Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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October 25, 2013

Sullivan’s Salvos     10/29/13

In this edition:

*Thank You Don Saxton!
*Iowa City Human Rights Awards
*Jail Population
*Jail/Courthouse Future Plans
*A Lighter Jail Note
*Did You Know?

*Thank You Don Saxton!
         An era is coming to an end. In a week, voters in Oxford will go to the polls. And for the first time in forever, Don Saxton will not be on the ballot.

         Don Saxton is winding down a truly remarkable career in elected office. Six years on the City Council and 38 – that is correct, 38 – years as Mayor. To three generations, Don Saxton IS Oxford!

         While Mayor Saxton’s career is impressive in terms of quantity, it is even better in terms of quality. No mayor has worked harder. Power outages, fires, cars that won’t start, snowstorms, stray dogs … Don responds to everything. No complaint is too small for Don. He listens to them all. And he does so in that kind, gracious, manner that is Don’s alone.

Don has served on every imaginable committee, most for several decades. Emergency Management, MPO, Conference Board... whenever the committee called for a Mayor, Don responded.

         It is kinda funny – you all know of Oxford resident Peter Feldstein’s outstanding work, “The Oxford Project”. Feldstein photographed every single resident of Oxford, first in 1984 and again in 2005. Folks laugh that Don’s photos look almost identical; I’ve heard people joke that he’s probably wearing the same shirt.

         While this is funny, it also gets to the heart of what makes Don so wonderful – consistency. The sun will rise in the east, and Don Saxton will do his job as Mayor. It is CLASSIC Iowa. Nothing fancy, just get the job done and refuse to accept credit or thanks.

To top it all off, you will not find a finer human being. Don Saxton is a true gentleman. Oxford has been blessed – for over 40 years!

Congratulations, Don, on a well-deserved retirement!

*Iowa City Human Rights Awards
         I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: Iowa City’s historic commitment to Human Rights is one of my favorite things about that city. It was a huge factor in my decision to live there.

         As I have noted in Salvos many times, the current Iowa City Council risks throwing all this away. The cavalier disregard for human rights demonstrated by this Council should be a deep cause for concern. It should be an issue in municipal elections.

         With this concern as the backdrop, I attended the 30th annual Human Rights Breakfast. I go every year, but this was a very special event, as it was also the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Commission.

Award winners were: Kafi Dixon (Linda Severson Award); Working Group Theater (Rick Graf Award); Misty Rebik (Kenneth Cmiel Award); Yashar Vasef (International Award); Bob Welsh (Isabel Turner Award); Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (Bill Reagan Community Award); A. Mori Costantino (Lifetime Achievement Award); Jean Lloyd-Jones (Lifetime Achievement Award).

         A special nod to my friend Bob Welsh, who won for his 50 years of advocacy for - well- just about everyone who is disadvantaged in any way! You will never find a kinder gentleman. Bob Welsh is simply amazing!

The Center for Worker Justice and Misty Rebik rocked my world! Fantastic example of how to walk the walk!

And how cool that every speaker touched on either racial issues and/or affordable housing? Those are the issues we are facing, folks!

Thanks to the Iowa City Human Rights Commission for its efforts, and for putting together this event. And congratulations to this outstanding group of honorees! Keep fighting – we need you now more than ever!

*Jail Population
         I have been doing some thinking about the population currently housed in the County jail. Deputy Brian Kahler works overnights at the jail, and he has been doing “snapshots” of who is in the jail on any given day. The results are interesting, and I commend Brian for all his extra effort.

         He has done the statistics for a couple of different days, the most recent being September 28. There were 140 people held that night, about 90 here in our facility and 50 shipped out to other counties.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of information is the fact that the average number of prior arrests for that group was about 5.5. I want to spend some time dissecting this number. (I did not check with Brian, so I’ll be making some assumptions. Please bear with me.)

         If we take 5.5 times 140, we get 770 previous arrests. I think it is probably safe to assume that several people are there for the first time. My previous work in this field taught me that many folks change their behavior after a second arrest; they felt the first was some type of fluke, etc. So prisoners who have zero and one prior arrest are probably going to be a fairly large percentage of this group.

         Let’s assume that 30 people are in for the first time, and another 30 for a second. That amounts to 60 people with 30 previous arrests. That means the other 80 prisoners had 740 previous arrests – an average of better than 9 apiece!

         My guess is that if we really dig into this, there were a handful of individuals who were arrested that night who have been arrested 20 or more times each. These are the folks who really skew the numbers.

         Let’s keep my first and second time numbers, and also assume there are 10 people who have been arrested 20 times each. Now you have 70 people remaining that have 540 previous arrests – an average of 7.7 apiece.

         Granted, this is all speculation on my part. But it is informed speculation. There are both very low users and very high users contributing to our average.

         More importantly, these people with 20+ arrests are the “frequent users” we talked about a few weeks ago. We desperately need to address this group of people who take up so many resources. We are not serving them well. I look forward to continuing to work with Shelter House to adopt the “frequent user” model here in Johnson County.

*Jail/Courthouse Future Plans
         The Johnson County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff, and County Attorney met on Monday, October 14 to discuss future plans for the jail and courthouse.

         I left the meeting extremely frustrated. I really encourage folks to listen for yourselves. I think you’ll find it enlightening. Audio from the meeting can be found at:

         The first 90 minutes of the meeting is rehashing the past two elections. The final 115 minutes is where the real discussion occurs.

         Another meeting was held 1:15pm on Thursday, October 24th. Still, nothing was decided. Now we move to Wednesday, November 6 at 4:30 pm. Stay tuned!

*A Lighter Jail Note
         Lori Lindner and her husband Doug do a great job covering County news through the two papers for which they work – the Solon Economist and the North Liberty Leader.

         Lori made my day when she sent the following link:

         As you can see, the idea of a new jail was controversial then as now. Thanks, Lori, for sharing this piece of our history!

*DID YOU KNOW?  Mayor Saxton lived his whole life in Oxford, with the exception of a couple years being away at college.

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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