Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 10, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 12/13/11

In this edition:

*Sand Road and Other Chip Seals
*Candidates and Charity
*Liberty and Justice for Some
*Did You Know?

*Sand Road and Other Chip Seals
The Board recently heard from a group of residents who live along Sand Road south of 520th, where the road becomes chip seal. The residents are concerned about excessive speeds, coupled with farm and bicycle traffic. The road has seen a big increase in traffic – up to 1600 vehicles per day (vpd). The residents feel this section of roadway has become dangerous.

The residents out there want something done. There are really only 3 options, none of which are perfect solutions:

1. “Improve” the road
2. Paint stripes on the road
3. Reduce the speed limit

“Improving” the road means buying right of way (so taking front yards), cutting down trees, and paving a wide swath. It is expensive, and while it makes driving fast safer, it does nothing to address the farm/bike traffic.

Painting a chip seal road is a waste of money, period. It costs about $5,000 per mile to paint, and it would need to be done every single year. With over 100 miles of chip seal road in Johnson County, we simply cannot afford it.

Reducing the speed limit is the cheapest and easiest option, but poses problems of its own. The average speed on the road is currently greater than 55. Is it wise to artificially lower the speed limit? And what are the implications for the Sheriff’s Office where enforcement is concerned?

The bigger question is: why address Sand Road, and why now? Personally, I think we need to take a holistic look at ALL our chip seal roads. There are over 100 miles of chip seal road in Johnson County. We should begin to address this starting with the highest vpd and moving on through to the lowest.

The fact of the matter is, we have several chip seal roads with more curves, more hills, more trees, higher traffic counts, more bikes, and more residents. In my mind, these roads deserve our consideration before Sand Road.

Do not get me wrong: I sympathize with the folks on Sand Road, and I trust that everything they report is true. But the people who live on Sandy Beach Road (the highest vpd of any chip seal in Johnson County) have not been in the room to advocate for their road. What about their needs?

Since starting as a Supervisor in January of 2005, I have tried to make as many data-driven decisions as possible. Historically, too many decisions get made based upon who you know. I prefer quantifying those things that can be quantified, and putting that information to use.

Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors is very susceptible to the desires of a room full of voters. It is an election year for four of the five Supervisors, and it is likely that any candidate would prefer 40 happy constituents to 40 that are angry. So my guess is that the Board will vote to give these residents the lower speed limit they desire without tackling the tougher topic.

Personally, I will only vote for a comprehensive approach to our chip seal roads. That may leave me on the angry side of those 40 voters, but I feel it is the only fair way to proceed.

The issues of speeding, tough terrain, and noncompatible uses are problems countywide. The Board should address the issue countywide rather than simply greasing the squeaky wheel.

*Candidates and Charity
Wondering for whom you should vote? I have an idea for you! One of the best ways of evaluating candidates for office is to find out to which charities they contribute their time and talents.

I wish the press would ask candidates where they donate and how much. The results are typically very telling.

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! Ask the candidates – you’ll gain a great deal of insight.

*Liberty And Justice For Some
I just finished an excellent book by Glenn Greenwald entitled, “With Liberty and Justice for Some”.

This book focuses on the fact that the fundamental underpinning of our democracy – that all people are equal under the law – is simply no longer true.

It really began with Ford’s pardon of Nixon. While many felt this was positive step in our country’s “healing”, Greenwald argues that it set the stage for lawlessness at the top.

George H.W. Bush pardoned the guilty parties in the Iran-Contra affair. Bill Clinton pardoned those involved in Iraqgate. George W. Bush failed to investigate crimes committed in the Clinton Administration. Barack Obama has completely ignored an illegal war, warrantless wiretaps, torture, illegal rendition, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, suspensions of habeas corpus, war crimes, and much more. Obama is even worse when it comes to Wall Street. Zero accountability.

“If the President does it, it’s not a crime.” Richard Nixon was wrong when he famously said that. Unfortunately, it is true today.

At the other end of the spectrum, the US imprisons more people than any government in the history of the planet. Virtually all of those people are poor, and a disproportionate number are people of color.

One quarter of all African American men will serve time in a US prison. One in 9 African American children has a parent in prison. Meanwhile, privatized prisons spend our tax dollars lobbying for harsher sentences.

I finished this book as Occupy Wall Street protesters were being arrested in New York, Oakland, and elsewhere. Think about that for a moment. No one from Goldmann Sachs was charged with anything – even though they brought the US economy to its knees. But the folks who protest that lack of accountability are going to jail!

There are two systems of justice in the US – one for the rich and powerful, and one for the rest of us. It is un-American, and it SHOULD be protested!

*DID YOU KNOW? Johnson County Ambulance ran 7379 calls in FY11 – about 20 per day. They get to 75% of all calls in under 8 minutes. The busiest time for calls is Sunday from 12-2 AM.

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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