Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


March 3, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/6/12

In this edition:

*Justice Center Held Hostage
*Prairie Preview
*Sutliff Bridge Authority Fundraiser
*No Salvos Next Week!
*Did You Know?

*Justice Center Held Hostage
The proposed Justice Center was dealt a blow this week when Supervisor Neuzil decided to play politics. Here is some background, and my take on things:

The Board had recently worked hard to come up with the specific elements that would be included in the Justice Center. We worked with an architect and a cost estimator. We whittled things down to the point that doing any less would be penny wise and pound-foolish. The final amount was $48 million. That is pretty much the minimum cost to do this and do it right.

Then – out of the blue - Terrence decided that he would not support bonding for more than $39 million. He demanded cuts from the rest of the County budget. I have some serious problems with the way this all happened.

First, $39 million is NOT a magic number! The origin of the number is almost comical – we had seen a very rough estimate of $50 million. Iowa City Councilor Connie Champion said off the cuff, “People won’t vote for more than $40 million.” I noted that retailers sell things for $19.99 rather than $20 for psychological reasons; Connie then threw out $39 million. So the number is hardly scientific. We used it as a goal, and the architects tried to get there. They couldn’t. But remember - $39 million is extremely unscientific!

Secondly, he has had literally YEARS to bring this up. Yet he waited until now? When we were interviewing architects, they all expressed doubt as to whether or not $39 million could get the job done. They all promised to get as close as they could, but expressed reservations. Terrence could have drawn this line in the sand way back then. This is awfully late in the game!

Thirdly, he stated that, “if we want the public to approve a new Justice Center, we need to sacrifice”. He said cuts should be made to the next few budgets. Yet when pushed, he could come up with ZERO dollars to cut. ZERO! I am willing to listen to any and all proposals to cut taxes. But you have to have the courage to spell out the specific things you propose cutting. He does not have the guts to lay out ONE CUT!

Fourthly, his numbers kept changing. We had to cut $4 million in two years, then he could go from $39 million to $44 million, then it was $40.9 million – it was a moving target.

Fifthly, we had just finished the proposed County budget for FY13. I do not see where I can cut $2 million. If I saw $2 million in cuts, I can assure you, I would have urged $2 million less in taxes.

Sixthly, Terrence wanted to save money in future years for the Justice Center. As was pointed out many times, we cannot commit a future Board. To bank on a future savings of millions of dollars is fiscally irresponsible. Contractors who bid projects must deal in realities, not future promises. This does NOTHING to cut the cost of the Justice Center. It does NOTHING to reduce the price tag for taxpayers. It simply kicks the can down the road, creating a problem for a future Board.

Seventhly, he then brought up the idea of doing several separate bonds. Be very clear – this does NOTHING to reduce the cost of the Justice Center. It does NOTHING to reduce the price tag for taxpayers. All it does is obfuscate the real cost of the project while giving voters less of a voice.

Eighthly, he claimed others refused to “compromise”. The AUDACITY! We had just finished weeks of compromise, including hours that very day! To cite a couple examples – Supervisor Harney wanted to spend $55 million; he compromised considerably. Supervisor Rettig wanted to only spend $10-15 million and only do the Courthouse expansion; she compromised considerably. To wait until that has all played out, then pull this stunt… it isn’t how people of good faith do business.

Look, you do not have to take my word on this. Audio exists for every meeting of the Board of Supervisors. Just go to, then Board of Supervisors, then Agendas and minutes. The meeting was 7 PM on Wednesday, February 29. Listen for yourself.

So why did he do this? I do not know. You’ll need to ask him. I know that every Supervisor likes to come across as the guardian of taxpayer dollars. The press releases have already been written with that spin; it appears the Gazette bought into some of this crap. Sometimes, people are willing to do almost anything to earn that reputation, including putting important projects in jeopardy.

Look, I am not thrilled by calling out a coworker. But this was a VERY bad deal. Plus, this is really important, and people need to know what is going on.

If you cannot tell, this makes me angry. It is reckless and irresponsible behavior. We already have architects hired. Taxpayers deserve better than Supervisors posturing and playing politics.

Meanwhile, I have no idea where this project is headed. We had planned on a November vote – the whole thing may be on hold now.

*Prairie Preview
The 29th annual Prairie Preview is Thursday, March 8 at Parkview Church in Iowa City.

Doors open at 6:30, and at 7:30 there is a keynote entitled “The Personal Prairie” by John T. Price from the University of Nebraska.

I absolutely LOVE the Prairie Preview, but I am bummed! The Board of Supervisors has a meeting that night, so I’ll miss my first Preview in well over a decade. I hope you can enjoy it in my stead!

For further information, contact Tammy Richardson at the Johnson County Heritage Trust, 338-7030 or

*Sutliff Bridge Authority Fundraiser
Join the Sutliff Bridge Authority (SBA) at their annual winter fundraiser Saturday, March 10 at the Solon American Legion.

Dance to the great DJ services of Schmo Sounds from 8 pm to midnight. There will also be a 50/50, raffle and silent auction. If you have an item you'd like to donate, let a SBA member know.

$5 donation at the door, profits of event will be donated to the future maintenance of the bridge via the bridge's Endowment and Charitable Giving Fund established at the Community Foundation of Johnson County.

*No Salvos Next Week!
Salvos takes a week off next week. Expect your next edition (dated 3/20/12) over the weekend of March 17-18. Enjoy your week off!

And if I do not see you – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

*DID YOU KNOW? In 2011, 51 metro Atlanta jurisdictions voted on whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales. 50 out of 51 approved the measure. (Source: American City and County.)

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home