Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 13, 2008

Sullivan’s Salvos 12/16/08

It is not always a popular position, but I frequently take this opportunity to defend government. I firmly believe that government is inherently good. It exists so we can coexist.

Sure, sometimes individual elected officials make poor decisions. Sometimes elective bodies, collectively, make poor decisions. But I still stand by the mission of government. We are much better off because of the efforts of our governments.

There are plenty of people who make a living criticizing everything about government. It is all bad. We’d be better off without it. Government employees are all liars and crooks, incompetent, or both. I spend a lot of time fighting this perception.

Unfortunately, people who believe as I do were dealt yet another blow this week with the circus surrounding Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

I will admit, when I first heard the transcript, I laughed. Between the salty language and unbelievable audacity, it was hard to keep a straight face.

But in the long run, those of us who believe in government were harmed by this incident, just as we were harmed by Tom DeLay, Scooter Libbey, Mark Foley, Richard Nixon, and anyone who abuses the power of elective office. This just gives more ammunition to the folks who say, “They are all crooks, and I do not trust any of them.”

I still believe in government as a force for good. I hope you do not get too distracted by these incidents, and recognize that governments at all levels do a lot of good things.

Johnson County elected officials and Department Heads recently met with members of our Legislative delegation to discuss issues that affect County government.

County governments have traditionally had a troubled relationship with the Iowa Legislature. Unfunded mandates, program cuts, and a lack of communication were the norm.

All of this changed in 2006. Democratic control of the House, Senate, and Governorship has resulted in several pieces of legislation that counties had been seeking for years. Even hardcore Republican Supervisors admit that the past two years have been good ones for local governments.

As is usually the case, counties are seeking increased funding in several areas. This year, Johnson County advocated for increased funding for roads, trails, and mental health services. There were also discussions regarding passenger rail, election law, weapons permits, and sex offender laws. I sincerely hope we can make progress on some of these issues.

We are blessed with an outstanding group of Legislators… it is great to know that we have people on our side in Des Moines!

Local governments are in the midst of budget discussions. As we do this, it is worth doing some comparisons. I talked about my own tax bill at Thanksgiving. My home in Iowa City is valued at $162,000. I pay just under $3000 per year in property taxes - $500 of that to Johnson County.

What do I get for $500? The best Department of Public Health in Iowa. The best Conservation Department in Iowa. The best Ambulance service in Iowa. The best Medical Examiner service in Iowa. The best paratransit service (SEATS) in Iowa.

Services for our veterans. Significant funding for the Crisis Center, DVIP, Shelter House, Free Med, Elder Services, MECCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, UAY, Neighborhood Centers, Visiting Nurses, and 4Cs, just to name a few. The whole system of supports for people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. General Assistance for our poorest residents.

Juvenile Court Services and the Department of Human Services get places to work. The County Attorney serves as our local prosecutor. The Sheriff patrols the unincorporated areas of the county, and operates the jail. The Auditor runs all our elections. The Recorder maintains all our vital records. My home gets assessed. Our Treasurer collects taxes, then invests County money and doles shares out to other taxing entities.

Emergency Management services are provided countywide, as well as enhanced 911 services. Planning and Zoning directs and manages growth in the County. The County GIS system provides valuable mapping data for numerous uses – including saving lives during the flood. All this and much, much, more. For $500.

Am I thankful for the services I get from Johnson County for my $500? You’re goddamned right I am! I am proud of Johnson County, and I am proud to pay taxes to support these efforts. The taxes I pay to Johnson County are a great value!

And how about this for comparisons: taxpayers in Johnson County, Iowa will pay $191.3 million for total Iraq war spending approved to date. That is correct - those figures are the cost for Johnson County alone! And it does not include the services that will be required for injured veterans and their families. (Source:

That is more than the combined annual budget of Johnson County and the Iowa City Community School District.

DID YOU KNOW? Beginning in February, Johnson County taxpayers will not be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent annually because county departments are now housed in county-owned buildings.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website- .

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rod - Nice to know you're right up thre with "Reverend" Wright and governor Blogo in your use of language. Shame! How we expect our young people to demonstrate self-respect and to be come God fearing people when elected officials don't!

December 19, 2008 at 9:53 AM  

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