Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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May 22, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     5/26/15

In this edition:

*Bernie Sanders in Iowa City
*Juvenile Justice Youth Development
*Public Health Survey
*”Knowing What We Know Now”
*Did You Know?

*Bernie Sanders in Iowa City
         Vermont Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders will be making an appearance in Iowa City!

         Senator Sanders will appear at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City on Saturday, May 30 at 10 AM. The event is free and open to the public, but seating will be limited.

         I am going to have the honor of introducing Senator Sanders. I am excited to hear what he has to say! I hope you are, too!

         The Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Office have had some discussions recently about the use of cameras. Some have advocated for speed cameras. Some Sups have advocated for cameras that monitor the Admin Building. Some want new cameras in the Courthouse and Jail. We have cameras that monitor ballots. We have dashboard cameras in squad cars, and cameras in SEATS busses. Personally, I am excited about the proposition of body cameras on our officers.

         So is one use of cameras good, and all others bad? That seems to be the opinion of some folks, but I tend to disagree. In each case, people out in the public are being filmed. One may argue that this is all good or all bad, but I fail to see how one set of cameras is morally superior to another. Everybody hates having the camera on them, and everybody loves the camera when it catches the person who harmed them. As a public, and often as individuals, we are pretty inconsistent in our feelings on surveillance.

         In my mind, the key to all of this is good policies. We need to take feedback from experts, users, privacy advocates, unions, the public, etc. and incorporate that feedback into our policies. And we need to be willing to revisit the policies if something is not working.

         Trust me, coming up with policies will not be easy. Say an officer gets video of a man sexually abusing a woman. Is that video now public record? Does the victim get any say?

         What if an officer does not turn the camera on? Should she be disciplined? How long must video be maintained? Who gets access to review it? Can it be copied? Who gets to edit it? And how much will all this cost? All these questions deserve careful consideration.

         Now is the time. Some cameras are already in use. Others are on the way. Let’s get this right.

*Juvenile Justice Youth Development
         Johnson County has a long tradition of supporting Juvenile Justice and Youth Development (JJYD). It all began roughly 20 years ago when Jim Swaim, then the Director of UAY, secured a large federal grant that required a local match of $200,000. Johnson County set up an advisory group, and provided the match for the duration of the grant. The federal money disappeared about ten years ago, but the advisory group lives on, and Johnson County has continued to provide $200,000 annually toward JJYD programming.

         I happen to believe this $200,000 investment makes a lot of sense. If a child ends up in detention services, the county is on the hook for about $275 per day. I would much rather spend money attempting to prevent a child from getting to detention.

         Additionally, there is quite a bit of evidence that shows these investments work. Johnson County has much lower rates of detention use than other counties our size, and juvenile crime rates are better as well. I believe at least part of this is our JJYD investment.

         Recently, local child service providers, community members, County staff, and County Supervisors came together to discuss the ways in which this $200,000 ought to be spent. Obviously, reasonable people can disagree.

         I just hope that we choose to go down a path that values the input of child service providers. These folks are our partners. They are also experts. If we need to make a decision on a car, we tend to ask mechanics for advice. If we need to make a decision on our health, we go to a doctor for advice. Legal question? Consult a lawyer. I would like to see our partner child service agencies viewed as possessing this same level of expertise. Because they do.

         Does this mean I feel we should do whatever the child service providers want? Of course not. Our job is to provide oversight, and I’ll do that. But I think it would be a huge mistake to ignore the expertise available in our community. These folks care deeply for our children – I want to know what they think!

         Most importantly, I am extremely pleased that we decided to not only maintain but increase the $200,000 commitment going forward. As Supervisor Rettig pointed out, we can demonstrate that the program is saving money. Why not roll some of those savings into a larger investment? I think JJYD has been a positive investment on your behalf, and I think a larger investment will be even better.

*Public Health Survey
         Johnson County Public Health is involved in a Community Health Needs Assessment. This information will be used to help Johnson County Public Health to identify and address the health needs of our community.

         Please take a moment to fill out the online questionnaire, and please feel free to forward it to others. The link is below:

*”Knowing What We Know Now”
         As GOP Presidential candidates discuss the Iraq War, we continue to hear the phrase, “Knowing what we know now…”

         Let me be clear – a LOT of us – MILLIONS of us – knew the Iraq War was a bad idea AT THAT TIME. There is no need for revisionist history. Many, many people disagreed with President Bush at that time, including President Obama.

         We should have NEVER gone into Iraq. And we knew that at the time. GOP Presidential candidates will never acknowledge this fact, but those of us who opposed the war were right.

*DID YOU KNOW?  The first elected office Bernie Sanders held was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Sanders won that first race by ten votes.

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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