Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 21, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     2/25/14

In this edition:

*Congratulations Kevin Kinney!
*Congratulations Joe Lalla!
*Iowa City Charter Review Ideas
*School Weather Cancellations
*Bowl For Kids Sake
*Shelter House Used Book Sale
*Did You Know?

*Congratulations Kevin Kinney!
         Congratulations to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Kevin Kinney on being named the 2013 Iowa Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

         Kevin has spent 28 remarkable years with the Sheriff’s Office, including some very high-profile cases. Kevin was the Detective who cracked the human trafficking ring, broke up the big heroin ring, and arrested murderer Roger Bentley.

         He is not one to brag, but Kevin Kinney deserves this award. He is a true hero of our community. Besides his detective work, Kinney has served several years on the Clear Creek Amana School Board, and farms on the side.

         In addition to this award, Kevin has announced his attention to run for the Iowa Senate in District 39, which includes western and southern Johnson County, Washington County, and Keokuk County. Send him a check – he’s a great guy!

*Congratulations Joe Lalla!
         Congratulations to Captain Joe Lalla on his retirement from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

         I can honestly say that Joe is one of my very favorite people in County government. Joe is funny, smart, hard working, and a straight shooter. He has done GREAT work at the Sheriff’s Office, and he will be missed.

         Congratulations, Joe! Thanks for everything!

*Iowa City Charter Review Ideas
         As I mentioned in an earlier edition of Salvos, I applied to serve on the Iowa City Charter Review Commission. This Commission makes recommendations on the structure and function of Iowa City’s municipal government.

         Just as I suspected, I was not selected to serve. I will admit, I was surprised that I was one of only 8 of the 26 applicants that received ZERO votes! I thought I’d get one, maybe two votes. It is interesting; I got almost 42,000 votes in both 2008 and 2012, yet I got ZERO here. Apparently the seven Iowa City Councilors were not part of my 42,000!

In all sincerity, I think I had a lot to offer this Commission. I spend more time “in the weeds” of the structure and function of local governments than almost anyone I know. I live this stuff.

But this Council has always been extremely biased toward reassuring the powerful interests in town, and they are not about to appoint a commission that intends upon making any substantive changes.

Despite not getting the Commission nod, I still have several changes I’d like to see. Here are a few of the major items:

1. Iowa City should maintain the size of the Council at seven. Maintain a balance between At-Large councilors and councilors representing Wards. (There should be either three or four Wards; no more, no less.) A directly elected Mayor shall serve in one of the At-Large seats.

Rationale: A Council smaller than seven lacks representation; larger becomes unwieldy. A mix of At-Large and Ward representation balances geographic diversity with the ability to elect the best people regardless of where they live. While the Mayor holds no particular power relative to other councilors, she/he is the face of the city, and should be chosen by the people.

2. Only Ward residents get to vote for candidates running to represent those Wards.

Rationale: Voting in Iowa City has always been too confusing.

3. Eliminate the Council Primary; instead, institute instant run off voting (IRV).

Rationale: How many times have we seen a non-serious candidate gather enough signatures, thus forcing an expensive primary? In addition, with IRV voters could exercise both their heads and their hearts while voting. Often two similar candidates split the vote, handing the election to a candidate that most voters wanted to finish last. IRV allows your vote to be recorded in exactly such a way.

4. Put all city offices on the general election ballots with governor and president. Stagger it so that the Mayor, an At-Large seat, and 2 Ward seats are elected in Presidential years. Then elect 2 At-Large seats and a Ward seat each Gubernatorial year.

Rationale: Turnout in municipal elections is AWFUL. Turnout in Statewide elections is much better. If we want people to vote, this is the way. It would also decrease costs.

5. The Iowa City definition of "qualified" electors flies in the face of Iowa’s Election Day voter registration law. This must be changed to include all eligible voters.

Rationale: I believe this is illegal, and should be challenged in court by the ACLU. It would be easier and nicer if Iowa City simply fixed it.

6. Allow for citizens to petition for elections in which they could hold votes of no confidence in the City Manager, City Attorney and Chief of Police.

Rationale: These positions have a tremendous impact on our civil rights, yet we have virtually zero say in their employment. Right now, to fire a Police Chief, you would need to elect 4 councilors who would vote to fire the City Manager unless he decides to fire the Police Chief. It ain’t gonna happen. So why not allow the public to weigh in? Even if the results were non-binding, the public should be able to weigh in.

7. Petitions should be able to address issues of state and federal law.

Rationale: There is no compelling reason NOT to allow the public to speak its’ mind. Requirements are already high (25% of the turnout of the last election, or 2,500 minimum). If enough eligible electors sign a petition, their issue should be heard. Iowa City may not be able to do much about the issue, but at least the City has not muted the voices of its’ citizens.

8. Increase Council pay to at least $25,000 per year.

Rationale: Under the current system, only two groups of people can really afford to serve and serve well – wealthy folks and/or retired folks. By paying better, we could attract a more diverse set of candidates. This would also allow some workers to go part time and focus more energy on Council business. Councilors who really objected to that level of compensation could always donate the pay to the library, parks, or another worthy cause.

         Those are my thoughts for Iowa City. I promise to share them with the Commission and the Council. What are your thoughts?

*School Weather Cancellations
         I’m sure parents throughout Johnson County are frustrated by the number of late starts and cancelled days this school year. I understand this frustration, but I hope you will cut our Superintendents some slack.

         Deciding to cancel school is a very inexact science. If Superintendents wait too late, parents cannot adjust their plans. If Superintendents act too soon, they run the risk of unnecessarily delaying/cancelling.

         Trust me, Superintendents do not relish this part of their jobs. They want your kids to be safe. Please cut them some slack.

*Bowl For Kids Sake
We are once again Bowling For Kids’ Sake to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County.

         BBBS is a great organization that helps hundreds of children across Johnson County. Please consider making a pledge to this very worthy organization.

         You can donate online by visiting the BBBS website at:  or, just come out and join us at 1:15 on Sunday, March 2nd at Colonial Lanes.

*Shelter House Used Book Sale
Saturday, March 1st 10:30 am - 4:30 pm. (Early Birds can arrive at 10:00 am for a $10 entrance fee.) Also Sunday, March 2nd Noon - 4:00 pm. Both days are held at Iowa City Marketplace (formerly Sycamore Mall) in the old Ben Franklin Store.

There are still plenty of opportunities to donate, sponsor, and volunteer. For more info see:

*DID YOU KNOW?  Most of Iowa’s 99 counties now have at least minimal zoning. One exception is Washington County, which adopted zoning in 2010 and rescinded it in 2013.

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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