Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 12, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 12/15/09

Happy Hanukkah to all! I read a commentary recently that noted the spirit of Hanukkah was about bringing light to the darkness. Certainly that is needed now more than ever!

I’ll be volunteering at Project Holiday this morning (Tuesday, 12/15). As you remember your family and friends this holiday season, please also remember the many people among us who have significant needs. That is what the holidays are all about.

The Iowa Legislature will be going back in session soon, and like almost everyone else, Johnson County has a wish list. Some of Johnson County’s Legislative objectives for 2010:

We understand that there is no money available. So we are not requesting anything that will cost the State money. At the same time, we would respectfully request that the State avoid passing any unfunded mandates to counties. It is sometimes easier to kick problems down the road to another level of government; we want to protect against this.

Johnson County applies for a variety of State trails grants every year. Unfortunately, a couple of Legislators have started the unseemly process of earmarking trails projects for their Districts. We are requesting that our Legislators put an end to this earmarking, and allow all trails projects to stand on their own merit. If this cannot be accomplished, and there is no other recourse, we want a trails earmark for Johnson and Linn Counties.

We want the State to listen when it comes to suggestions that might save us all money. For example, Iowa recently decided on an asinine interpretation of Medicaid rules that requires case managers to document everything they do down to the minute. This overzealous interpretation IS NOT Federal law; few other states do anything this stupid. Yet the decision makers in Iowa’s Department of Human Services felt saddling case managers with this burden was a good move. If the Legislature will simply tell DHS to undo this requirement, MILLIONS of dollars will be freed up for services. This should be a nonpartisan slam-dunk, as every professional in the field in Iowa recognizes that this is a stupid interpretation, and a costly, self-inflicted budget wound.

A couple issues that are specific to Johnson County:

Legislation passed last year that required Johnson County to have our Veteran’s Affairs Office open a minimum of 40 hours per week. While this legislation was well intended, it did not account for the fact that Johnson County is home to a large VA hospital. Most veterans who need services go there first. So even though we had no complaints about the hours we maintained, we were forced to spend the money to staff the office 40 hours. We have an extremely dedicated veteran (Leo Baier) serving as our VA Director, and Leo feels strongly the change has harmed Johnson County. The money we spend just being open could be better spent on direct services to veterans. To fix this, we would like to see counties with VA hospitals exempted from the 40-hour requirement.

Johnson County is in a unique situation when it comes to the Medical Examiner Office. Due primarily to three large hospitals, Johnson County is home to an inordinate number of deaths. When a resident of another Iowa county dies here, State law allows Johnson County to bill the county of residence of the deceased. The problem is that lots of people from SW Wisconsin, NE Missouri, and western Illinois die in Johnson County. In those cases, there is no mechanism for billing the home counties of the deceased. We need the help of the State in addressing this problem.

While there are always frustrations with the legislative process, we need to give credit where credit is due. It should be noted that counties in general (and Johnson County in particular) have fared exceptionally well with the Iowa Legislature over the past two years. Legislators, in many cases led by the Johnson County delegation, have responded to county concerns like never before. Personally, I appreciate this cooperation and concern, and look forward to even more of the same this year.

Please join the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew) for the First Annual I-Renew Friend Raiser at our home in the Wesley Center, 120 North Dubuque Street on Thursday, December 17th from 4:00 - 7:00 PM.

They’ll be serving wine and appetizers from some great local restaurants, along with some great music from Timcenzo and The Moonbeams. This will be a great opportunity to have some fun, support I-Renew, learn about I-Renew's expanded program offerings in 2010, meet the staff and Board AND meet other like-minded individuals who share your passion for clean renewable energy. There is no charge for the event but donations are welcome.

For more info contact: Mike Carberry, Executive Director
Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew)
mobile: 319-594-6453; ;

Government is GOOD! How do I know? Because our food is inspected for safety. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people die each year because they ate tainted food. But that does not happen in the US.

Food safety- brought to you by your GOVERNMENT!

DID YOU KNOW? The population density of Johnson County is 181 people per square mile. Iowa City is 2,575 people per square mile. New York County, NY has a density of over 67,000 people per square mile.

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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