Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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September 21, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/24/13

In this edition:

*Congrats Mike Quinlan!
*Northside Oktoberfest
*Political Pet Peeves
*Did You Know?

*Congrats Mike Quinlan!
         Congratulations to Mike Quinlan of the Department of Corrections on his retirement after 20+ years.

         Iowa’s Sixth Judicial District is more than just a probation and parole office. And Mike Quinlan is more than just another corrections officer.

         For several years, the 6th has embraced a “restorative justice” philosophy. The idea is pretty simple – if you made a mess, you need to clean it up.

         This can take several forms. In some cases, offenders actually apologize to victims. (In other cases, that is neither appropriate nor desired.) In many cases, offenders “pay back” their debt to society by doing work in the community. This is the program Mike Quinlan has supervised for several years.

         Not only do these offenders do thousands of dollars worth of work, they also learn valuable job skills. Perhaps most importantly, they often develop empathy for others in our community.

         The program is great, plain and simple. But it will never work without the right person in charge – someone who is tough but fair. Someone who treats people with respect but holds them accountable. Someone who is willing to work hard and lead by example. Someone who cares about the community and believes in giving back.

         That someone is Mike Quinlan. A truly great guy doing truly great work. Congratulations on your retirement, Mike – you will be missed!

         We have apples! Please feel free to take all you want! Just e-mail me and we’ll arrange a time. We have a picker; bring your own bucket (BYOB)!

*Northside Oktoberfest
         Northside Oktoberfest is Saturday, September 28 from 10-6 in Iowa City’s historic Northside Marketplace.

         There will be food, drink, games, music, and events for all ages. This is also your opportunity to partake in BrewFest 2013!

         For more info, see:

         Johnson County spends a great deal on human services. Though we get relatively good outcomes, there are folks out there who are difficult to serve.

Johnson County recently received a presentation on the “frequent user” model of addressing the needs of our most difficult to serve clients. This presentation is timely, as Iowa City has recently decided to criminalize several additional behaviors downtown. That will only increase our problems with this group of folks.

A better approach would be the FUSE model presented by Shelter House. FUSE refers to Frequent Users of Service. This could refer to many different services – ambulance, jail, emergency room, detox, shelter, courts, police, etc. All of these services cost money to provide.

Perhaps some of you have heard the story of “Million Dollar Murray”. Murray Barr was a homeless man in Reno, Nevada. Over the course of 10 years, the City of Reno, Washoe County, and the State of Nevada spent over a million dollars locking him up, treating him in emergency rooms, putting him through detox, etc. Unfortunately, Murray’s story is not unique. A study in Denver showed that 5% of the social service clients used 55% of the resources.

         So, many cities and counties have turned to the FUSE model. Providing housing for folks in this situation is the most cost-effective treatment available. Some folks blanch at this approach. We have poor folks who are “more deserving”; why should this guy who causes so much trouble get served ahead of them?

         I certainly understand that argument. My response would be: serve him, save a lot of money, then serve more folks with the savings.

         The biggest obstacle to making the FUSE model work is the lack of affordable housing. The lack of affordable housing is at a crisis level here in Johnson County, so this might make beginning such a program unfeasible.

I actually think Johnson County may be able to provide a key piece to the puzzle. As you may know, Johnson County owns the houses across from the jail. We rent most of them out right now. One of two of these houses could easily be adapted to start a FUSE program. Sure, that particular house might not be there forever. But we could help get things started.

         There are things we can do to help our most difficult to serve clients. That does NOT include criminalizing more behaviors. I hope we get the chance to see the FUSE model in action!

*Political Pet Peeves
         I have several pet peeves around politics. Many of those pet peeves cut across political party and ideology. You’ll hear the same series of complaints, whether the President is a Democrat or Republican. Here are just a few:

Peeve: This President takes too many vacation days.
Response: This is easy to judge. Records are kept. Just compare the numbers.

Peeve: Presidential trips cost too much.
Response: Yeah. They cost too much whichever party is in power. And?

Peeve: This particular Presidential trip is political, not public business.
Response: Again – and?

Peeve: The other political party is taking our yard signs.
Response: They took 10% of yours. And you took 10% of theirs. Both parties lost most signs to drunks and mischievous teens.

Peeve: Hitler/Nazi references.
Response: Really? Because they are RARELY a good comparison!

Peeve: This President is stupid.
Response: He went to the Ivy League just like all the rest.

Peeve: We need to impeach this President.
Response: How are his actions any different than those of any other President?

         There are many more, but you get the idea. These superficial arguments do not do anything but create more division. We have REAL issues about which we disagree. Let’s focus on those, and not this extraneous crap.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Johnson County has 1146 homeless people. This does NOT include “couch surfers” or doubled up families. The 1146 total only includes people at shelters or sleeping outside.

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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