Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 14, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 12/18/12 In this edition: *Social Security and the “Cliff” *Diversity Committee *Regional Mental Health *Drought Rages On *Salvos Salutes Next Week! *Did You Know? *Social Security and the “Cliff” There is a lot of discussion out there regarding the so-called “fiscal cliff”. Unfortunately, many of the discussions include cuts to Social Security. Nothing angers me more! Social Security has never added ONE DIME to the US debt or deficit – in actuality, Congress has robbed the Social Security Trust Fund for other purposes in the past! You PAY IN to Social Security. This is no handout! It is the best social insurance program we have ever had, and for good reason! It was designed to be self-sustaining, and it works! If we do NOTHING, Social Security is solvent through 2037. With a couple very minor tweaks, it is fine for 60 years. Simply removing the cap on incomes that are subject to the tax would make Social Security solvent pretty much forever! I believe the federal government should slowly but surely balance the budget. This needs to be done AFTER the economic recovery has taken hold. It should be done through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. And it needs to be done WITHOUT changing Social Security. Leave Social Security alone! *Diversity Committee Johnson County is one of the most diverse counties in Iowa. We are about 7% African American, 6% Latino, 7% Asian, and 1% “other”. Not diverse by California standards, but very diverse in Iowa! And that is only ethnic diversity – we also have several residents with disabilities, a large LGBTQ population, a growing group of seniors, and many other types of diversity within the county. Like many Johnson County residents, I am proud of our diversity. But in some key ways, diversity has escaped us. We (Johnson County) are not doing very well when it comes to hiring a diverse workforce. We may not be doing all we can to support those diverse employees we already have. Heck, we may not even know what we don’t know! To address these and other concerns, Johnson County has started a Diversity Committee. I serve on the committee, along with about 8 other county employees. I am looking forward to the work of this committee. Meanwhile, if you have thoughts, I’d like to hear them! Some of you are employers who face similar challenges. Some of you are the diverse folks I am describing. Whatever the case, I appreciate any help you can offer! *Regional Mental Health During the 2012 Legislative Session, the Iowa Legislature made a series of huge changes to the services provided to people with disabilities. Previous to this legislation, counties were a primary funder/provider of Mental Health and Disability Services (MH/DS). Now, counties are part of larger regions that will serve in that capacity. The politics of creating a region have been remarkable. Like making sausage, it is best that few were around to bear witness! The process is not yet finished – all counties will need to enter into a formal intergovernmental (28E) agreement to codify the region. Any or all counties could still opt out. That said, Johnson County has ended up in a proposed region that I feel very good about: Johnson, Iowa, Benton, Linn, Jones, Dubuque, and Delaware counties. Representatives from these 7 counties have begun meeting to hammer out a potential regional system. Each county has already agreed to a tentative arrangement in which one Supervisor from each county serves as that county’s representative. I am Johnson County’s rep to the region. The regions have some big decisions to make: Who is eligible for services? What limits will be put upon those services? Who will provide the services? These are but a few of the critical determinations the regions will be making. I think it is safe to say that no county wanted this change to take place. We have added a layer of bureaucracy without increasing services. The existing MH/DS system WAS broken, but this did not fix anything. But the Legislature did what it did. The old way of doing business is over. We do not like it, but we must adjust to the new reality. I will update you as to our progress. *Drought Rages On When I think of droughts, I think of the growing season. Once crops have come in out of the field, the need for precipitation becomes less critical in some ways, and less obvious in others. But make no mistake – our drought rages on! There were some rains in the fall that helped a great deal, but they simply did not keep up. We are desperately dry, and it is getting worse. This is the worst time of year for precipitation, too. Cold air holds less water in general. Water can sometimes run off of frozen ground. An inch of snow looks like a lot of precipitation, but it is the equivalent of only about a tenth of an inch of rain. We are so dry now that even a slightly above average spring rainfall will not be enough. Groundwater levels are extremely low! The situation really is desperate! So, spend your next few weeks dreaming of a white Christmas. Or at least a wet one! *Salvos Salutes Next Week! We live in a GREAT county! Why? Because of the great people that live here. Unfortunately, we rarely do enough to acknowledge these wonderful people and the wonderful things they do. That is why I really look forward to Salvos Salutes. It provides an opportunity to mention just a few of these cool people and the good things they do. I hope you look forward to it as well! *DID YOU KNOW? One in ten people younger than age 64 has some type of disability. (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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