • Arts • Culture • Now You Know • RiverCitiesReader.com
o my amazement, nearly every timeI mention the new SECC911, I findresidents have no idea that we haveconsolidated multiple jurisdictions’ emer-gency dispatching and law-enforcement re-cord-keeping into a single new building andoperation. What a shame. Especially becausethe Scott Emergency Communications Cen-ter (SECC) is now the county’s second-largestbudget item, and is funded using a newly established “no cap” taxing authority. Thismeans taxpayers can be endlessly tappedfor any and all of the SECC’s funding needswithout consent from our elected county andcity representatives.Thanks to emergency-managementlegislation called “28E” passed by theIowa legislature and signed into law by former Governor Chet Culver, our localgovernments ceded authority for a criticalcomponent of public-safety services toan independent, unelected board that isanswerable to no one, least of all the peoplewho pay for it. The SECC is a classic exampleof government run amok.Eldridge resident Diane Holst, a civic heroby any standard, has followed the SECC fromits inception. She is so far ahead of the gamein terms of knowledge, and connecting thedots, that she shames the supervisors, andeven staff, with her inquiries, often evidencedby their inability to competently respond.Scott County is lucky to have Ms.Holst. Because if you think your electedrepresentatives are managing the businessof the county, think again. The vast majority of the elected leaders are clueless about thedetails of how the taxpayers’ money is beingspent. This is evidenced by merely attendingany board meeting. County staff is morethan happy to perpetuate this arrangement,because it leaves them free to spend taxdollars with impunity. It certainly explainswhy the staff nearly always gets a pass onincomplete, vague explanations when Ms.Holst presents common-sense, relevantquestions.The institutional laziness, incompetence,and never-saw-a-new-taxing-authority-I-didn’t-love/let-me-rubber-stamp-that-budget mentality of our elected supervisorsis embarrassing at best, infuriating at worst.In the October 13 SECC Board meeting,County Board and SECC Board Chair TomSunderbruch could not contain his rudenesstoward Ms. Holst when she voiced herconcerns over safety issues. She suggestedthat an apology to our law enforcement wasin order from the SECC Board for theirprevious dismissive attitudes with regard tothe rank-and-file’s concerns about the newSECC system – concerns that are absolutely founded, as this issue’s cover story illustrates.“If you read the open-meetings law of Iowa,”Sunderbruch stated, “we don’t have to allowyou to speak. So unless you have somethingnew to say, we’ve heard enough.”Technically, Sunderbruch is correct. Andtherein lies part of the problem. The only time the public is mandated an opportunity to address these supposed stewards of ourtax dollars is during a public hearing forsuch items as bonding for debt to pay forno-bid contracts for radios costing taxpayersmillions. Sunderbruch’s reaction to Holst’swell-documented concerns exposes hisinferior understanding of the issues thathave plagued the SECC – an unacceptabledemeanor from such a leader, consideringthe magnitude of SECC.Bettendorf Alderwoman and mayoralcandidate Patricia Melinee expressedher concerns in 2007 over the loss of city jurisdiction over dispatching if the county controls the funds. Her concerns weredismissed by most as “overwrought,” whenshe should be commended for proactiveproblem-solving. And then-DavenportAlderman Keith Meyer, in an attempt toengage the split Bettendorf council (which voted 4-3 to join SECC) in a dialogue priorto a vote, was called “out of order” by then-County Board Chair Jim Hancock, and the vote was rushed through.Does one size fit all? Is consolidationof government services among multiple jurisdictions efficient? In theory, perhaps.But the SECC is a newly created governmententity, different from any other in ScottCounty and dangerously unaccountable tothe taxpayers, therefore highly susceptible toballooning out of control relative to expensesand/or scope of services.Consider that, before it opened its doors,the project was sold to the taxpayers as acost savings of nearly $5 million over 20years, with a $2-million, 6,000-square-footbuilding. That’s how it was advertised. Butthat’s not what taxpayers got. The projectexploded into a $7.3-million, 27,500-square-foot building, with equipment, radios, andsoftware ratcheting up the price tag to $28million, just for starters.The study used to justify the project tothe public is now being heralded by theadministrators as “flawed,” and merely “a guideline.” Never mind those termswere referred to in the intergovernmentalagreement as governing the project, via acommissioned study that specified the SECC.This is a typical bureaucratic ploy, and only
Who’s Running the Show?
Nov. 17, 2011 - 5:30-8pm
“3rd Annual Party with a Purpose”
- toraise money for holiday gifts & care for QCseniors. For info go to
or call 563-265-1HAT (1428).
J o h n D o e
November 5 - December 10All QC Walgreens Locations
Want to make a difference this holiday season? YOU can be Santa toa local senior who needs a friend during the holidays when youparticipate in the “Be a Santa to a Senior” gift program at Walgreens.
From November 5th to December 10th, go to any of the15 Quad Cities Walgreens, take a name off the Senior Santatree, buy a gift from their wish list, and return it toWalgreens. It’s that simple.
For more information go to CASIseniors.org or call Home Instead at563-359-0027.
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by Kathleen McCarthykm@rcreader.com
WORDS FROM THE EDITOR
October Crossword Answers