Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 12, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 2/15/11

In this edition:

*Weapons in County Buildings
*Pitchers and Catchers Report!
*The Warmth of Other Suns
*Sutliff Bridge Authority Fundraiser
*Local Food Summit
*Did You Know?

*Weapons in County Buildings
The Board recently discussed a ban on weapons in County buildings. Johnson County has long had an employment policy banning weapons in the workplace, but recent changes to State gun laws have called those rules into question.

According to County Attorney Janet Lyness, the County may ban weapons in county buildings. While this interpretation is open to a legal challenge, Janet feels certain a ban would hold up in court. This echoes the opinion put forth by the Iowa Attorney General.

Creating a single policy for Johnson County can be a challenge. For example, we often have armed law enforcement personnel in our buildings. They require an exception. Johnson County plays host to numerous controlled hunts on Conservation property. These too, require an exception. There may be other situations we have yet to encounter that will also require exceptions to policy.

I support limits on weapons in County buildings. I do not come to this decision lightly, as I acknowledge that an individual right to bear arms has become the widely accepted view of the Second Amendment. I keep a copy of the Constitution close at hand while I work. It means a great deal to me. We need to always be careful when we are discussing Constitutional Rights.

My decision is based in large part on the impact of a ban. Yes, an individual would have his or her right to carry limited while in the County buildings. Is that too great a limitation? I do not believe so. The same people can have guns at home, and on their person in most places. They will never need to be in a County building for long periods of time. While there, they may store their weapons in their vehicles. This single limitation is not unreasonable, in my mind.

My decision is also based upon our employees. I have heard several employees express their concerns with guns in the workplace; few employees seem to be on the other side. Employees are complaining about infringements of their own rights.

While this is an important Constitutional question, I am unimpressed by many of the gun advocates that have spoken to me on this issue. While some folks have made reasoned arguments, many people claim there should be no restrictions whatsoever on the Second Amendment.

This position is hard to argue. The legislatures and courts have been further defining the Constitution and the Bill of Rights since their creations. All of our rights have been interpreted as having some limits. This is generally accepted by all three branches of government, and widely accepted by the American people. We continue to argue over these limitations, as well we should. But some limitations are accepted by all but a few absolutists.

In my mind, an absolutist position is just stupid. The extremists claim 2 year olds should be allowed to have guns. They claim people who are seriously mentally ill should be allowed to have guns. They claim no background checks should be done, no training should be required, and no proficiency should be required. They claim that each of us has a right to nuclear weapons.

In my mind, these positions are extreme, and do not help the cause of the Second Amendment. There are good discussions to be had on this issue, but not at the fringes.

Thankfully, those who spoke at the Board meeting were largely thoughtful and reasonable folks. I appreciate their passion, but also their ability to present their case in a reasonable manner.

So, what is your opinion? Weapons in County buildings, or no?

*Pitchers and Catchers Report!
Need a sign of spring? Pitchers and catchers report on February 14! Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, ya’ gotta like this!

*The Warmth of Other Suns
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I would be reading something in honor of Black History Month. The book I chose was “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson.

This is the story of the huge migration of African Americans from the south to the north between 1910 and 1970. It puts three real life stories in historical and cultural contexts.

This was the best book I have read in a long time. I cried several times. It is the story of a struggle against huge odds, and a story that lots of people in this county need to read.

The book is available at local libraries – please check it out!

*Sutliff Bridge Authority Fundraiser
Mark Saturday, February 26 in your planner for the SBA spring fundraiser at the Solon American Legion. Between Monsters will be playing. Music starts at 8 pm. $5 donation at the door.

Status on the Bridge: The County recently signed an agreement with VJ Engineering to do a design. It should be finalized by May. This will be followed by bids in August. Construction work will follow with the bridge being complete by end of 2012.

Other things to note: The SBA has established an endowment fund with the Community Foundation of Johnson County. You can make your own tax deductable donation!

*Local Food Summit
A local food summit for producers and purchasers will be held February 18 from 1-5 PM at the Coralville Public Library.

Among the sponsoring organizations are the Johnson County Local Food Alliance and Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development, both of which are supported by Johnson County.

For more info, including registration, see

*DID YOU KNOW? The shortest war on record was fought between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.

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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