Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 21, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 2/24/09

Happy Mardis Gras! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

I am really tired of hearing, either directly or implied, that only property owners matter. Unfortunately, this seems to be prevailing opinion amongst “movers and shakers” in Johnson County.

A few quick facts: as of 2007, Johnson County had just over 54,000 residential units. 55% of those were owner occupied. That means we have over 24,300 rental units. It is very likely that 50,000 Johnson County residents are renters.

But these 50,000 people might as well not exist. Because all the “movers and shakers” care about are people who pay property taxes. Part of this is understandable – people tend to hang out with others of their same age and class. Our “movers and shakers” are virtually all white, predominantly over 45, and definitely all property owners. These are just about the only people with whom our local leaders interact. The “Invisible Man” is alive and well… but he is a she, and she is a renter!

I have had people call me and ask why renters got to vote on certain issues. “They don’t even pay property taxes!” scream the callers. Of course, this attitude ignores the fact that renters make it possible for property owners to pay those property taxes. Plus renters contribute payroll, income, and sales tax revenues.

Throughout history, many so-called “democracies” have limited voting rights to property owners. Thankfully, enlightened leaders moved the US in a different direction. Unfortunately, we have forgotten the idea that “all men are created equal.”

The bottom line is that too many of our leaders, both elected and unelected, look at our fellow human beings as taxpayers first, and human beings second.

Renters, if you want to improve this situation, you need to gather a couple friends together speak up. Write E-mails, make phone calls, show up at meetings, and stress that you matter.

I recently finished an interesting article in the February edition of National Voter, the official publication of the League of Women Voters. I quote:

“Between 1940 and 1970, a period of economic expansion unparalleled in world history, the top marginal income rate never dipped below 70%. This was also a period of unprecedented public investment in roads, sewers, utilities, schools, higher education, and military spending. In only 14 years of the 95 years we have been taxing income has the marginal rate dipped to the current 35%.”

Income taxes work. Period. The Iowa Legislature missed a golden opportunity when they failed to work with Senator Bolkcom on his proposal to replace some property taxes with income taxes.

The Eighth Annual Night of a Thousand Dinners will be held on March 5th from 6-8 p.m. at Old Brick. The Dinner will be one of thousands being hosted around the world as part of the Night of a Thousand Dinners - an international initiative coordinated to raise funds for Adopt-A-Minefield addressing the global landmine crisis.

Every year nearly 20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines. According to UNICEF, 30-40% of all mine victims are children. There are more than 110 million active landmines buried in the ground in at least 84 countries.

Sponsored by: Iowa City Human Rights Commission, West Branch Friends Church, Iowa Peace Corps Association, Montessori Children's Garden, Iowa City Federation of Labor, Noon Rotary Club of Iowa City, U of I Center for Human Rights, U of I International Programs, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Johnson County United Nations Association.

Tickets are available at the Iowa United Nations Association Office (337-7290).

The League of Women Voters of Johnson County will be sponsoring a public forum entitled “The Justice Center: It’s not just a jail issue” on Tuesday, February 24 from 7 to 8:30 PM in ICPL Meeting Room A.

Participants will be Judge Russell (Sixth Judicial District), Janet Lyness (Johnson County Attorney), Jim McCarragher (Johnson County Bar), Lonnie Pulkrabek (Johnson County Sheriff), and Lodema Berkley (Johnson County Clerk of Court). Bob Elliott (project analyst with Johnson County) will participate and Alison Werner Smith (League of Women Voters) will serve as Moderator.

The County Supervisors have begun discussion of judicial facilities and jail replacement or expansion. Many topics will be discussed: location, services to be modified or moved, costs, financing, startup and completion dates.

The Shelter House is holding its annual Used Book Sale on 2/28/09 at Hope United Methodist Church from 10 am to 3 pm.

Join Table to Table on Sunday, March 1st at the Hotel Vetro for their 13th annual benefit dinner. Social Hour begins at 5:30, with dinner at 6:30.

Mardis Gras is the theme for the event, and diners will get a 5-course gourmet Cajun dinner prepared by local chefs.

Reservations are $75 per person, and can be made by calling Mercy on Call at 358-2767. Reservations need to be made prior to Friday, February 27.

Table to Table is Iowa’s only food rescue organization, and trust me… they do WONDERFUL work! For more information on Table to Table, visit their website at:

DID YOU KNOW? The richest ONE PERCENT of Americans hold 34.3% of the wealth in the US. The bottom NINETY PERCENT hold 28.7%. (Source: US League of Women Voters.)

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!



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