Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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November 21, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     11/25/14

In this edition:

*Happy Thanksgiving!
*Keystone XL Pipeline
*Budget Discussions
*City Fed Game Night
*Did You Know?

*Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to all Salvos readers! I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

         I love Thanksgiving! It truly is one of my top couple holidays! That is likely in large part due to the fact that I have many things for which I am thankful. Family, friends, health, relative wealth… I am a pretty lucky guy!

One thing that I do not acknowledge enough, however, is the Salvos audience! I really appreciate the fact that you take the time to hear what I have to say. It is humbling, and I truly am honored to have this soapbox.

         So thanks for reading, and have a great holiday!

*Keystone XL Pipeline
         After a long delay, there is a politically charged rush to decide the fate of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

         For those of you with your heads buried in the tar sands (hee hee!) – the Keystone XL pipeline is proposed to bring “heavy oil” from Western Canada, through much of the US, to be sold overseas.

         Proponents claim this will create jobs, serve as a huge economic boost, and increase safety. Opponents dispute the jobs numbers, and fear environmental disaster.

I have to say, I am in pretty strong agreement with President Obama’s comments: both sides are dramatically exaggerating the impacts of this project.

         Before I go any further down this path, a couple of caveats: First, I oppose the pipeline. Second, I consider my Member of Congress a friend. Thirdly, I found an excellent article in the Kalamazoo Gazette and took from it liberally. Just wanted to get those three things on the record.

         Arguments from pipeline advocates are well summed up by Republican congressman Fred Upton, who told the Kalamazoo Gazette "It's tens of thousands of jobs.” And, he said, "It's better for the planet."

On the latter point, Upton argues the Canadians will develop their oil fields regardless of whether the United States approves a pipeline from the Canadian border to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Based on that assumption, Upton says it's much, much better from a safety and environmental standpoint to convey the oil in a pipeline versus shipping via rail or trucks.

It's also better, he said, to "refine it here, in this country, where there is the best refinery regulations on the planet," said Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Increasing the oil we get from Canada also reduces our dependence on buying oil from countries such as Nigeria and Venezuela, where the politics are precarious, the regulations are lower and the distance much farther. "Our carbon footprint is less" when we purchase oil closer to home, Upton said. In addition, a recent study released by the State Department says it is unlikely that the Keystone XL project will alter global greenhouse gas totals either way.

It is fair to note that Congressman Upton’s environmental concerns seem to have only recently been ignited. His record is lousy. So take that for what it is worth.

On the other side of the equation, the tar sands lie beneath amazing boreal forests in Alberta, which end up getting strip-mined. The injections that are required poison groundwater. There are alternative sources of energy (such as wind and solar) that deserve greater emphasis. Continuing to use more oil will lead to more global climate change. Property owners in the US lose access to their own property, and become at risk for spills/leaks.

Jobs? It is safe to say that there will be thousands of workers required to build the pipeline. But that process is actually pretty quick. After a couple years, the entire length of the pipeline will have less people working for it than the average convenience store. So both sides have legitimate arguments on the jobs front.

         The US has over 2.5 million miles of pipeline – some of that right here in Johnson County. So why is this specific pipeline such a big deal?

Keystone XL is a big deal because WE decided it was a big deal. A line was drawn in the sand. And that is OK. Just understand, when we draw a line in the sand, sometimes it gets crossed. It does not mean it was wrong for environmentalists to choose this battle, but some battles we lose.

         I have seen all the online Tweets and Facebook comments in which people have claimed that Congressman Loebsack is a “traitor”, and that they “will never vote for him again.” Obviously, folks have a right to post whatever they want. They have a right to vote however they want. I simply don’t see this as a make or break vote. Others do, and that is OK.

         I would simply urge folks who care about these issues to consider what voting against a Democratic Congressman actually means. Are you going to vote for a Republican whose environmental views are even further away from your own?

         If you are an environmentalist and feel you must take action, run in the Democratic Primary. Make your case. Or find someone else to run in the primary, and support her. It is your right. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

*Budget Discussions
         Johnson County begins budget discussions in earnest following the Thanksgiving holiday.

         We will be working on the FY16 budget… Iowa’s counties use a July 1-June 30 fiscal year, so the budget we will be discussing begins July 1 of 2015. It is actually the FY16 budget, however – the budget year refers to the calendar year in which the budget ends.

The FY16 budget is due to the State by March 15, but due to requirements for publishing, public hearings, etc. the process needs to be completed by early February.

         So, do you have thoughts as to how Johnson County should be spending money? If so, now is the time to communicate those thoughts!

*City Fed Game Night
The Iowa City Federation of Labor will host a game night on Tuesday, December 9, 6-10 pm at the Union Hall, 940 S. Gilbert Court in Iowa City. We share this space with the Center for Worker Justice, whose Director has been consulted and given her OK.

The Union Hall is primarily a place for serious business, but traditionally such halls also serve members and their families for more social purposes. So let's have some fun! There will be cards, scrabble, and chessboards on hand. If there's interest, a hoard of Lego can be provided for kids. You can also bring your own favorite game.

This is a trial run, subject to tweaking, mostly by those who show up. We may continue on the 2nd Tuesdays in 2015, or find another time that works better. Your input and participation are very welcome. Please help spread the word.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Lobster, venison, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.

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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