Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 7, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 1/10/12

In this edition:

*MLK Day
*Mr. Bloom vs. Mr. Bohr
*TIF on TV
*Did You Know?

*MLK Day
Next Monday marks the federal holiday celebrating the birthday of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. I am so pleased that our country has chosen to honor this great man, and I hope you enjoy the holiday in his name.

We often hear about Christians who feel that Christmas has lost its meaning, union members who feel that way about Labor Day, and Veterans who feel the same about Veteran’s Day. I fear that this could be happening to MLK Day as well.

America has come a long way since the 60s, and overt racism is now typically (but certainly not always) frowned upon. We still have a long way to go, however. Unfortunately, Johnson County is home to plenty of racists. The Press Citizen was all too pleased to offer them a forum for 7-8 years, too. MLK’s work – our work – on racial issues is far from done.

I just finished reading “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. This book should be required reading in Johnson County. Why Johnson County? Because despite our “liberal” credentials, we incarcerate African Americans at the HIGHEST rate in Iowa!

Johnson County is about 85% white, and 6% African American. Yet we incarcerate African Americans at several times the rate of whites. Juvenile Court involvement occurs at a rate of NINE times the rate of whites. How can we possibly accept these disparities?

We need more discussion on race. But it is even more important that we remember that King was a radical in many ways. America grudgingly accepted racial reforms because they were less dangerous to the status quo than the other issues King championed. King took seriously the Biblical teachings that the love of money is a sin, and that rich men will not be welcomed into Heaven. He proposed seismic changes to the political and social structures that exist in America. In addition, King was adamantly anti-war.

To the status quo, he was the most dangerous man in the world. They were happy to grant him concessions on Jim Crow if they could maintain their financial and military might. The fact that he kept pushing on the Biblical teachings regarding greed meant he was destined to die. He was too big a threat.

Take some time this week to read some of the great books that are out there on Dr. King. More importantly, take some time to read the things he wrote himself. And Happy MLK Day!

*Mr. Bloom Vs. Mr. Bohr
Thus far, I have followed the whole Steven Bloom controversy from a distance. My family has lived on the same spot of ground since before Iowa became a state. I am a very proud eighth-generation Iowan. Needless to say, I found Mr. Bloom’s piece offensive. I just didn’t think it was worth responding. Until now.

I stop to wipe away the tears as I write this. A good friend of the family passed away two weeks ago. Let me tell you the story of Don Bohr.

Don grew up on the family farm east of Sutliff (very near my family). He lost his mother at a very young age. Don played sports, but could never fully commit due to the obligations of the family farm.

As an adult, Don married a wonderful woman and had three great kids. He always wanted his own farm ground, but that was never to be. So Don spent over 30 years as a tenant farmer. He was a good one, too – he took very meticulous care of those farms. It was said that he never walked by a weed without pulling it!

Life was mostly hard work. It was tough to make a go of it. Soon there were no farms left to rent, and Don had to go to work as a security guard at the UI. Each of the kids had their share of problems. Nothing was easy.

But overall, Don was pretty much like every other guy his age. He had a good life. Don enjoyed simple pleasures. He loved a cold Pepsi. He adored his grandkids. Don loved to fish, loved the Hawkeyes, loved country music, and loved to hunt. He hunted every chance he got. In the end, it was skin cancer that got him – undoubtedly a result of all those hours outside.

Basically, Don Bohr is the guy Steven Bloom wrote about. Here is the part Steven Bloom does not understand: the world would be a better place if it were full of Don Bohrs.

Don was kind, gentle, caring, considerate, friendly, and hard working. He was no dummy, either. This may sound crazy, but I know that if I had made some outrageous request of Don - asked for a kidney, or his life savings – he would have given it to me.

I remember once when I was going through a particularly rough time at work. I met Don at Sutliff, and he leaned in close.

“They’re really giving it to you in the paper, huh?” he asked. “Yep”, I sighed. Don said, “Screw ‘em. We’re all here for ya’.”

OK – Don didn’t say, “Screw ‘em.” But this is a PG newsletter. The point is, I knew that he REALLY meant it. He wanted to see a local boy make good. He had a quiet pride in his place and his people. More importantly, when I needed someone, he was there. It was that way my whole life.

Simple does not mean stupid, and simple does not equate to bad. Simple can be very, very good. Don Bohr was a simple man. He was also very, very good. His is the Iowa story that needs to be told.

*TIF on TV
In case you missed the recent forum on TIF, it is available on the web. See City Channel 4 for details.

*DID YOU KNOW? Iowa has more libraries per capita than any other state. (Source: Susan Craig, Iowa City Public Library.)

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

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

King took Biblical teachings seriously, why don't you?

January 11, 2012 at 7:50 PM  

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