Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 28, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/2/13

In this edition:

*Happy Independence Day!
*RIP Maynard Hebl
*Supreme Court Decisions
*”Death To DOMA” Celebration
*Welcome Dana Aschenbrenner!
*Did You Know?

*Happy Independence Day!
         Happy Independence Day! If you are a regular reader, you know that I am a Thomas Jefferson buff. July 4th always reminds me of this amazing but true story:

         Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4th, 1826 – exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They were the last surviving Founding Fathers – Jefferson at age 82, and Adams at age 90. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson lives,” though Jefferson had actually passed away four hours earlier.

         Wow. We live in an amazing Country! Perhaps you believe in fate, perhaps not. But that is a pretty cool story!

         I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!

*RIP Maynard Hebl
         Johnson County lost an icon this past week with the passing of Maynard Hebl.

         Maynard was a VERY active volunteer, including the heading up the Johnson County Cattlemen’s Association and serving several years on the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission.

         Maynard even held two elected offices at once: Union Township Trustee, and Ag Extension Director. You could always count on Maynard to step up when help was needed.

         It never really surprised me that the Iowa City Landfill was developed on/near Hebl family land, because Maynard was very easy to get along with. I’d prefer to negotiate with that smiling gentleman in the cowboy hat over just about anyone else!

         Maynard Hebl was a kind and generous man with a great attitude, who left us far too soon. RIP Maynard.

*Supreme Court Decisions
         The United States Supreme Court has been in the news a lot lately, with several big decisions in the past few days. I am a bit of a Supreme Court junkie, so it was a very exciting week!

         While I am excited by the Windsor Ruling that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I was crushed by the decision in Shelby to gut the Voting Rights Act. Add in other Court decisions that were very anti-worker and anti-Affirmative Action, and my celebration is somewhat muted. I am THRILLED for my LGBTQ friends, but find myself looking at huge uphill battles in other areas. The rich and powerful still retain tight control on this country.

I’ll be honest; I HATE the Roberts Court! It is not that they are so very conservative, though they are. It is because despite the typical conservative moaning over “activist judges”, this is the most activist court since the mid-60s, and perhaps EVER! They say one thing, then do another.

         Needless to say, the recent case that seemed the most hypocritical was Bush v. Gore in 2000. I realize that was the Renquist Court and not the Roberts Court, but Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy all played key roles in that debacle. It was the very height of hypocrisy: the pro- “State’s Rights” Court overturning a State of Florida decision. We have witnessed similar hypocrisy in the past week, as Justice Alito criticizes his colleagues for “overreaching” during Windsor, even though the day before he voted to invalidate a provision the Court was not even reviewing!

Speaking to the conservatism of the current Court is this 2010 article from US News and World Report: “A new paper by Richard Posner, a judge who sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, is now making its way through the academic community. In "Rational Judicial Behavior: A Statistical Study," Posner and Landes use a database that includes the political background and voting records of the past 70 years of Supreme Court justices—who appointed each justice and how the justices decided every case—to come up with a ranking, from most conservative to least conservative, of the 43 justices who have served on the court since 1937.”

“Their conclusion: Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since Franklin Roosevelt, including Roberts and Alito, are currently sitting on the bench today. Justice Anthony Kennedy, another current Republican appointee, is ranked No. 10. (The table has a full list.) Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, the two current justices nominated by Democratic presidents, are among the 15 "least conservative" justices of the past 70 years. Thurgood Marshall, who became the first black Supreme Court justice when he was appointed in 1967, has the most liberal voting record on the list. Clarence Thomas, the second black justice, who was appointed to the court in 1991, is ranked the most conservative.”

         Even when forced by facts to do the right thing (such as approving the Affordable Care Act) they throw conservatives a large bone (no need to expand Medicaid!) that wasn’t even on the table. Again, this is the most activist court in at least 50 years.

         I firmly believe that some day, the Roberts Court will be viewed with the same disdain as the Waite Court of the 1870s and ‘80s. That Court undermined Reconstruction, allowing Jim Crow, and decided in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad that corporations are people. They allowed the robber barons to gain unprecedented wealth without regulation. Unfortunately, we still suffer from their decisions 130 years later.

*”Death to DOMA” Celebration
         My misgivings about this Supreme Court did not stop me from joining the “Death to DOMA” celebration at the UI Pentacrest. It was great to see so many folks so happy! Congratulations to all on this historic day!

*Welcome Dana Aschenbrenner!
         Johnson County named its first-ever Finance Director this past week with the appointment of Dana Aschenbrenner of Iowa City.

         Dana is no stranger to County government, having served almost 11 years as a Deputy Auditor and almost 2 years as a Deputy Treasurer.

         The Finance Department is a new creation, and a cost-neutral attempt at a more integrated system of financial oversight. To create the department, the Treasurer’s Office, Auditor’s Office, and Board of Supervisors’ Office each gave up an employee.

         I look forward to greater cooperation and better results for the public. Congrats, Dana!

*DID YOU KNOW?  James Monroe, the 5th President of the United States, also died on July 4th.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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