Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 4, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 2/7/12

In this edition:

*Free Tax Help!
*Rental Housing Code
*Economic Development Committee
*Pitchers and Catchers Report!
*Work Wanted!
*Did You Know?

*Free Tax Help!
Johnson County is once again sponsoring Free Tax Help for anyone earning under $50,000!

Johnson County is pleased to partner with the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Johnson County AARP, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City Community School District, Iowa City Housing Authority, and United Way of Johnson County to bring FREE tax preparation services to working people in community sites throughout Johnson County.

Financial support is provided by ISED Ventures, University of Iowa Community Credit Union, United Way of Johnson County, and Veridian Credit Union.

There are five (5) locations throughout Johnson County that provide FREE Tax Preparation Services. Please visit for site locations and schedules.

Last year, Johnson County residents using this program claimed over $1.5 MILLION in Earned Income Tax Credits! That is an influx of $1.5 million into the local economy, most of which is spent locally!

This was an idea of mine when I first joined the Board. (I stole it from Cook County, Illinois.) I am extremely proud of the way things have turned out!

Please spread the word about this program! Call 356-6090 with questions.

*Rental Housing Code
Just over one year ago, the Board of Supervisors decided against enacting a Property Maintenance Ordinance. I was on the losing end of this 3-2 vote.

Now, a year later, we are being presented with a Rental Housing Code. This is a watered-down version of the first proposal. I am not going to support this ordinance.

I wrote about this fairly recently, but it has come up once again. Here are some things I think the public should know as they follow this discussion:

First, here are liars out there who continue to perpetuate the lie that these proposed codes would impact barns and other farm buildings. That is simply untrue. Now – I have been criticized before for calling out people who lied. But I am not apologetic. Can someone get something wrong? Of course. But the people who keep repeating untruths after repeatedly being presented with the facts ARE liars. I wish the press had the guts to say so. Again – farm buildings are exempt.

Secondly, all owner-occupied units are exempt. That means there is little that can be done in most mobile home courts, where most units are owner-occupied.

Thirdly, the property would be exempt if owned by a farmer. I grew up on a farm. I am not anti-farm by any means. But I was also raised to believe that all people are created equal, and the law don’t care what your daddy do. That is not the case in Johnson County, Iowa in 2012, though. Because here and now, if your daddy is a farmer, the laws do not apply.

Fourthly, properties would be exempt if the renter did any work at all on the farm. This is even worse! It creates a “company store” situation, where poor people can be victimized in multiple facets of their lives. This Board already had problems with farmers housing migrant labor in deplorable conditions. (In 2001 – before I was on the Board, but during the terms of three current Board members.) This ordinance would codify all recurrences of that sad ordeal.

Finally, properties would be exempt if one family member was renting to another. Because if a child is going to live in unsafe conditions, by God, that child ought to be related to the landlord! (Yes, if you are sensing sarcasm here, you are correct.)

The proposed rental ordinance is not sufficient. I will not support it, because I’m not interested in passing something just so the Board can say it passed something. This is not about the needs of individual Supervisors – it is about the people who need safe housing. I will continue to push for what I think will address the situation - a more expansive property maintenance ordinance.

Every child in Johnson County deserves to live in a safe home. Period. That is what I believe, and that is what I will continue to fight for. I am sick and tired of this Board pandering to the Farm Bureau, particularly at the expense of poor children.

*Economic Development Committee
I am now on the County’s Economic Development Committee. We are looking at rural economic development; this includes agriculture, local foods, and much more.

There are many things we could and should consider. But this is a very broad topic. Where do YOU think we should be focusing? Please share your thoughts!

*Pitchers and Catchers Report!
Only twenty days until pitchers and catchers report! Even if you aren’t a baseball fan, you have to appreciate this annual ritual that screams “Spring is coming!”

*Work Wanted!
My son BJ has been begging me to advertise his services in Salvos. So here it goes!

BJ is a 15-year-old young man with a very good work ethic. He is willing to do all sorts of odd jobs. He has experience in babysitting, mowing, painting, cleaning, dog walking, and much more. BJ is also extremely conscientious and very friendly.

If you have some nagging project around the house and are looking for some help, please feel free to contact either of us at 354-7199.

*DID YOU KNOW? In FY2012, Johnson County overall tax levy rates ranked #31 out of Iowa’s 99 counties. (Source: Department of Management.)

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.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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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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