Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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May 29, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     6/3/14

In this edition:

*Election Day!
*Pride Proclamation Drama
*Arts Fest
*Local Government Class
*Affordable Housing
*Farmer’s Markets
*Did You Know?

*Election Day!
         Tuesday, June 3rd is Election Day in Johnson County! I hope you will get out and vote!

         If you are a Republican, you have primaries for US Senate, US House, Governor, and State Senate District 39 (western Johnson County). Those are some very important decisions! It is quite rare to have all those items on a single primary ballot!

         If you are a Democrat, there is the same State Senate District 39 race, plus House District 73 (Solon area) and high profile races for County Attorney and County Supervisor.

         If you are not a member of either party, you have two choices: register as one party or the other and vote, or wait until November. That is a decision you have to make.

         Whatever your political leanings, I hope you will participate in the electoral process. To find out where you vote, contact the Johnson County Auditor’s Office at 356-6004.

*Pride Proclamation Drama
The Board of Supervisors often passes proclamations. You have probably seen it – we honor National Adoption Month or Bike to Work Week. The Board Chair reads a proclamation, presents it to a citizen or group of citizens, and they get a couple minutes to talk about their cause. Good clean fun, right?

These aren’t usually controversial; I can only recall one “no” vote on a proclamation until very recently. But since the election of Supervisor John Etheredge, proclamations have become controversial.

This was the case once again at our May 29th meeting, when Supervisor Etheredge voted against a proclamation honoring June as Pride Month in Johnson County. (The measure passed 4-1.) John stated that this was not because of the “Pride”, but because of the “Month” – he felt a month was too long.

Where to begin?  First, I don’t really understand how it being “too long” matters. It is not as though the County puts more resources into declaring Pride Month than we would Pride Day. The whole thing is 15 minutes of work, either way. This argument seems like a red herring to me.

Secondly, John has voted FOR month long recognitions previously: National Adoption Month and County Government Month, just to name two. Where was this concern then? There is simply no way to view this as anything other than hypocrisy.

The person who came to accept the proclamation on behalf of the Pride Committee was a trooper. (I did not get permission to use her name, so I’m leaving her anonymous for the purpose of this story.) She told John that she respected his right to hold his opinion. Then she teared up, recalling some of the times in her past when she was bullied.

It was so sad. This was to be a celebration of Johnson County as a place open to diversity. It was an opportunity to thank the Pride Committee for all their work; more importantly, it was an opportunity to tell a big group of our citizens that we love them and care about them. Instead, we made the recipient of the proclamation feel lousy – on a day we were supposed to make her feel good. It was the governmental equivalent of bullying.

I like Supervisor Etheredge. He has always been kind to me. I consider him a friend. But this was a crappy move. Johnson County is better than this.

*Arts Fest
         One of the best things about living in Johnson County is the Summer of the Arts (SOTA). This organization brings SO much life to our cities – I really appreciate the folks who run this organization!

         SOTA kicks off the summer season with the Iowa Arts Festival, June 6-8 in downtown Iowa City. I hope you can make it to this and other SOTA events.

For more info, visit:

*Local Government Class
         I recently had the honor of joining City High teacher Carrie Watson for a couple of sections of her State and Local Government class.

         Iowa City Councilor Kingsley Botchway and I were peppered by questions from the kids, and we had some great discussions.

         I simply love doing this type of thing! Thanks to Ms. Watson for allowing us to join her class!

*Affordable Housing
         The City High students asked a very important question – “What is the biggest issue you face in Iowa City and Johnson County?”

         Kingsley and I both agreed that the biggest issue is affordable housing. It is pretty much impossible to make it in Johnson County on $8 per hour; even at $20/hour, a person is one mishap away from losing everything. We have a crisis, and it is getting worse.

“What is the biggest issue you face in Iowa City and Johnson County?” It is a simple question. Yet elected bodies rarely ask it of themselves! Isn’t it ironic? The kids get it, but we do not. If it is your biggest issue, shouldn’t you be doing more to address it?

*Farmer’s Markets
         The Farmer’s Market season has begun. I have probably said it before, but I’ll say it again – I am an avid fan of farmer’s markets!

         I urge you to go to your local market. Hang out. Buy some veggies, but buy a treat, too. Talk to the farmers. Listen to music. It is absolutely wonderful!

         I have great respect for Jim Throgmorton, and I consider him a friend. I also know that he is frustrated in his role as a member of the Iowa City Council.

         Jim contacted me about last week’s edition of Salvos, and requested that I clear something up. He wrote:

Might you be willing to submit a clarification to your statement that, "The City of Iowa City recently sent a letter to the ICCSD Board requesting that the ICCSD consider “walkability” as part of their criteria for redistricting."

"The City" did not send a letter requesting the School Board to insert a "walkability clause" into the Diversity Policy. The idea of sending a letter came out of an informal meeting of the P&Z Commission and a memo submitted to the Council by the Chair of the commission. There was some misunderstanding about what was agreed during that meeting. While one might legitimately disagree with the IC City Council's actions concerning affordable housing, the Council explicitly decided not, not, to prescribe what the ICCSD should do.”

         Notice how we are back to the issue of affordable housing policy? It is important, folks! Thanks for the clarification, Jim. More importantly, thanks for all your good work!

*DID YOU KNOW?  Democratic Primaries for the office of County Attorney used to be rare occurrences. Incumbent Janet Lyness has been part of two – this year, and when she first ran for office in 2006. Before that, the last contested Democratic Party County Attorney Primary was 1978.

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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