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Casino meeting to happen, despite council inaction

Casino developer Dan Kehl and Davenport officials will update the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on the Rhythm City Casino situation Thursday, November 21st, 2013. It comes a day after the Davenport City Council failed to take action on a new development agreement between the City, the Riverboat Development Authority, and developer Dan Kehl.

Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting was a chance to finally put the casino issue to rest and head to Thursday’s meeting in agreement.

“I thought it was important that we get some kind of consensus of the Council to take to the Commission tomorrow,” said Alderman Gene Meeker.

Instead, the vote to discuss a new, three-way agreement between the City, the RDA, and Kehl split the Council 5-5. Aldermen needed a super majority of 8 votes to suspend the rules, discuss and vote on the resolution.

“We could’ve gotten that resolved, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” said Meeker.

Several aldermen said the decision came down to timing, with some only receiving the new contract documents on Tuesday, after the RDA agreed upon new financial terms on Monday.

“You get a lawyer to buy a house. We want to make sure we have some lawyers taking a look at these, because these contracts have about 10 zeros after the comma,” said Alderman Bill Boom.

Aldermen said the decision to delay the vote was not due to continued disagreements over revenue splits.

“I think we’re past — I hope we’re past — the .4 percent, .9 percent, point-whatever on this thing,” said Meeker.

“I think to the Racing and Gaming Commission, we’re going to say, ‘Look, we’re fine with the financial agreements. We just haven’t had enough time or expert eyes looking at the documents themselves,’” added Boom.

Aldermen also remain confident that the State Commission won’t pull the gaming license as negotiations drag on.

“Actually, Davenport was one of the first licenses that was issued on the casino program, so I would think they would not do that, but I’m sure they’re frustrated along with the rest of us,” said Meeker.

Despite the lack of action, Kehl’s attorney said that Kehl still plans to update the Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday morning. He expects that the Isle will extend the deadline for executing a purchase agreement, and Kehl hopes to get final approval from the Commission at its January meeting.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. in Johnston, Iowa at the Stoney Creek Inn. RDA Board President Mary Ellen Chamberlin and their attorney Bob Gallagher will both be at Thursday’s meeting too.