Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 19, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 2/9/10

I continue to have significant difficulty with my E-mail. Mediacom changed things, and they do not support Entourage, which is my E-mail system. So I had to try to migrate Salvos to Mediacom’s webmail; now several servers see my weekly E-mail as spam.

In short, if you know someone who used to get Salvos but seems to get it no longer, contact me. I’ll try to fix it. Another option - Salvos get posted each week on my website: You can find them all there.

I apologize for all these technological difficulties. They hurt me more than they hurt you - I assure you!

Happy 90th birthday to the League of Women Voters! Not only is the national organization celebrating 90 years, but so is the Johnson County chapter!

Good government does not just happen. It occurs because people pay attention and get involved. The League has done this better than any other group over the past 90 years.

If you have ever seen a Legislative or candidate forum in Johnson County, odds are it was sponsored by the League. These are but a few of the valuable services this group provides.

This might also be an appropriate time to give a shout out to League member Jean Lakin, who is assigned to observe the Board of Supervisors. Jean is diligent about attending Board meetings, and clearly understands the issues we are facing. It is great to know that Jean is “keeping us honest”, so to speak.

The League is celebrating 90 years with a luncheon from 11:30 -1:30 on February 24 at the Linn Street Café. See for more details.

There has been a bit of public discussion lately as to the proper roles of elected officials in relation to that of their professional staffs.

On one hand, you have members of the public demanding that elected officials “listen”, “represent the people”, and “do their jobs”. On the other hand, you have elected officials voicing concerns over “micromanaging” staff. Which side is correct? Like most situations, there are shades of gray here.

Elected bodies adopt rules and regulations to control the behavior of their members. Every so often, a “rogue” elected official makes things uncomfortable for her/his peers. Then the body rushes to pass rules to rein her/him in. I understand this motivation.

I see electeds err on this side too frequently, however, and I think it stifles them. Many groups tie themselves into knots with procedural rules. A School Board member cannot speak directly to a parent because of protocols. A City Council member cannot speak directly to a city staff person due to chain of command. These internal structures and rules exist for a reason, but they often paralyze elected officials. They become more concerned with process than with doing what is right.

I like the model used by the Board of Supervisors. All 5 Supes are directly elected by the people. The ultimate responsibility for what happens in Johnson County lies with us. We often have differences of opinion regarding the “micromanaging” of staff. When that happens, it is up to a majority of the Board to rein in our “rogue”.

So what is the answer? It is actually quite easy! Most importantly, ELECT GOOD PEOPLE! Once good people are elected, they need to HIRE GOOD EMPLOYEES! Most of the debate over the proper role of elected officials occurs because SOMEBODY is not doing her/his job.

One of the neatest things I have had the privilege to do in my 5 years as a County Supervisor is to serve on the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) Scholarship Committee.

Each year, ISAC gives one scholarship of a couple thousand dollars in each of 6 geographical districts; one of these 6 gets a top overall award of roughly $7,500. So this scholarship money can make a real difference! To be eligible, students must have a parent who works for county government.

During the three years I have served, I have met some truly amazing young people – including some Johnson County kids. Iowans, our future looks bright! I travelled to Des Moines recently for yet another scholarship competition. It left me impressed once again!

I attended the Grand Opening of the new Swisher Library on Saturday. Congratulations to this wonderful town on this wonderful accomplishment!

The Sullivan for Supervisor team will be Bowling For Kids Sake once again this year. We have room on our team for two bowlers… would you like to join the cause? If so, let me know! Otherwise, we would love to have you sponsor us. Just go to the BBBS website at

And follow the links.

DID YOU KNOW? 7% of Iowa’s farmers are under 35; 29% are over 65. (Source: ISU Extension.)

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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