Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 20, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 6/22/10

In this edition:

*Strategic Planning
*Performance Evaluations
*”Real America”
*Child Tax Credits
*Did You Know?

*Strategic Planning
Johnson County is currently involved in a strategic planning process – I thought I’d share a brief update.

For starters, we are doing this without a consultant. Personally, I am very pleased by this. I think there are things that organizations undertake that require outside help. More often than not, I do not believe strategic planning is one of them. I have participated in several strategic planning initiatives where the facilitator did not add much to the process. Participants offered all the info and did all the work, then paid a big bill.

Executive Assistant Andy Johnson is leading our process, and doing just as well as someone we would pay $15,000. (That is both a compliment to Andy and a knock on consultants!)

We began by reviewing the strategic plans of some of our peer counties, and picking out things we liked. This was followed by brainstorming with Elected Officials and Department Heads. The Board then put ideas into 5 general categories; the final piece will be fleshing out the details.

I cannot recall the exact names of each of the 5 categories. But rough descriptions of the 5 categories are: 1.) Budget; 2.) Infrastructure; 3.) Environment; 4.) Customer Service; and 5.) Quality of Life.

Needless to say, not everything fits neatly into these categories. Trails, for example, might fit into 3 or 4 different areas. Other items do not really seem to fit anywhere, yet sound like good ideas.

A few of the specific goals that I really like include:

*Increasing unobligated financial reserves.
*Giving the public an opportunity to vote on a Justice Center.
*Addressing noncompliance with EPA air quality standards.
*Implementing best practices wherever feasible.
*Increasing opportunities to transact business online.

Those are just a few. They may receive enough support to make the list, or they may not. In order to turn those (or any) topics into good goals, they will need to be measurable, time limited, and responsibility will need to be assigned.

So – it is your turn! What should Johnson County be doing? Now is a great time to communicate your thoughts. Please let me know what you think!

*Performance Evaluations
Johnson County recently adopted a new employee evaluation form, and accompanied it with mandatory training on how to do employee evals.

This may sound pretty innocuous. You may ask yourself why I even bother mentioning it.

The answer is simple. Organizations run on employee performance. Organizations do not improve unless they regularly, honestly evaluate employees and coach them to get better. All employees – stars and those who struggle – benefit from the evaluation process.

If you want to hear more about employee evals or want to see the form we use, please let me know.

*”Real America”
Sarah Palin has a habit of showing up in small towns and referring to those places as “the Real America”. That is why I found it interesting to note that almost 85% of all Americans live in a metropolitan area of over 50,000 people.

Even in Iowa, the quintessential rural state, about 45% of our 3 million residents live in urban areas. In Johnson County, only about 15,000-20,000 out of 135,000 residents live over 2 miles from an urbanized area.

What does this mean? First of all, “Real America” is insulting. We are all Americans. Secondly, whether intended this way or not, “Real America” can easily be used as code for white, English speaking and straight. Third, it is helpful for all Americans to recognize that we are a large and diverse country. Finally, there is no reason to divide America along imaginary lines; we have enough real divisions that require our attention.

*Child Tax Credits
A message from my good friends at the Iowa Policy Project:

Thousands of Iowans would be affected if Congress chooses against extending Child Tax Credit improvements made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. The Child Tax Credit is able to reach thousands more Iowans with improvements made in both 2008 and in the 2009 Recovery Act. See IFP's backgrounder

You might find this short report useful in the coming days and weeks as Congress acts on provisions in ARRA. We invite you to see our many other reports and short background sheets on how the Recovery Act has affected Iowans. See those pieces on our ARRA Iowa Impacts page
The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint public policy analysis initiative of the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines. Find IFP reports at

*DID YOU KNOW? Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is the first and so far only open lesbian woman to win election to Congress. In 1998, she became the first ever openly gay person to win election to Congress as a non-incumbent.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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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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