Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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November 16, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 11/20/12 In this edition: *Happy Thanksgiving! *Justice Center Referendum *Homeless Children’s Trust Xmas Party *Convention and Visitors Bureau *Sign of the Times *Did You Know? *Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to Salvos readers! In many ways, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. (Imagine that coming from a fat guy, huh?) Actually, I love the idea of giving thanks. It is a simple act that does not happen enough. While I am at it – thanks to all of you who read Salvos each week. And a special thanks to those of you who follow up by sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it! Happy Thanksgiving! *Justice Center Referendum The people have spoken, and the proposed Justice Center was defeated, despite receiving an impressive 57% of the vote. I am disappointed in this result. We worked very hard to come up with what we believe was the very best plan possible. Why did it fail? Well, first off, in most elections, 57% is a resounding victory. Few candidates achieved that level of support. 60% is a very high bar, particularly in the highest turnout election possible. That led to the defeat more than anything else. Secondly, there were concerns shared over disproportionate minority contact. This is a real problem; the Iowa City Police Department stops and arrests far too many people of color. Yet our space needs are so great that we would be shipping out dozens of prisoners even if we never housed another inmate of color. Plus, because of inadequate court space, some people of color spend more days in jail than is necessary. We must address disproportionate minority contact; I simply believe we need to build a Justice Center, too. Thirdly, $46.8 million is a lot of money. It was always going to be a challenge to ask folks to tax themselves for this project. Understand – the project was not elaborate! It was what we need, plus a little room for growth. It will never be cheaper to build than it is today – interest rates cannot go lower! Despite all these positive arguments, to many folks a tax increase is a tax increase. They are all bad – period! Finally, many conservatives decided to play politics. I must admit, I have been shaking my head at the hypocrisy of many local Republicans. The first time I ran for office (’04) the local GOP was blasting Supervisors Harney and Neuzil for doing nothing on jail/courthouse needs. In ’08, they blasted all three of us. (Perhaps deservedly so!) But in ’12, suddenly, a Justice Center is a bad idea. Some of the same people who said, “do something” in ’08 changed their minds in ’12. (I still have the e-mails and letters.) Amazing! These folks are clearly not about solving community problems – they are about opposing Democrats. How sad! Hats off to local GOP members like Mike Streb and John Balmer who have stayed consistent on this issue. So now what? I cannot speak for the whole Board. I think the group is all over the map. I will tell you what I’d like to see happen: 1.) I think we need to come back with a very similar project. After all, 57% is impressive! Change the project too dramatically, and you risk losing that strong support. 2.) I think we can reduce the number of cells a bit, perhaps from the proposed 243 to around 200. We can also “shell out” another courtroom or two. This will bring down the upfront costs by a couple million dollars. Opponents of the project may view this as a win-win. (This will undoubtedly add future expenses, but that is for another Board on another day.) There may be other tweaks that can be made; I’m willing to listen, but as I said, I am not interested in big changes to something that was so well received. 3.) We can urge the Iowa City Police Department to take their race problems seriously. That is a good thing no matter how you slice it. 4.) I also hope we try again soon. The public does not want to wait another 12 years. We have very real safety, security, and space needs. The public knows that. Now we need to try to get them to vote in support. What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them! *Homeless Children’s Trust Xmas Party The 22nd Annual Homeless Children’s Trust Christmas Party is coming up on December 1st from 9-12 at the Eagle’s Lodge in Iowa City. This party will serve over 150 of Johnson County’s neediest children and their families. The Homeless Children’s Trust is a subsidiary of the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP), a local nonprofit that provides 55 transitional housing units, LiHeap heating assistance, and Head Start preschool for 260 children in Johnson County. The Christmas Party offers games, treats, and entertainment to children while their parents receive a Kmart gift card to shop for them. Presents get wrapped, and everyone gathers back together for lunch. Donations of toys, games, mittens, hats, or cash are much needed and should be made by November 27. There are several drop off sites: any HACAP location, any Core Fitness location, several Hills Bank locations, KCJJ, KXIC, and many other locations. In addition, volunteers are needed to play with the children or shop with the parents. Volunteers can contact Mary Larew at 338-1212 (days) or 337-2264 (evenings). *Convention and Visitors Bureau I recently attended the annual meeting of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). I am the person who urged the CVB to consider adding a County representative to its Board. Upon securing the assent of that group, I served on the CVB Board for three years. I can assure you our CVB is the envy of every CVB in Iowa! The CVB has an interesting annual report – I urge you to check it out at Meanwhile, congrats to Josh Schamberger and his crew for another outstanding year! *Sign of the Times There is a sign in rural Johnson County that makes my blood boil. It says, “Free markets, not freeloaders. Vote Republican.” I have no problem with people wearing their politics on their sleeves. Putting up signs is free speech. I defend the right of anyone to put up a sign. Unfortunately, our politics now is pretty nasty. If you are going to put up a sign like this, you invite commentary. I am furious at this idea that Democrats are freeloaders. I am particularly offended when I think of some of the low income Democrats I know. I have worked with the poor for 25 years. I see so many people working so hard – to dismiss all these folks as freeloaders is just SO wrong. In this case, I find it interesting that the family that put up the sign has received well over $876,316 in federal farm payments between 1995 and 2011. Yep. The folks who refer to others as “freeloaders” took about a million of our tax dollars. How is that a “free market”? I know these folks, and like these folks. And I wish they would take down that misguided sign. *DID YOU KNOW? People under 18 make up 20% of the population in Johnson County. People over 65 make up 10%. (Source: US Census Bureau.) 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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