Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 12, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/16/10

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I have shared this before, but Saint Patrick’s Day is a very important day to my family and I. We are very proud of our Irish heritage.

Here is a little Irish Blessing to start your Saint Patrick’s celebration:

May your troubles be less,
And your blessings be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

On a much more somber note, March 19, 2010 marks the beginning of the 8th year of war in Iraq. President Obama has promised that all combat troops will be out of Iraq by August 31 of this year, with all troops out by December 31. It is up to us to hold him to this promise.

To mark this occasion, there will be a pair of vigils: from 7-8 AM and from 7-8 PM. Interested folks should meet at the Pentacrest; call 354-1925 for more information.

The Board recently passed nine amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance, the document that sets our Planning and Zoning rules. (See our website for full details.)

I am most proud of a change we made to disallow new homes from being constructed on dirt roads. It passed 3-1, with Supervisor Neuzil absent.

Residences on dirt roads are nightmares for the farmers who have to work around them. Nothing exacerbates the urban-rural conflict like allowing more of these. I am glad this change was made.

In a recent edition (2/23) of Salvos, I wrote about populism and how it relates to the Tea Party movement.

In the 3/9 edition of the Register, UI Professor, Historian, and all-around great guy Shel Stromquist writes a much better piece on the same topic! I urge you to check it out.

I had a great visit to the City of Tiffin recently. As you may or may not know, Tiffin is among the fastest-growing cities in Iowa, and given the great location, is poised to grow even more.

This leads to several challenges. Lots of new residents demand lots of new services. Long time residents want to maintain the small town they love. Increases in traffic, police calls, sewer and water usage, etc. present challenges. A new high school is a great addition, but brings several expenses and little money to city coffers. Everything costs more, but everyone wants to pay less.

Through it all, a dedicated City Council tries to steer the ship with few staff on minimal pay. I certainly appreciate everything that all of our small-town councilors do, especially the fine folks in Tiffin!

Speaking of cities, I have been watching the debate over the franchise fees in Iowa City and Coralville. While I understand the desire of these cities to diversify their revenues, I do not favor these taxes. The franchise fees will disproportionately affect our poorest residents.

I remember former State Representative (former Mayor and Supervisor, too, for that matter!) Dick Myers eloquently defending the vote to cut the sales tax on utilities. Even though the State coffers needed the money, Myers could not justify an additional tax on a necessary utility that significantly impacted the poor. He led the fight to get this regressive tax repealed.

Local governments love to hire consultants. I have an idea: let’s all band together and hire Dick Myers! I think we would get a better product in the end.

The Iowa Legislature is wrapping up the shortest session in memory, and I have several thoughts:

*Neither party has anything to fear from organized labor. Democrats, in particular, should be embarrassed for not doing more for working people.

*I appreciate the fact that the majority of the Democrats in the Iowa Legislature agree with the Iowa Supreme Court, and recognize that civil rights should never be put to a vote of the majority.

*I find it amazing that we cannot get enough votes to protect bicyclists. Do the people in the bigger, faster, stronger, safer vehicles really need more advantages?

*This is very “inside baseball”, but the Local Option Sales Tax TIF might be the worst legislation in the history of this state. Senator Gronstal should be ashamed!

*There is some very good common sense stuff in the reorganization bill. Kudos to the Legislature for accomplishing this.

*The most offensive moment in this session? When Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) suggested that rather than punishing offenders, victims of domestic violence should be forced to take self-defense classes. Victim blaming to the extreme!

*My own State Senator, Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) had a great session, focusing on the lack of accountability in Iowa’s many tax credit programs. Thanks, Joe!

DID YOU KNOW? 18% of Johnson County 11th graders report being physically bullied in the past 30 days. (Source: ICCSD Iowa Youth Survey data.)

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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