Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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October 12, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     10/15/13

In this edition:

*Iowa City Elections
*IC Human Rights Breakfast
*Run For The Schools
*Did You Know?

*Iowa City Elections
         It is election season in Iowa City, and as you might imagine, I have some thoughts.

         I subscribe to the theory that most local governments suffer from a severe case of groupthink. Elected officials are busy people, who typically hold other jobs. They simply don’t have the time to dive into the many relevant topics the way they should. When an elected official lacks information, she/he turns to the person with the info – in this case, the City Manager.

         So one person – he with the most information – ends up with tremendous power. No matter how smart your manager might be, he (they are almost always he) needs to be challenged. Eight heads are better than one. He needs people asking questions. That simply does not occur in Iowa City today. This council has decided to just go along.

I also see Iowa City doing many wrong things right now. The city is moving away from all of its historical strengths. Let’s look at just a few:

AAA Bond Rating: Iowa City seems determined to follow the rest of our cities down the TIF path. The city now falls all over itself giving handouts to private businesses – and they aren’t even choosing the correct businesses! Steve Atkins’ Iowa City used to be “above the fray” when it came to these financial shenanigans. Let’s return to those days!

Diversity: Iowa City used to value diversity. Now we have a police force that routinely harasses people of color. The message people of color get is very clear – we don’t want you here! This Council has been unwilling to address this in any meaningful way.

Respect for Civil/Human Rights: You can’t pass things out downtown. You can’t lie down downtown. You can’t talk to passers by downtown. Basically, you cannot do ANYTHING downtown – if you are poor, anyway. They’ll look the other way if you appear to have money. Why isn’t all of this unconstitutional? I do not understand how the ACLU has not sued and won on these issues. More importantly, I do not understand how any Council could think these rules make sense.

Caring: Iowa City used to care about people with less. Not anymore. In the race to “catch” Coralville, this council decided the poor need to live in other communities. This Council is going to sell public housing, even if it makes no financial sense. Despite 30 years of evidence to the contrary, they will vote against inclusionary zoning. They’ll say they “prefer incentives to requirements”. And it won’t work – just like it hasn’t worked for 30 years. They’ll spend tax dollars to subsidize crappy jobs with no benefits. And yes, Eleanor – the people who are unable to pay your $65 “poor person’s fine” WILL go to jail in the end.

Innovative: Iowa City used to be innovative. This was a city that tried things. Look at how this Council stressed over urban chickens. They are so cautious that they are afraid of their own shadows. Unless Marc Moen has an idea. Then they will throw caution (and money) to the wind, and anything goes.

Intergovernmental Relations: Iowa City used to be very cooperative. Now they are looking to screw Johnson County at every opportunity. From major issues like JECC, the animal shelter, and SEATS to smaller slights such as the Trueblood Rec Area and MPO votes, the Markus administration’s goal seems to be to put the hurt on Johnson County. I’m sure Coralville feels every bit as warm and fuzzy about the way IC is behaving. Heck, Iowa City won’t even agree to a joint meeting with Johnson County. 9 of the 11 cities in the county have already done so. What are they afraid of?

Fun place to be: Iowa City used to be a fun place to be. This Council wants to be certain no one has any fun. They even want to screw up things like the Farmer’s Market that run well without their interference. They want a reputation of quiet, somber solemnity. It is not fun.

I do not like where Iowa City is headed. We need a change. We can and should do better. So I suggest shaking up the Council.

I support Kingsley Botchway and Rockne Cole in the At Large race, and RoyceAnn Porter in District B.

         I have seen Kingsley’s work firsthand at Johnson County. He is bright, enthusiastic, and hard working. He would bring the perspective of a young person and a person of color – both perspectives this Council sorely needs.

         Rockne Cole has ideas. He is willing to think outside the box. And as an immigration attorney, he is not interested in stripping more rights from more people.

         I have known RoyceAnn Porter since our daughters first became friends over a decade ago. RoyceAnn tells it like it is. If the emperor is not wearing any clothes, she’ll tell you.

         This is not a knock on the other candidates. They are all very nice people. I just don’t see them changing the way IC does business. And we need a change. Desperately.

Iowa City needs to shake things up. We have an opportunity to do just that. I urge you to vote Kingsley Botchway, Rockne Cole, and RoyceAnn Porter for City Council.

*IC Human Rights Breakfast
The 30th Annual Iowa City Human Rights Breakfast will be Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 am at the Sheraton Hotel.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission (ICHRC), the community is invited to participate in creating a local human rights/social justice vision for the next fifty years by participating in the ICHRC’s, “I Have a Dream…. for Iowa City” community engagement campaign.  

A slideshow featuring these dreams for the future, as well as local human rights struggles and victories over the past fifty years will be shown at the IC Human Rights Commission’s Annual Human Rights Breakfast.

Past ICHRC Commissioners and community members are also encouraged to share any newspaper clippings, photos, and/or personal memories they have about the IC Human Rights Commission and its work. This can be done by posting to the ICHRC Facebook page ( or by contacting Harry Olmstead at 319.338.2931 or email:

The IC Human Rights Commission was established on September 3, 1963, just days after the historic March on Washington, August 28, 1963, at which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the historic, “I Have a Dream…” speech. As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Iowa City community is encouraged to look back over all that has been accomplished in the last fifty years and envision what is yet to be accomplished in the next fifty.

Tickets for the IC Human Rights Commission’s 30th Annual Human Rights Breakfast on October 24, 2013 cost $20 and can be purchased at the Cashier’s Desk at City Hall (410 E. Washington Street, Iowa City). A limited number of reduced price tickets are also available and can be reserved by calling 319.356.5022.

*Run For The Schools
         You can Run for the Schools on Sunday, October 20. To register or for more information, see:

*DID YOU KNOW?  Current Iowa City Councilor Connie Champion has served 4 full 4-year terms. She is the first Iowa City Councilor to serve that long since at least 1970.

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

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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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