Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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April 9, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     4/14/15

In this edition:

*Bad News…
*Community ID
*Your Vision?
*Personalities and Politics
*Did You Know?

*Bad News…
My wife Melissa recently received some bad news. She has invasive ductal carcinoma, otherwise known as breast cancer.
She started chemotherapy on Tuesday, April 7. It will go on for about 18 weeks, after which time she will have surgery and radiation.

Ironically, Melissa studies breast cancer. This is highly treatable and the prognosis is pretty good, but she is facing a difficult road ahead. So please keep her in your prayers, and don't forget to do self breast exams! Sometimes you actually find something!

*Community ID
         Johnson County is preparing to roll out a Community ID program. I am excited about this, and I want to take a little time to explain why I believe this is a good thing for our community.

         First, a bit of history – the impetus for this came from the Center for Worker Justice (CWJ), a remarkable local organization dedicated to securing fair treatment for immigrant workers.

         Like every other organization that has ever existed in Johnson County, the CWJ thought they should start with Iowa City and Coralville. Soon they realized that working with Johnson County might be a better avenue for getting this done.

         A committee was formed, consisting of CWJ members, local labor leaders, and three Johnson County officials: Recorder Kim Painter, Auditor Travis Weipert, and County Attorney Janet Lyness. These folks have moved the process forward to where we are today.

We also have an ace in the hole when it comes to going through this process. UI Law Professor Stella Burch Elias specializes in Immigration Law. More importantly, she was centrally involved in the successful effort to create a Community ID in New Haven, Connecticut. Having her involved ensures that Johnson County follows applicable federal laws, and prevents us from reinventing the wheel.

         The ID itself will be a laminated card with a holographic image applied, the same size as a driver’s license. The cost to get an ID will be $5 or $10.

         Because there are already 700 people who have signed forms requesting IDs, we will need to determine a process for getting the first wave their IDs. This will likely be a weekend effort, utilize existing County staff. After the initial group of 700, we expect the ongoing numbers to be more like 5-10 IDs per month. Given that, we expect people to simply be able to call the Board of Supervisors Office to schedule an appointment to get their IDs. We may work with local libraries to arrange some weekend hours.

         Why do we need a Community ID? I have a very personal story. After years of doing nothing, a few years ago, the Board of Supervisors finally began taking action against the criminals that own Regency Mobile Home Park. State law severely limits the ability of the Board to intervene, but there were dozens of credible reports of fraud coming from Regency.

         Johnson County detectives swooped in, gathered all the info they could, and began following up on leads. Then they ran into a stone wall. Most of the people they needed to speak with refused to talk to them. These folks saw law enforcement coming, and they went the other way – even when they were innocent victims!

         I spoke at length with the lead detective on the case, and he said that this avoidance of law enforcement was common. When I asked why, he said it all came back to a lack of ID.

         This illustrates the number one reason for instituting a Community ID – public safety. We need victims and witnesses to come forward in order to solve crimes and see to it that justice is served. The Community ID will help with this.

         There are many additional benefits: immigrants can open bank accounts and cash checks; cardholders can access municipal services such as the library, rec centers, etc.; it can serve as a second ID for employment purposes; it can serve as an ID for local schools; the list goes on and on.

         The Community ID will be available to anyone who can provide the proper documentation. The bar will not be as high as an Iowa Driver ID, but there will be protections to ensure that the person is who they claim to be.

         Johnson County is home to thousands of immigrants. China, India, Korea, Mexico, Sudan, Senegal, Honduras… the people of Johnson County are increasingly diverse. We need to do a better job welcoming these folks to our community. They are our future!

*Your Vision?
         What are you for? What is your vision? Those seem like simple questions, right? And they are very basic questions for any elected official. Why else would one run for office?

         So - how many of your local elected officials could answer those questions? My guess is precious few. Why is that? Simple! Because we fail to hold our local elected officials accountable.

         That is it. I have no silver bullet; I have no pithy observation. We are simply failing as citizens.

*Personalities and Politics
         One of my biggest pet peeves is when people conflate personality traits with politics.

         Yes, there are several studies out there that attempt to figure out what makes one person a liberal and another conservative. Liberals are maternalistic, while conservatives are paternalistic. Conservatives have a “negativity bias” that leads them to seek certainty. While these studies are fascinating, I think we must be careful as we move down this path.

         Over the years, less and less people want to be identified as “liberal”. That is because some on the right have so savaged the term. But what does being liberal really mean?

         A quick Google search provided the following definition: “Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.”

         That doesn’t sound so bad. I can also see many of my conservative friends taking issue with the definition. They would argue that conservatives also fit that definition – it is simply a matter of degree.

I know that I personify several of the traits considered conservative. I love loyalty and tradition. And ask my wife – it is almost impossible to get me to spend money on clothes or household items. I use things until they require duct tape, then use them some more. Yet I would not consider myself a conservative.

As comedian Steven Colbert left the air, I heard a number of people make comments such as, “Conservatives are humorless”, and “The Right can’t take a joke.” I disagree. First, while Colbert definitely savaged conservatives, a third or more of his material attacked liberals. There were plenty of jokes at the expense of each side. Secondly, I know from my own experiences – a couple of the funniest people I know are conservative. Humor knows no ideological bounds.

Our next-door neighbors are very conservative. And we love them! While we have our disagreements, both households go to church. Both work hard. Both give generously. Both laugh. Both cry. We are all just people.

         I have known conservatives who were liars, cheats, and thieves. I have known liberals who were liars, cheats, and thieves. Political differences never came into play.

I get angry when one group tries to tar the other group with generalities. For example, you hear liberals talk about conservatives, saying they are humorless, uncaring, and hawkish. On the other hand, you hear conservatives claim that liberals are lazy, weak, and immoral. Generalizations like this are almost never true when applied to a large group.

Most importantly, these are the kinds of statements that serve to unnecessarily divide us. We need more “us”, and less “them”. Let’s work on that.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Johnson County is home to over 14,000 foreign born residents. (Source: US Census Bureau.)

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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