Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 30, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 1/1/13 In this edition: *Happy New Year! *My Term as Chair *New Committee Assignments *Salvos Salutes – Follow Up *Call It What It Is – Austerity! *Did You Know? *Happy New Year! Happy New Year! I hope 2013 brings you all great health and happiness! *My Term as Chair As you may know, I had the pleasure of serving as the Chair of the Board in 2012. Before you offer any congratulations, understand that the role of Chair is simply rotated amongst the members of the Board. Yes, there is technically an election, but tradition here has been that the position of Chair rotates. Each county does this somewhat differently. In some counties, a single individual has served as Chair for over 25 years. There are counties that have spirited, contested elections for Chair. In other counties, the role of Chair rotates, but only between members of the majority party. Many counties operate as we do. It is all over the board. (Pun intended!) Serving as the Chair is interesting. There really is more work involved – primarily legislative. The amount of extra work here can vary greatly, but for me in 2012 it was probably 3 extra hours per week for 25 weeks. As always, the amount of work any given Supervisor puts in can and does vary greatly. There is also at least one additional meeting per week to set the weekly agendas. Plus, the Chair has to sign everything. That might not sound like much, but it would surprise you! I counted, and last week I had over 175 documents requiring my signature! The biggest difference between serving as Chair and simply serving as a Board member is running the meetings. Running meetings well requires more than just reading the agenda. To do it well, one needs to watch the clock, keep everyone involved, and clearly summarize things. It is tougher than it looks! Last time I served as Chair was 2008. Blizzards, floods, evacuations, curfews… 2012 was a piece of cake compared to that! Good luck to Supervisor Rettig as she slides into the role of Chair for 2013! *New Committee Assignments The Board of Supervisors tries to rotate the committees upon which its’ members serve. We typically serve on any given committee for 2-3 years, then move on. This ensures that all members get a certain amount of exposure to everything we do. It also ensures that a fresh set of eyes gets involved every so often. This rotation takes place in January every year, so we are all taking on some new and different challenges. I will be serving in the following roles for 2013: I will be serving on the Board of the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD), which is an appointment I have never held previously. I will be Johnson County’s representative on the MH/DS Regional Board. This is a new (and yet-to-be-codified) Board. I worked in the field previously and know many of the players; I think that will help. Another completely new assignment is the Sixth Judicial District Advisory Board. I spent over a decade teaching Batterer’s Education for the Sixth Judicial, so I look forward to reconnecting with some old comrades there. I will be returning to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of Johnson County Board, the Juvenile Justice Youth Development Board, and the Job Evaluation Team. I will also be the Liaison to Oxford, Riverside, and Iowa County. *Salvos Salutes – Follow Up Last week I gave the seventh annual Salvos Salutes to 11 different Johnson County residents. The interesting thing? In previous years, these awards have generated a great deal of discussion. Some folks love a pick or two; others hate a pick or two. This year? Virtually nothing. I’m not certain what to make of this. Maybe it was just too close to Christmas, and people failed to read it. Perhaps I have become predictable. Maybe I need to push the envelope a bit more. Whatever the case, readers, you continue to keep me guessing! *Call It What It Is – Austerity! The ongoing debate over the so-called “fiscal cliff” makes me angry on many levels. One of the most fundamental problems I have with the whole thing was the decision to make any deal at all! Remember – the “fiscal cliff” is a manufactured problem. It came about because House Republicans refused to vote to raise the debt ceiling – a mostly ceremonial vote that simply authorizes paying debts that were already incurred. If there was a time to call a bluff, it was back then. Yes, the US credit would be downgraded. Undoubtedly the markets would suffer. But the billionaires and multi-millionaires who would stand to lose the most would have quickly gotten that rectified with the members of the House that they own. Instead, the President and other Democrats agreed to create the mess we now know as the “fiscal cliff”. And what they did by agreeing to this was acknowledge that the US MUST go through austerity measures. Personally, I think this is a mistake. While I do believe that the US should work toward a balanced budget, it is much more important in the short term that we stimulate the economy. Most economists agree (including most Nobel Laureates) that the US economy remains fragile, and could benefit from some stimulus. Look at the devastating effects austerity measures have had in Europe. It is clear that austerity must be instituted over long periods of time, and not forced quickly upon a struggling economy. Interestingly, most economists also agree as to which types of stimulus are the most efficient. Food stamps and extended unemployment are the most efficient. Infrastructure spending and increased payments to states are next. Education and research are good investments. Spending on the military is not nearly as good a bang for the buck. Every type of tax cut suffers by comparison. I didn’t make this up. The CBO and other nonpartisan researchers have run the numbers. The President’s original stimulus did not fail; it was actually quite successful. But it would have been much more successful had it not consisted of over 50% tax cuts! Once we get back on our feet, long-term changes should be implemented to reach a balanced budget. But not until! That is why the decision to accept the premise that we needed to get started on austerity was such a bad bargain for the US! Austerity now is not the answer! *DID YOU KNOW? Auld Lang Syne means “times gone by”. 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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