Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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August 10, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     8/13/13

In this edition:

*Happy Birthday Melissa!
*Welcome Angela Laffey!
*Work? Campaign? Personal?
*Where Have You Been Lately?
*Landlocked Film Festival
*Did You Know?

*Happy Birthday Melissa!
         Happy Birthday to my wife Melissa. You know, in the age of Facebook, it is becoming cliché to write a blurb praising your spouse. The compliments often sound hollow. Yet I’m going to do the exact same thing!

         I have got to tell you – Melissa Fath is AMAZING! Her ability to balance research with her roles as a wife, mother, and community member – I have no words to do it justice! I guess I’ll just stick to: Happy Birthday, Honey! I love you!

*Welcome Angela Laffey!
         For the first time in 27 years, the Board office has a new secretary. Angela Laffey of Oxford recently took the position, and has been a wonderful addition to the team!

         So, if you stop in the Board office or call 356-6000, introduce yourself to Angela. I’m sure you’ll find her to be very helpful!

*Work? Campaign? Personal?
         I wrote this article for Salvos last year, but the issue continues to be of interest. I have edited last year’s article to incorporate new info.

Supervisors face choices when they engage in certain activities in the community. Is the activity work, campaigning, or personal?

         An example: I used to volunteer at the ICARE Pancake Breakfast. I volunteered for this breakfast for quite some time – longer than I have served as a Supervisor.

         So, was I working? It hardly strikes me as work – it is a volunteer gig. Yet I know some Supervisors would consider it work.

         Was I campaigning? I suppose a cynic would say that every public appearance by a Supervisor is campaigning. But it did not feel like campaigning to me.

         I feel as though I was volunteering. (I also bought a ticket, even though volunteers ate free.) That makes it my personal time. I think that is the way the public would want it. But it is not always so clear.

         Let’s use another example: I always attend the Solon Firefighters Pancake Breakfast. While I have not volunteered, I do purchase a ticket, which helps the cause.

         Working? That would be a tough case to make! Volunteering? Only if you consider eating volunteer work! Campaigning? I would say yes.

         Another scenario: while at Hy-Vee, three different people each stop a Sup and take ten minutes discussing work-related items. Is that work? If not, what is it? Volunteering? Can you volunteer at your job? (Union rules often strictly prohibit this so no abuses can take place.)

Is a Sup working when reading work related materials at home? Is it work to attend a Chamber luncheon? Is it work to just drive some gravel roads?

While this might be an interesting exercise for an elected official, it is only important to the public in one way: does the elected official put in enough work? Does she/he get results? Do they accomplish what needs to be accomplished? If you work enough, then it really does not matter if some of your time is spent campaigning and volunteering.

         Much gets made of the fact that Supervisor is considered a ¾ time position. I have done my own time studies, and while there is no such thing as a “regular” week, I almost always work right around 80 hours every two weeks.

         While this is more than ¾ time, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration. Supervisors do not punch a clock, so the hours get worked largely when each Sup wants. Some hours are at the office, some are in the community, and some are at home. The flexibility is amazing, and that is worth something.

         As we all know, there are people who can work 80 hours every two weeks and get nothing done. There are folks who can work less and accomplish more. There are folks who you WISH would work less, because they tend to screw things up. There are also those who just go through the motions.

         Personally, I think anyone who complains about the hours and/or the pay should quit whining and take another job. Nobody forces you to run for office. On the other hand, the pay must be substantial enough to attract good candidates.

         Meanwhile, when one Supervisor works considerably less than the others, it has an effect. Those who are in the office take more calls from the public. They respond to more e-mail more quickly. They spend more time on employee concerns. They are viewed as more accessible by Department Heads, meaning they are consulted more frequently. That means some people work harder than others, though the pay is the same.

So, what are your thoughts? Maintain the status quo? Make Sups full time and pay them more? Reduce the expectations of time spent in the office? Should individual Supervisors be held to account for the hours they spend? Or do you have another suggestion altogether?

*Where Have You Been Lately?
         In a related matter… campaigns are heating up for school board and city council seats. That means candidates will be showing up at all kinds of community events. Sounds great, right? Listen to the people, right? Actually, my friends, this is something you should question!

One thing that really irks me is the candidates who only check in when they are running for reelection. You know the routine – your group meets every month, year after year – and the candidates are there only the month before the election. But they assure you that they care what you think all the time, not just during the election! Right. Actions speak louder than words.

I made a pledge to myself when I was first elected in 2004 that I was not going to play that game. I have worked my tail off to make sure that I do not behave differently during campaign season. I hope people recognize that, but it might be wishful thinking.

         Meanwhile, during this campaign season, don’t hesitate to ask the candidates, “Where have you been lately?”

*Landlocked Film Festival
         The Landlocked Film Festival hits downtown Iowa City August 16-18. I LOVE this event! If you have never gone, you simply must!

         For a complete schedule and/or additional info, see:

*DID YOU KNOW?  There are over 3,000 vehicles bought/sold in Johnson County each month. (Source: Johnson County Treasurer.)

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.

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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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