Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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July 25, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/29/14

In this edition:

*Happy Anniversary, Melissa!
*Community Health Initiatives (Haiti)
*Swisher Fun Days
*TIF For The Chauncey
*Homeless Children’s Trust
*Did You Know?

*Happy Anniversary, Melissa!
         August 1st is a very important day in my life – it marks the anniversary of my marriage to Dr. Melissa Fath.

         Life is full of ups and downs. It can be a rough ride. I cannot imagine what it would be like without such a beautiful, smart, tough, funny, loving and committed partner.

I could blather on here, but I’ll cut to the chase: I am a VERY lucky man! Happy anniversary, Honey. I love you!

*Community Health Initiatives (Haiti)
As many of you know, Melissa and I went to Haiti in April with a group called Community Health Initiatives (CHI). The work this group is doing is beyond description here. So we want to continue to help.

With that in mind, we would like to invite you all to this fundraiser. It just so happens that it is our anniversary the day before, so we would love to spend the night with old friends and CHI friends, all helping a great cause!

We'd be honored if you would join us! Details are below; you can buy tickets at Feel free to call Melissa or I with questions.

Saturday, August 2nd 6:00-10:00P (Dinner served at 6:30P)
2nd Floor Hotel Vetro.

Dinner, live music, silent auction and cash bar. $50 investment per ticket ($20 is tax deductible). Open to the public. Formal attire suggested.

*Swisher Fun Days
         Fun Days in Swisher runs Friday, August 1st and Saturday, August 2nd. If you have never visited Johnson County’s northwest corner, give it a try!

I have been attending Fun Days since the late ’80s, and this looks like the most full schedule of events they have ever had!

See for yourself at:

*TIF For The Chauncey
How much "public good" does $15,000,000 buy? Apparently not what it used to!

In case you have not heard, Iowa City is voting on a $15,000,000 Tax Increment Financing project (TIF) for Marc Moen, developer of The Chauncey. The Chauncey is the 15-story tower proposed for the old John Wilson Sports lot at the corner of College and Gilbert Streets.

As you might guess, I am opposed to this TIF. I know what you are thinking… he’s opposed to ALL TIFs! Not true. Let me be clear - I'm not opposed to TIF in every case. I simply believe the public needs to reap very clear and significant benefits from any TIF project. I think the bar has been set SO low when it comes to "public benefit" as to not even matter.

$15,000,000 could go a long way toward solving our affordable housing problem. It could re-do 15 miles worth of city streets. It could buy all the city's police vehicles for about 50 years, or all the fire vehicles for 40. It would cover the whole Park and Rec budget for several years. Want tax base? For $15 million, the city could buy a small industrial operation and move it to the industrial park. Or, if you simply prefer lower taxes - well, $15,000,000 goes a long way.

So can someone please explain to me the $15,000,000 worth of "public good" we are supposed to receive from The Chauncey?

I have heard people argue that Iowa City needs greater density in our urban core. I agree. Building up rather than out makes sense. But at what cost? I don't think it is worth what we are paying.
I have also heard people argue that he couldn’t make the financing work for a 15-story building without TIF. OK. That leads to two follow-ups from me:

First, so what? Build a ten-story building, then. Be it a business or home, the rest of the world builds what they can afford. (Or they SHOULD, anyway!)

Secondly, think about this loan. Hills, Midwest One, UICCU... they won't make the loan on the prescribed terms. So why should IC? In purely financial terms - what is the payback on this $15 million dollar loan? Where is the public benefit?

Understand - I'm not critical of Mr. Moen. His job is to do the best he can for himself. My criticism is directed at the Iowa City Council. It is their job to protect and promote the public interest. This deal fails MISERABLY when viewed through that lens.

There are many, many good developers and builders who wanted that site. Given that, why is this costing the city ANYTHING? Why not hold out and get a better deal?

         Unfortunately, this Iowa City Council has routinely chosen to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. This vote will go the same way – guaranteed.

         Is there anything you can do? Yes. You can recruit good candidates for City Council, support their campaigns, and turn out the vote. Otherwise, don’t expect anything to change.

         People raved about the turnout in the past City election. HA! While the numbers were bigger than normal, turnout was 22%. That is pathetic! One out of every 5 registered voters actually voted. We simply MUST do better, or we will continue to get the same results.

*Homeless Children’s Trust
The Back to School Collection Drive was a great success last year and we were able to provide backpacks of school supplies as well as socks and underwear for 114 needy youngsters in the Johnson County area.

This year the drive will start on Monday July 21 and run through August 11. The Homeless Children's Trust is a part of HACAP (Hawkeye Area Community Action Program) and is funded completely by private donations and staffed by volunteers from the community. HACAP provides Head Start classrooms for 260 children, 52 transitional housing units, LiHeap service (heating assistance), employment counseling and other programs in Johnson County. Any donations received in Johnson County are used to help families in Johnson County.

Counselors from HACAP, The Domestic Violence Intervention Program, MECCA and the Shelter House will designate the children receiving backpacks. We should also have enough supplies left over to make up additional backpacks for these groups to have on hand for new arrivals.

This year we will pack the backpacks on Wednesday, August 13 at 1:00pm at The HACAP Family Resource Center at 367 Southgate.

If you are interested in donating, make checks out to the Homeless Children's Trust and mail to the address above. Any questions call Mary Larew at 337-2264 or 338-1212.

*DID YOU KNOW?  212 of the 250 poorest counties in the US are rural. (Source: National Association of Counties.)

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.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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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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