Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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May 18, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     5/21/13

In this edition:

*RIP Gerald Morgan
*Memorial Day
*Solon Fire Breakfast
*Property Taxes
*Did You Know?

*RIP Gerald Morgan
         Johnson County lost a wonderful ambassador with the recent passing of Gerald Morgan. The unofficial Mayor of River Junction, Gerald and his wife Joan were involved in too many volunteer efforts to mention here.

         Gerald was a longtime member of the Johnson County Conservation Board, and his quiet leadership helped make our Conservation Department the envy of the state. His stewardship of Walker Park and River Junction Access will be sorely missed – Gerald was President of the River Junction Old Settlers’ Society. In addition, Gerald served long and well on the Board of the Johnson County Historical Society and the Lone Tree Lions Club. He was also a longtime Fremont Township Trustee

Gerald was very active in the local agricultural community, serving as the President of the Johnson County Farm Bureau. He was also a fan of antique Oliver tractors, especially his purple one. Gerald and I had several discussions about this, as my Grandfather had an antique Oliver that he cherished. Gerald channeled some of his passion into organizing antique tractor rides that boosted tourism in Johnson County.

         Most importantly, the Morgans did a lot for local children, from playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus to hosting Easter egg hunts to Halloween parties. And though Gerald might be upset that I pointed this out, I am pretty certain there have been many charitable donations labeled “anonymous” that have Gerald’s fingerprints on them.

         Finally, it should be noted that Gerald was a true gentleman. He was always calm, and could see all sides of any argument. Gerald was usually one of the first people invited to serve on any committee, because he would work long and hard, offer good advice, and be happy about the whole mess!

I recognized the Morgans with a Salvos Salute in 2011. I certainly could have done so sooner! Gerald deserves a better send off than I am able to deliver here. He was a wonderful man who touched a lot of lives, and left some very big shoes to fill. You simply do not replace a man like Gerald Morgan. RIP, Gerald!

*Memorial Day
         Happy Memorial Day to all! I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and I hope you spend at least a part of it remembering those who have served our Country.

         Also, a note: Johnson County Veterans Affairs is raising money to erect a memorial at the site of the Old Armory. Commemorative bricks can be purchased for only $75. For more information, see:

*Solon Fire Breakfast
         The Solon Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 50th Annual Pancake Breakfast Sunday, May 26 from 6:30-12:30 at the firehouse in Solon.

*Property Taxes
         Unfortunately, the Iowa Legislature is determined to cut property taxes, without regard for the effects on the people they represent.

         Here is the deal: local governments provide services to local people. The locals elect a group to represent their interests when it comes to taxation and other issues. If locals do not like the work of the local elected bodies, they can vote them out. The system works.

         Meanwhile, Legislators in Des Moines, who are NOT responsible for providing these local services, decide to replace the will of the local voters with their OWN lobbyist-influenced agenda, and cut property taxes for wealthy people.

         The current proposal would cost Johnson County anywhere between $600,000 and $2,600,000. (That is just County government; cities would also face deep cuts.) Even the lower of those two numbers would be devastating!

Republicans and Democrats alike have decided this is a good idea. I urge you all to contact your Legislators and ask them to leave local government alone! Below is a copy of a note I sent to Legislators on Tuesday:

Dear Legislators:

I know you are busy, so I’ll be brief. A $600,000 cut to the County budget will almost certainly lead to either:

A) cutting most of our support for human services;
B) laying off union employees; or
C) some combination of the two.

Our hands are tied. We have nothing else we can do. The people of Johnson County do not want to be faced with that choice.

Please think about this before you vote to cut property taxes.


Rod Sullivan
Johnson County
Board of Supervisors

         I have heard many people in the community complain recently about aesthetics. The 20-story tower, the proposed Justice Center, rules about where to store trash cans, the UI Community Credit Union HQ in North Liberty – all have been widely panned for how they look.

         I think this is a bigger issue in Johnson County than in most places. There are many people here wandering around with degrees in art, art history, urban planning, etc. There are an inordinate number of residents who place a high value on how things look. And that is fine, to a point. I simply believe some people take it too far.

Don’t get me wrong; I like things to be beautiful, and I am willing to pay extra for it. I support the arts in schools pre-K through Ph.D. I support Historic Preservation Districts. I also understand that there is a human need for beauty. It is just that I place other human needs first.

         As for the proposed Moen Tower? I don’t give a damn if it is one story or fifty. Iowa City TIFs it, (taking tax dollars from the County that would go to aid the poor) then hands the money to a wealthy investment group. Then the only people who can live there are rich. I did not get into public service to comfort the comfortable, but apparently the City Manager and 5 Council members did. So 20 stories? Who really cares? That is not the issue. If you think it is, you should reexamine your priorities.

         I understand people who voted against the Justice Center because of philosophical differences with the Board. But if you voted against it because of how it looked? Your priorities and mine simply do not mesh.

I guarantee you – when whatever deity you choose to worship comes to take account of your life, she/He is NOT going to reward you for your dedication to aesthetics over the needs of the poor.

*DID YOU KNOW?  43 Iowa Counties have higher property tax rates than Johnson County, ranking Johnson 44 out of the 99 counties. (Source: Iowa State Association of Counties.)

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.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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