Video: SECC911 April 14th Board Meeting

SECC911 Board Amplifies Racoms Signal Before Coverage Area is Fully Tested

And Calls for Amplifying Its Demand to be Recognized by Mediacom as a new Governmental Body for Special Cable Pricing

DAVENPORT, IOWA | On April 7th the SECC911 Board had a regularly scheduled monthly board meeting. Only Sunderbruch and O'Boyle showed up - Freemire, Claudy and Gluba were not in attendance.

Members of IFA presented the questions below to the two board members, SECC911 Director Brian Johnson and Scott County Administrator Dee Bruemmer. Since they had no quorum there was no meeting.

Here is the link to the agenda and board packet for the April 7th meeting.
The primary item on the agenda (and outlined in the Packet) was a "dead spot" in a portion of Davenport known as Hillendale on the new proprietary radio system implemented by Racom for the public safety departments of Davenport, Bettendorf and Scott County.

Due to the high volume of public safety calls in Hillendale this dead spot in the system needs fixed right away, explains the memo from Brian Johnson to the board seeking $17K in expenses approved.

There were approximately eight tax payers in attendance on April 7th hoping to get answers to questions like these below. The meeting was re-scheduled for a week later, April 14th at 12pm noon and announced the Monday prior.
April 14, 2011 SECC Packet (464.8 KB)
April 14, 2011 SECC Minutes (94.6 KB)
April 14, 2011 SECC Agenda (10.1 KB)
Below is the 20 min video of the meeting where Frank Claudy (from MEDIC), Mike Freemire (Bettendorf Mayor), Tom Sunderbruch (County Supervisor), Bill Gluba (Davenport Mayor) were in attendance and Martin O'Boyle (Eldridge Mayor) was absent. Brian Hitchcock (SECC911 Director) is in the foreground, Dee Breummer along with Bettendorf Administrator are heard off camera to the right.

Watch the April 14th Video at Scott County IFA TV on YouTube:

Prior to the start of this meeting (not shown in this clip) Diane Holst provided a series of new questions to the board. There was some discussion of her questions after the meeting, but not filmed. (These questions will be posted later at this blog.)

AFTER the $17K allocation for the Bi-Directional Radio Amplifier (with no bids) is unanimously approved, the board hears out Johnson's report that includes an attempt to answer some of the questions submitted at the April 7th meeting. Those questions are below. Finally the board discusses with staff their mutual frustration of Mediacom not recognizing the SECC911 as a government entity.
Questions for the SECC911 Board
(provided in writing at:)
April 7, 2011 - Board Meeting (that had no quorum and did not convene)
1. What does "95% of the County" exactly mean, with regards to Racom's obligation for communication coverage?
Does this mean 95% of the time that a radio is keyed or used to call or rec a message, anywhere in Scott County, it is operable?
Does this mean that 95% of the geographic area of Scott County has 100% communication coverage?
2. With regards to the Bi-Directional Radio Amplifier Equipment Summary Memo (not dates), what does "Since this is a small area with coverage issues, this would be a SECC responsibility to resolve" mean?
What size of area without coverage would make it a Racom responsibility to resolve?
3. Who determined that Bi-Directional Amp (BDA) needs to be installed in that area to increase radio coverage? When and how was this determined?
4. Why was there no bidding to pursue the BDA?
5. Is this capital improvement able to be used for other purposes other than amplifying the Racom system?
6. Are taxpayers being asked to foot the bill for an improvement to a system leased from Racom?
7. Was there a testing of signal strength in/out in the Hillendale area prior to accepting the Racom system? What was the outcome of that test?
At the April 14th meeting (video above), SECC911 Director Brian Johnson explains that the dead spot for radio transmission/reception in Davenport is an area that is in a ravine and additionally has metal buildings - trailer homes - that make it very difficult for the radios to work. "800 (mhz) signals can go through 10-20 feet of concrete but steel sometimes presents a problem."

He also explains that part of the problem with the signal for Davenport police is that they carry and use their radios on their hips, adjacent to their other equipment like tazers and that is interfering with the signal.

Johnson explains that getting this system ($6M of equipment & services) operable is "like buying a new car" there will always be things you find out about it that need fixed. He goes on to explain that in his experience in other systems (and Scott County is the smallest) he has worked in, "No matter how much money you sink into them you're going to have some problematic areas that have to be dealt with just like this."

Johnson also states that Racom has recently received their equipment to mount to a van and conduct a grid test of the Scott County area and determine if their coverage is indeed 95% as dictated in the contract.

And, Johnson goes on to explain that if the area they just approved a $17K expenditure to boost the signal in (Hillendale) falls within the 95% coverage area, Racom will provide a rebate.

[NOTE: Taxpayers just footed the bill for $17K to fix a system that they previously invested $6M in and the provider of the system has not even determined whether the coverage provided is within the specifications agreed upon in the contract. And now the provider, Racom, is going to perform a self-test to determine if they are in compliance -- after the fact.]

Johnson explains there is a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. May 19th at the SECC911 building.

At the fifteen minute mark Johnson explains that Mediacom has "been resistant to everything we've tried to do and wants to charge us $10K to get into the system and $850 per month there after." He explains that the SECC911 building needs cable hookup in order to be able to watch the news and weather in the Emergency Operations Center.

It is explained that Mediacom does not recognize the dispatch center as a governmental unit and wants to treat SECC911 as a business and thus it has provided market rate pricing for services. To which Frank Claudy, the representative of the private sector MEDIC ambulance service, states that this is unacceptable and that the communities served "would not consider them (Mediacom) a community partner" and that this needs to be "amplified" to the highest corporate levels "for this florid disregard for an improvement to the system."

Davenport mayor Gluba explains how the city no longer has any negotiating authority with Mediacom due to a new state franchising law.

[NOTE: Davenport's franchise agreement was being negotiated and was tabled by the city council during Mayor Brook's term and when the state franchise law kicked in for cable providers, the city was out of contract with Mediacom. Had they moved forward with the independent franchise agreement prior the legislation being signed, they would not be subject to the state law during the length of that new agreement.]

Claudy goes on to say that he "does not speak for the mayors," in this matter but he "does speak for the medical centers."

The only thing Bettendorf mayor Freemire says in the whole meeting is a comment on the Mediacom negotiations, "The unfortunate part is, we are not surprised." To which Johnson asks, "Do you want me to order up a DEA for that?" No one responds to Johnson and Bruemmer explains she will take the board's concerns and disapproval of Mediacom's lack of recognition to Mediacom in their future negotiations. Sunderbruch states, "It seems to me that it should be a front page story."

[NOTE: One does have to wonder how a $28M "improvement to the system" that has been in the works for five years somehow missed building into the infrastructure the service that allows the staffers to watch cable news and weather channel? Why is this supposed critical resource for the Emergency Operations Center just now being negotiated?]

The next SECC911 board meeting is May 5th at 5:30 p.m. and is held at the County Building in downtown Davenport.

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