Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 24, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/27/12

In this edition:

*Bottle Bill
*War With Iran? No Thanks!
*History of County Government in Iowa
*Sounds of Friendship Concert
*Did You Know?

*Bottle Bill
I was listening to Iowa Public Radio recently, and their Statehouse reporters mentioned that there had been some discussion of Iowa’s Bottle Bill. Some legislators want to expand it; others want to repeal it.

It was then that a reporter hit the nail on the head! I wish I could recall exactly which reporter had this insight – my apologies in advance.

She noted that the Legislature could NEVER pass something like this today. Unfortunately, she is right on!

It requires consumers to pay an extra 5 cents per container – today that would be considered a “tax on hard working Iowans”. It requires businesses to redeem the containers – today this would be viewed as “job-killing regulations”. Today, the Bill would be decried as “government intrusion into the marketplace”. Today, the Bottle Bill would be dead on arrival.

Interestingly, the original Bottle Bill passed in the mid-70s through a Republican House and Republican Senate, and was signed by a Republican Governor. Though there was not unanimous support, there was bipartisan support.

Iowa’s Bottle Bill remains popular. Most Iowans approve of the positive impact it has had on reducing litter, pollution, and landfill waste. So why is it that we cannot expand the Bill? Why is it that our reporter is correct – the Legislature could NEVER pass something like this today?

The answer is really pretty simple. Today’s GOP legislators no longer work for Iowans. They work for a few well-financed, far-right special interests.

I support expansion of the Bottle Bill. It was good for Iowa in the 70s, and an update would be good for us today. But I’m not holding my breath.

*War With Iran? No Thanks!
I want to go on the record now – I oppose war with Iran.

Why do I oppose war with Iran? First, because I am not a moron. Secondly, because war is bad, and something to be avoided. Finally, because I am able to learn from our mistakes.

I oppose war with EVERY country unless the US has clearly been attacked by that country. Even then, any retaliatory strikes should be swift and short in duration.

People who advocate for war with Iran are fools, profiteers, or both.

*History of County Government in Iowa
The first two Iowa counties, Dubuque and Demoine (later changed to Des Moines) were created in 1834. These territorial divisions were made so people didn’t have to travel so far to pay their taxes, file a lawsuit, or to report a crime.

Dubuque and Des Moines counties were divided into townships and the “township-supervisor” form of government was established with three supervisors and 15 other officials, including six justices of the peace, selected by the Governor of Michigan to govern the county. This form of government faced many hindrances. There was a lack of cooperation, conferences of the supervisors were not held as frequently as needed due to road conditions and poor mail service, prompt action was usually impossible, and the system was criticized for being expensive.

Two years later, in 1836, Iowa became part of the Wisconsin Territory and the structure of its county government was sharply revised. The “county commissioner” system, which originated in Pennsylvania nearly a century before, was adopted. Under the new system, direct administrative power was removed from the township and vested in a commission. The county commission consisted of three members that were elected and authorized to conduct the county’s business. By 1851, all county officials were elected. Some legislators felt the county commission system was cumbersome, slow moving, and expensive. Others had little faith in the average citizen to govern.

In 1851, the Iowa Legislature abolished the county commissioner system and replaced it with a one-man “county judge” system. In 1860, after numerous studies and much debate, the judge system was terminated in favor of the township-supervisor form, similar to the one first utilized when Iowa was part of the Michigan Territory. In 1870, the township supervisor form of government was replaced with the “county board of supervisors” form of government.

The board of supervisors was in effect a county commission, but the Legislature decided to call them supervisors in order to avoid printing new stationery and forms. Under the new plan, the number of supervisors was reduced to three, with provisions for five or seven, if desired. They were to be elected at large or from districts as each county might decide; and they were to supervise the townships rather than represent them. This basic form of government has survived until today.

The county board of supervisors form of government has gone through numerous changes since 1870, but mostly due to the addition of new functions and responsibilities. Huge changes have occurred in the American lifestyle, which have in turn affected roads and welfare in Iowa.

The advent of motor vehicles at the turn of the century brought an immediate need for updating the road system and for counties to hire a county engineer. And the Depression proved that counties needed massive aid from the federal and state governments in order to properly care for the poor. The county has become the administrative unit for many social programs and new functions and responsibilities that have been added.

(Thanks to the Iowa State Association of Counties – ISAC- for this article.)

*Sounds of Friendship Concert
The Compeer Sounds of Friendship Concert is Saturday, March 31 at 7PM at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

The show features lots of great local musicians, and desserts from local bakeries. All proceeds go to help Compeer in its mission: reducing the loneliness and isolation of adults receiving mental health treatment.

Tickets are available by calling 338-7884 ext. 245, or e-mailing Karen Fox at

*DID YOU KNOW? Johnson County SEATS made over 113,000 trips last year!

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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