Davenport Civil Rights Commission Director Latrice Lacey was in the spotlight for a lot of 2018 and most of it was not good. This year looks a lot like last year for Lacey thanks to her latest court filing, Trial Court Case ID 05771 CVCV057494 filed with the Polk County Courts on January 4, 2019: Latrice Lacey vs. City of Davenport, Iowa.
No, it is not a filing related to her role with the Civil Rights Commission on behalf of a citizen seeking justice through the department Lacey heads, nor is it a filing related to the allegation that she assaulted a man with a sledgehammer in April. This filing stems from a dispute with the city over property she owns at 128 Hillcrest Avenue in Davenport and the city's decision to send a "nuisance mowing" contractor to the property in September, 2018.
According to her filing, Lacey claims City of Davenport staff performed an inspection of her property in August, 2018, the staff determined the property did not meet code pursuant to ordinance for maintenance of boulevard and private property, and in September "nuisance mowers" arrived to provide maintenance for the property. In her filing, Lacey refers to it as "weed abatement", for which she was billed.
Unhappy with the way the City of Davenport involved itself in maintaining her property, Lacey filed an appeal of the fee she was charged for the weed abatement and a hearing was held on December 4, 2018 by Susanne Knutsen, City Representative Administrative Hearing Officer.
Lacey states in her filing that "...the Hearing Officer entered Findings, Conclusion and a Decision finding that the [City of Davenport's] actions were appropriate when they:
(a) Declared a violation of Davenport of Municipal Code 8.14.015;
(b) Issued a work order to perform weed abatement, billed to [Lacey]"
The January 4, 2019 filing in Polk County District Court "seeks judicial review from the adverse decision of the City of Davenport concluding that the nuisance abatement carried out on September 16, 2018 pursuant to Davenport Municipal Code 8.14.015."
So, when Lacey did not agree with the City's actions related to weed abatement on her property, she filed an appeal with the City but she did not like the hearing officer supporting the City's actions, and therefore Lacey decided to file a civil lawsuit in Polk County claiming the hearing officer's Final Order "is erroneous and prejudicial to the Substantive Due Process Rights of [Lacey]..."
In the court filings, Lacey is listed as both the Petitioner and the Petitioner's Attorney. The online docket entry for the case shows Lacey paid $185.00 in court costs related to the filing. In the Criminal Charges/Deposition section of the online docket entry says "no charges found" but it is unclear whether litigation is ongoing. Paragraph 14 of the filing states that Lacey "requests that this Court establish a briefing schedule for the parties," so the case may not be resolved yet.
Davenport Municipal Code 8.14.045 (Violation-Penalty) identifies the fines for municipal code violators as $100 for first offense, $150 for second offense, and $250 for third offense. Lacey has already paid $185 in court costs - how much money is she willing to spend (and force the City of Davenport to spend) to appeal the denial of her appeal of a $100 fine imposed by the City (and upheld by the Hearing Officer)? And how much company time is Lacey committing to address a personal civil matter with the city that employs her?
I have a feeling 2019 will be an interesting year, as long as Latrice Lacey is living and working in Davenport, Iowa.
Lacey's filing is posted in this blog.