Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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November 24, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 11/27/12 In this edition: *RIP Millie Ollinger *”No” is Easy! *Board of Adjustment *Celebrate Your Friends! *Welfare State of America *Did You Know? *RIP Millie Ollinger Johnson County lost a great one recently with the passing of Millie Ollinger. “Diamond Millie” served as the cook at the Johnson County Jail for many years. She also ran Coralville’s premier honky-tonk back in the day when Coralville had honkey-tonks. I was never much of a Mickey Gilley fan, but I’m going to play a little today in honor of Diamond Millie – one of the characters that makes this place great! RIP, Mil! *”No” is Easy! Sam Rayburn was a legendary Texas politician and longtime (49 years!) Speaker of the US House of Representatives. (A House Office Building now bears his name.) Rayburn was known for being able to get things done. Personally, I like this Rayburn quote: “Any jackass can tear down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one.” This could easily be applied to our politics at the federal level, where the GOP controlled House has been unwilling to work with President Obama to get anything done. Unfortunately, I think the quote can also be applied to our local political scene. There are an alarming number of people who are simply against everything. And the local newspapers celebrate them. The County, local cities, local school districts, the UI, churches, businesses, nonprofits… everybody has problems. You can try to improve the situation, or you can criticize the efforts of those who are trying. Frankly, I’m not much interested in the opinions of people who are unwilling to look for solutions. I recently took in the movie “Lincoln”. I thought the movie was fabulous. I also thought about how difficult it was to do the right thing, and how easy it was to simply say “no”. Thank God that throughout our history, the negativity has not won every battle. We must remember to acknowledge the work of those who are willing to take a stand. We are not required to agree with their visions. But if you disagree with the plan that is laid out, offer your own solution. Simply saying “no” is a cop out. “No” is too easy. *Board of Adjustment Johnson County needs a member of the public to serve on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. This is a very important Board with tremendous statutory power! These are the people who determine if and when there will be any exceptions to policy where zoning ordinances are concerned. Meetings are once per month, lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone with an interest in zoning, planning, and government in general. For more info, see the Planning and Zoning section of the County webpage at: Please feel free to contact me for more information. *Celebrate Your Friends! I have recently attended a couple of very nice (but very different) celebrations in honor of two people who have some very impressive (but very different) accomplishments. Both events were wonderful and well deserved! This has gotten me thinking. There are so many cool people in Johnson County. We simply must celebrate more of them. Yes, we are usually decent when it comes to marking retirements and deaths. But why wait so long? We need to do more celebrating. We need to honor more people. We need to say “thank you” more often. I have tried to annually notice some of the great people in Johnson County through a “Salvos Salute”. But that just isn’t enough. I am going to make a point of celebrating more people. I’m not sure each event will be “Mr. Holland’s Opus”; it may be a small affair with two friends getting coffee or a beer. Either way, I promise to do more of this! I hope you will join me! *Welfare State of America I read a great article by Peter Frase and Shaskar Sunkara entitled “The Welfare State of America”. The most interesting part of this piece was their discussion of the relationship between the federal governments and the states as it relates to social services. Part of the reason so many people feel they do not benefit from “government handouts” is because legislators continue to take the lazy and secretive route, and enact public policy through the tax code. Nobody sees their mortgage interest deduction; therefore, they do not feel they benefit. The authors also point out that because states and localities are required to maintain balanced budgets, vital social services are often cut, even when funding is available. Witness Governor Branstad’s 2012 veto of funding for food banks, despite Iowa’s coffers being full. Finally, the public does NOT view these locally funded benefits as “entitlements”. Because of this, former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others want to “block grant” such services to the states. This will allow the states in the former Confederacy to cut services; soon, the “block grants” are simply no longer available. Google the authors. Read the article. It’ll make you think! *DID YOU KNOW? 52% of the renting households in Johnson County cannot afford the rent ($853) on the average 2-bedroom apartment. (Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition.) 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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