Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 21, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/24/09

I sent the following letter to the Press Citizen as a letter to the editor. I also sent it (TWICE!) to the top brass (who are, of course, in Des Moines). I have not received any response, so I guess the PC has chosen to disregard this critical issue.

This is an important issue, but the PC has chosen to ignore it. Heck, they have ignored me – I do not even get a call or E-mail in response! It is sad to see this corporation behave so gutlessly.

I will self-publish here; if you agree with the following letter, E-mail your comments to Susan Patterson-Plank at .

There are several factors that encourage racism. Fear and ignorance are big contributors. Another important factor is cowardice. When people can hide their identities, be it behind sheets or behind pseudonyms, racism has an opportunity to thrive.

There is plenty of racism in Johnson County. Unfortunately, the Press Citizen has decided to make the single biggest contribution to these racist attitudes. The Press Citizen online forums allow people to post anonymously. The most outrageous and most racist comments come from people who hide behind false names.

Require posters to use their real names. It has always been good enough for the opinion page; why not apply the same rules online? By providing an anonymous forum for racist speech, you are providing the Klansmen with their sheets.

If I were a Fortune 500 company considering opening up shop in Johnson County, I would probably go online and look at the local paper. After reading the PC website, I would immediately look to put my business elsewhere.

The racist comments that permeate the PC website give us all a bad name. Shame on you, Press Citizen. You have an obligation to this community, and you have chosen sensationalism instead. You can, should, and must do better.

I recently attended the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) Spring School in Des Moines, and one of the presenters made an interesting point regarding government finance.

A few years ago, the accounting and auditing standards for local governments were revised. As a part of this, governmental entities were required to show assets and liabilities. Previously, the relative financial health of local governments were judged solely on incomes, expenses, and cash in reserve.

There was a big problem with the old method. Local governments own millions of dollars worth of roads, bridges, buildings, land, vehicles, computers, equipment, and more. If local governments allow those assets to deteriorate, they create a huge liability for their citizens.

Too many times, we ascribe financial acumen to elected officials who spend very little money. But in reality, governments can be penny wise and pound-foolish.

The presenter noted that one Iowa county was downgraded from a AA bond rating to an A rating simply because they allowed their assets to depreciate from $110 million to $85 million. By putting off maintenance and upgrades, this county cost itself a lot of money.

Speaking of bond ratings, Johnson County now has one! This is a first for Johnson County, which has done relatively little bonding in the past.

Why get bond rated? It saves taxpayer money. Oftentimes, Johnson County can get better rates on the bond market than by just going to a local bank. This happened just two weeks ago in our first bond-rated transaction… Johnson County taxpayers saved over $100,000.

After a couple months of work with Moody’s, Johnson County was given an Aa3 rating. There are only three better ratings… Aa2, Aa1, and AAA. This is actually very positive. Cities and counties around the country are being downgraded; the “grade inflation” of the past 20 years is fading away just like the real estate bubble. So an Aa3 rating today would probably have been Aa1 just a year ago. Once this all shakes out, Johnson County will compare quite favorably.

Johnson County was acclaimed for having strong financial management, good policies, a history of saving up to pay for projects, and extremely low debt. On the downside, Johnson County did not have much credit history, and has very small reserves relative to our budget. As we do a bit more bonding, our credit rating should improve. The challenge will be increasing our reserves during tight budget times.

The Arc of Southeast Iowa is holding a chili supper on Friday, March 27 from 4:30-7:30 PM at River Community Church in Iowa City. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 3-12, and under 3 eat free.

All proceeds support the Arc mission of serving people with disabilities and helping to make Southeast Iowa a great place for people with disabilities to live, learn, work, and play.

DID YOU KNOW? It takes 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. It takes 1.5 gallons to produce the average plastic water bottle. (Source: Physicians for Social Responsibility.)

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

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



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