Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 21, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 2/23/10

I have observed the recent Tea Party movement with great interest. The protesters obviously lean more right than left, but I see a great deal of populist rage among the protesters.

Populism can come from left, center, or right on the political spectrum. I have always viewed myself as a populist, and I have always felt that the Democratic Party is most successful when it stays close to its populist underpinnings. I wish Democrats in all elected offices spent more time thinking about the little gal/guy.

Still, it has always seemed to me that Democratic Party represents a more populist platform than the Republicans. With a few notable exceptions, it seems that the Democratic Party platform should have greater appeal to the average gal/guy. The fact that Dems are not faring well on the national stage is due in large part the fact that they have veered away from the populist issues that matter to Americans.

Some very interesting analysis from Nate Silver at backs this up.

I urge you to follow the link and read the whole article at:

In summary: of 25 issues, Obama's position appears to be on the side of public opinion on 14: the bank tax, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, campaign finance, the credit card bill, D.C. voting rights, fair pay, financial regulation, gays in the military, hate crimes, the jobs bill, mortgage relief, PAYGO, SCHIP, and Sotomayor.

Obama would appear to be on the wrong side of public opinion on five issues: the GM/Chrysler bailout, Guantanamo Bay, health care, the extension of the TARP program, and terrorist trials. On the other six issues, the polling is probably too ambiguous to render a clear verdict.

While I find this interesting, polls are only worth so much. There is an inherent flaw in attempting to govern by polls. For one thing, polls are merely a picture in time, whereas public opinion is in constant flux. Another issue is that it is tough to ask the right questions. Follow ups are often not permitted.

Even when the polling data is good, using it can be problematic. For example, polls will pretty much always say that people want more government services, yet want to pay less in taxes. How does one use that data? Similarly, polls always show that while folks dislike Congress, they tend to like and respect their own Representative.

Obviously, there is more to governing than simply following public opinion. For example, in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s it took courage from Presidents of both parties to end the most egregious racist policies in the US. The end of Jim Crow may not have been popular with most Americans of that era, but it was the right thing to do.

On the other hand, routinely failing to listen to public opinion is a surefire recipe for disaster. Time will tell if our leaders grasp this notion.

A quick follow-up on a couple issues highlighted in recent editions of Salvos:

While much of the damage is done, you still have an opportunity to ask the Joint Emergency Communication Center (JECC) Board to back off on hiring for several unnecessary positions. See and for more info.

On another topic, Iowa City acted on annexing 132 acres of land just north of I-80. Now is the time to begin charging an impact fee to developers in this area! I do not want to say “I told you so” in 20 years; I want us to do this correctly now! For more info, see

Save the date! Night of 1,000 Dinners—Haiti Benefit is going to be held Thursday, March 4 from 5-7pm at the Old Brick. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will go to the United Nations Development Fund for Women’s (UNIFEM) efforts in Haiti.

This year’s event (like in previous years) will feature international foods, speakers, and music. This year’s speakers are Drs. Ginny and Chris Buresh two Iowa City locals who recently organized a medical aid trip to Haiti.

The Iowa UNA is currently looking for cosponsors ($50 or more and/or food) and for food donors. If you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll pass it on.

The Iowa City Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness/Bioscience Committee is providing two scholarship opportunities for youth involved in agriculture. The first scholarship is the “2010 Outstanding Farm Youth Scholarship.” The applicant for this scholarship must demonstrate exceptional achievement in farming, academics and community involvement. 2010 high school graduates who live in Johnson County are eligible for the $750 scholarship.

The second scholarship is the “Community Foundation of Johnson County and Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce Flood 2008 Agriculture Scholarship” This scholarship is intended for individuals involved in agriculture who were directly affected by the flood of 2008. Finalists will go through an interview. Scholarships would range from $500-$2500, at the discretion of the selection committee.

To learn more about either scholarship contact Heather Johnson at 337-9637 or Applications are due April 1 to the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce.

DID YOU KNOW? Iowa City had 270 homes damaged to the tune of $52 million in the floods of 2008. (Source: Iowa City.)

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.

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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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