Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 24, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     1/28/14

In this edition:

*Humus For Haiti
*MLK Service
*Iowa City Charter Review
*Vonnegut and I
*Free Tax Help!
*Did You Know?

*Humus For Haiti
My wife (Melissa Fath) and I are going to Haiti in March with Community Health Initiative (CHI). CHI is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide basic health care to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Fundraising is an important part of the trip. In addition to paying for our flights, we must personally purchase all the medicine we take in. The cost of medicine alone will be well over $1000.

Our friend Ehab Sarsour has generously offered to help us with the fundraising for this trip. Ehab makes the most delicious, creamy humus known to man using fresh lemons and imported chickpeas and olive oil and he is willing to make some for you if you make a donation to CHI. So make a donation in one of the two ways listed below by February 7th. Then e-mail me at and let me know that you have donated. We will then deliver the Humus to your door sometime the weekend of February 15th. 

Donations can be made:

1. On the website using Paypal or a credit card at On the page there is a “add special instructions to the seller” box. Please indicate your preference that it goes to fund the trip of Rod or Melissa’s March trip.

2. Write a check made out to “Community Health Initiative, Haiti”. Please include a note with the check to indicate that it goes to fund the trip of Rod or Melissa’s March trip. Per IRS rules, please do not write our names anywhere on the check. Checks can be mailed to:
Community Health Initiative, Haiti, PO Box 5908, Coralville, Iowa 52241.

Thanks very much for your help!

*MLK Service
         Congratulations to the Consultation of Religious Communities (CRC) for yet another outstanding MLK service.

         My only issue with these services? We need to see some different faces in attendance. Like many other issues, only the “usual suspects” show up.

         Please work with me to change that next year!

*Iowa City Charter Review
         Have you ever wondered why Iowa City government is organized the way it is? It is because of the City Charter – the blueprint for City government.

Iowa City established a City Charter in 1976. Charter Review Commissions were established in ’84, ’94, and ’04. A new 9-member commission will start in ’14 and report to the Council by April 1, 2015.

         I recently made application for this commission. I feel I have a pretty good resume for the job. I am a 30 year resident of Iowa City, and I have a deep love of this city. I had plenty of opportunities to move over the years – I never took them, because Iowa City is where I choose to be. I know the people of Iowa City, and due to a 20-year career in human services, that includes knowledge of groups that are often marginalized. I have spent a decade working in local government, and have received the electoral support of the people of the city three times. I am also a public policy geek. That geekiness includes the structures and functions of local governments. My level of knowledge – both locally and more broadly – would be a real benefit to the commission.

         Despite that resume, I am not certain I’ll get much consideration. I have been a persistent critic of Iowa City, and my guess is that some will hold that against me.

         Meanwhile, if you live in Iowa City, YOU should apply. They need a large and diverse group of applicants. I realize I am recruiting the competition here, but I urge you to throw your hat in the ring.

*Vonnegut and I
         I recently reread Slaughterhouse Five, the classic work that author Kurt Vonnegut wrote while teaching at the UI Writer’s Workshop. I have also been thinking a lot lately about the income inequality that is so pervasive in our country.

         Suddenly, the two came together. I had completely forgotten the following passage, but I thought it was worth reprinting here:

         “Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since say, Napoleonic times.”

         “Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves. Once this is understood, the disagreeable behavior of American enlisted men in German prisons ceases to be a mystery.”

         Vonnegut’s writing may include too many space aliens for your liking, but he gets at some very fundamental truths.

*Free Tax Help!
         One of my proudest accomplishments as a Supervisor has been instituting the Free Tax Help clinics in Johnson County. These have been tremendously successful, bringing over $1 million annually into the local economy.

         This service is available for free to taxpayers earning less than $50,000 a year. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program trains University of Iowa students and AARP volunteers to provide FREE Income Tax Preparation Services to qualifying workers. Additionally, the University of Iowa student volunteers have completed a semester long tax preparation course.

There are six (6) locations throughout Johnson County that provide FREE Tax Preparation Services – Garner Elementary in North Liberty, Northwest Junior High in Coralville, Southeast Junior High in Iowa City, the Iowa City Public Library, the Tippe College of Business, and the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. Schedules are available on the website. Spanish translators are available at some locations by appointment.

Johnson County is pleased to partner with the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Johnson County AARP, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City Community School District, Iowa City Housing Authority, and United Way of Johnson County. Financial support is provided by ISED Ventures, University of Iowa Community Credit Union, United Way of Johnson County, and Veridian Credit Union. 

For much more information, please visit the County web page:

*DID YOU KNOW?  Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), “the best least-read novelist in America,” taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1965 to 1967. He was then 43-years old, and married to Jane Marie Cox for 20 years; they had three children of their own and had adopted the three children of Vonnegut’s deceased sister. The writer came to Iowa City with his two daughters, Edith (Eddie) and Nannette (Nannie).

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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