Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 23, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 6/26/12 In this edition: *RIP Richard Jensen *More JECC Stupidity! *Economic Kudos! *Did You Know? *RIP Richard Jensen Johnson County recently lost a truly great person with the passing of Richard Jensen of Coralville. I wrote about Richard and his wife Marilyn in 2008 when I awarded them a “Salvos Salute”. Here is what I wrote then: “Richard and Marilyn Jensen: Simply good people who seem to donate time, talent, and support to all kinds of good causes throughout Johnson County. Veteran’s events, school events, church events, social services events, library events… The Jensens just quietly do good work. It is the unsung efforts of people like this that make a community strong.” This is even truer today than it was in 2008. RIP, Richard, and thanks for all your good works! *More JECC Stupidity! I cannot believe it. Just when I think maybe we have turned the corner, the Joint Emergency Communications Center (JECC) continues the stupidity. First, the good news: the JECC Board wisely decided to remove the “interim” title from interim Director Tom Jones. Jones is a good guy who knows his stuff. He has been through the trials and tribulations at JECC, and through it all has demonstrated himself to be a solid, capable leader. He has the respect of the employees. I try to give credit where it is due, and I credit the JECC Board for deciding to promote Jones. A second bit of good news: things at the JECC seem to work. There have been several examples of interoperability helping public safety agencies to help the rest of us. I continue to believe in joint communications systems; I simply want to see them run efficiently. Now the bad news: the JECC Board hired Jones at a higher salary than they paid Gary Albrecht, the man Jones replaced. Albrecht was selected after a nationwide search, while Jones was passed over. Albrecht had a Master’s Degree, Jones no degree at all. Now he should be paid more? Even after JECC’s financial difficulties? That is not all. Even though Jones has demonstrated that the place runs fine with the existing management structure, the JECC Board decided to hire an unbudgeted assistant for Jones. Why? What possible justification do they have for doing so? To top that off, they didn’t even get rid of Jones’ former position, meaning it could be filled as well. I have been battling the bureaucracy at this place since before it opened its doors. Nothing changes. Oh, but it gets worse. Our JECC Board is way too dysfunctional to stop there. The job description requires a “Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent.” Jones has at least 5 years experience, including serving as Interim Director two different stints totaling several months. By Johnson County’s employment standards, Jones easily meets the “equivalent” standard. So, the JECC Board decided to pay an additional $7,000 per year until he gets his BA. Seriously? The JECC Board members who voted for this were North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm, Coralville Councilor John Lundell, Iowa City Councilor Susan Mims, Iowa City Manager Tom Markus, and Supervisor Pat Harney. Only Supervisor Janelle Rettig voted against the insanity. I truly wish that the members of the public would hold these people accountable. I also wish the voting bodies of which these people are members would step up and be accountable. Unfortunately, Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty have been see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil where JECC is concerned. It is a cash cow, and the councils have fallen in line with their representatives so they can continue to suckle at the JECC teat. Markus’ vote is particularly egregious after the way in which he held Johnson County hostage on the Animal Shelter. Tom Markus is a real budget hawk – when it is his budget. I hope the public will actually look into the facts here. I can already quote you the responses from the members of the JECC Board – “I’m not willing to put a price on public safety.” Nice quote, but it is 100% bull crap. Are they trying to say that they have one-minute response times for police and fire in their cities? Do police and fire personnel earn six figures in their cities? Do they buy the newest and best equipment for their cities every year? Of course not! Because that would affect their CITY budgets! So they DO put a price on public safety – and they do it every year! What they mean to say is, “I’m not willing to put a price on public safety, so long as Johnson County pays the whole bill.” They ought to be ashamed. ASHAMED! There is one other response besides the “price on public safety” line – that is to simply attack the messenger. I am “uncooperative” and/or “need to be in charge.” Look for some of that in the days to come. Thing is, my arguments tend to be based on facts and numbers. Their argument is that I am an ass. I may be an ass, but that is not an apples-apples argument. League of Women Voters? You helped get this started. It is a great initiative, but it has not been managed well. I think you have some obligation to continue to pay attention and ensure that wise decisions are made at the JECC. We need the League to go into watchdog mode. Don’t accept the platitudes from the JECC Board. Speak to the Supervisors. Dig a little. So, more of the same. I wish I had better news to report. Meanwhile, congrats and good luck to Tom Jones. *Economic Kudos! Johnson County was ranked third in The “Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index” released recently. This category features counties that are ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth. “The ‘fourth economy’ defines our nation’s current economy, reflecting a combination of the previous three: agrarian, industrial and technological,” said Rich Overmoyer, Fourth Economy President and CEO. Mark Nolte, interim ICAD Group president, attributes multiple factors to Johnson County’s success, including the long-term vision of existing industry. “Our annual existing industry interviews show companies are increasing their investment in research and development and introducing new products and services at a rate nearly 20% higher than national norms,” said Nolte. The FEC Index considers county-level measures within investment, talent, sustainability, place, and diversity, as well as capacity for innovation. *DID YOU KNOW? June 24th is Saint John’s Night on the Christian calendar. In much of the world, that is a night of parties and hijinx. 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! ---Rod


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