Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 12, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     6/16/15

In this edition:

*Congratulations, RJ!
*Pride Events
*Caitlyn Jenner
*Father’s Day
*Public Opinion
*Did You Know?

*Congratulations, RJ!
         RJ Moore is retiring from Johnson County Planning and Zoning after 20 years of county employment.

         It may be bad form to say this, but RJ has always been one of my favorites. There are several reasons for this:

         First, RJ has always been on the front line. As much as any County employee, RJ has been had to endure the slings and arrows of the public. RJ has often been put in the position of being the bad guy – forced to tell people “no”. It is not easy to play that role, especially for 20 years.

         Secondly, I LOVE RJ’s passion! RJ gets excited about good planning, and the excitement is contagious! It is great to work with people who enjoy what they do. I came into the job of Supervisor liking P&Z. I now LOVE P&Z, and I thank RJ for that.

         Thirdly, RJ has a great presentation style. He is really good at explaining our rules, determining how those rules apply, and laying it out in a way people can understand. Those are important skills!

         Finally, I give RJ tremendous credit for overcoming obstacles in his personal life. From growing up in Foster Care to surviving horrors in Viet Nam, RJ has proven himself to be an honest-to-goodness hero. He could have given up many times. But he persevered, earned a Master’s Degree, served as an important cog in local government, and became a great husband and father. He is a fantastic role model for others that have been dealt a difficult hand.

         Congratulations on your retirement, RJ. You are a great guy, and I’ll miss you!

*Pride Events
         The annual IC Pride events run all throughout the month of June. I love the annual Pride Festival, and I marvel at how far we have come. I remember Pride in the early ‘90s, being one of only a few people marching with the Johnson County Democratic Party, and being videotaped for participating. Things have sure changed!

Some upcoming Pride events: Friday night June 19, join us for a laid back evening in Upper City Park with free food till it's gone (over 200 servings). We will be serving sandwiches and sides donated by Chik-Fil-A, desserts by Pizza Pit, and free Frisbees for all from Studio 13. A vegetarian option will also be available.

On Saturday, June 20, the Pride parade is at noon, followed by Pride Fest events on the Ped Mall. Everything is free and open to the public.

*Caitlyn Jenner
         Worldwide hero, to joke, to worldwide hero. That is the trip taken by Bruce – now Caitlyn – Jenner.

         I was a young man when Bruce Jenner won the Olympic Decathlon. The World’s Greatest Athlete, with Iowa connections to boot! He was a hero to many of us.

         Fast forward to the 2000s. Bruce Jenner had become a joke – a reality television buffoon. I felt pity for him. I would explain to my kids that he “used to be” a hero.

         Now, in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner is a hero once again. By going public with her story, Caitlyn is rapidly becoming the role model young transgendered folks need.

         Who says there are no second acts in life? Good luck, Caitlyn. I respect your bravery in this situation even more than I respected your athletic achievements 40 years ago.

*Father’s Day
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! Being a dad is the best thing I have ever done. It is also the most difficult. I imagine that is the case for most fathers.

It has been several years since I have had the pleasure of enjoying a living father or grandfather. If you are lucky enough to have a father or grandfather around, please take a moment to reach out to him this weekend.

*Public Opinion
         Last week, one of my colleagues made an offhanded remark about the court of public opinion. I thought it might be worth discussing exactly what role public opinion plays amongst elected officials.

         Let’s begin with elections. One could call elections big opinion polls. And on some occasions, that would be correct. Every four years, I am on a general election ballot that includes the Presidential election. In Johnson County, we get about 85% turnout for a Presidential election. So it is truly a pretty good gauge of public opinion.

         City Council elections can be a very different matter. In Iowa City, the 2013 Council election had a 22% turnout. 2011 saw 13% turnout. So are those elections good measures of public opinion? Probably not nearly as good as the General election results.

         Should elected officials govern according to public opinion? First you would have to have a good way of measuring it. The guys who have coffee at Hy Vee are happy to share their opinions, but are they representative of our entire County?

         I have certainly seen Supervisors who attempt to make decisions based upon public opinion. Some do it all the time. The public probably doesn’t notice this so much, but you can sometimes get a different result in a Board vote by filing the Boardroom. That has always bothered me.

         Some may claim that elected officials should ALWAYS vote according to public opinion. I disagree with this. I believe many of our greatest achievements as a society (civil rights laws, for example) were never popular enough to win in the court of public opinion. But it was the right thing to do. I firmly believe elected officials should have several subjects over which they are willing to lose an election.

         Personally, I do not make decisions based upon public opinion. That does not mean I do not care what people think. It just means that I have principals that override public opinion.

         What do you think? What role should public opinion have in terms of the way elected officials operate?

*DID YOU KNOW?  Although the Pride Movement did not galvanize until after the Stonewall Riots, there were a handful of gay rights demonstrations prior to 1969. The most direct link to the early parades were called Annual Reminders. Every fourth of July, beginning in 1965, groups would picket Independence Hall in Philadelphia to inform and remind the American people that LGBT people did not enjoy basic civil rights protections. After Stonewall, picketing seemed too pacifistic, and Reminder organizers instead helped plan the first Gay Liberation parades.

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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