Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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October 22, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     10/27/15

In this edition:

*More On The Minimum Wage
*Civility In Local Politics
*Missing W?
*Fall Prevention
*Did You Know?

As many of you know, Melissa and I went on an amazing medical mission to Haiti. Unfortunately, for the first time ever, the upcoming Haiti trip has to be cancelled.

Why? Political unrest. The people of Haiti were promised elections, and the elections have not occurred. So the people are in the streets, demanding their right to vote.

Meanwhile, in Iowa City, we have very important elections coming up. If we get 20% turnout, we will pat ourselves on the backs. 30% would be record setting.

I have already voted. And I dedicate my vote to the friends I made in Haiti, who are risking everything to do what we take for granted. Please vote!

*More On The Minimum Wage
         I continue to get questions on the impact of the minimum wage, and I continue to tell people I believe it will be a good thing for the local economy. But I am already seeing several logical fallacies emerging in the arguments I get from opponents.

Because many folks clearly do not understand the difference between anecdotes and data, I’ll clear it up ahead of time. Let’s begin with this example: Some claim an increase in the wage will cost jobs. There are lots of studies out there that show this is NOT true. (But they will keep repeating the lies.) Here is what will happen:

         The minimum wage has not yet changed. Yet some businesses are closing, while others are opening. The same thing will happen after the minimum wage is increased. It is part of the normal churn of our economy. But THEN opponents will have a bogeyman – they can blame the wage increase! In reality, the anecdote of what happens in one business is just that – an anecdote. We will need to review the whole sample before we know if there was an effect on overall employment. (Again, studies show little effect.)

         Similarly, increased wages result in increased consumer demand, which leads to increased economic activity, which leads to increased hiring. So you’ll probably see ten North Liberty businesses hire two extra people each, and ten businesses hire one person each. Then a business will close, and 15 jobs will be lost. Critics will blame the wage increase. But what critics will not say is that there has been a net increase of 15 new jobs in town. Trust me – this line of attack will be starting soon.

*Civility In Local Politics
         There has recently been another call for greater civility in local politics. This comes around every few years, typically when the powers that be feel threatened.

While civility is a noble goal, I worry that it can be used as a red herring. Those in power have always used “civility” as a cudgel to beat back the opinions of those without such power. Civility can be a guise that stifles unpopular speech.

If the choice is between civility and honesty, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and transparency, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and the poor, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and the homeless, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and the addicted, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and African Americans, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and immigrants, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and LGBTQ rights, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and the elderly, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and historic preservation, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and calling out tax schemes that benefit the rich, I choose the latter.
If the choice is between civility and affordable housing, I choose the latter.

         “Civility” is often in the eye of the beholder. Any challenge to those in power comes across as uncivil. Any questioning of professional staff can be seen as incivility. I mean, how dare you question authority? How dare you demand to be heard? Don’t you know your place?

         Look, I know that I have not always been as civil as I should have been. I know I have work to do in this area. But most of our elected officials are very civil. A lack of civility is not what ails us. The call for greater civility is the wrong diagnosis. For the most part, we have civility. What we lack is real compassion for those who lack power. And given a choice between civility and compassion in my politicians, I will always choose compassion.

*Missing W?
I never thought I would find myself saying this... but I wish George W. Bush would return to the public stage. You see, George W. Bush was always careful to note that Islam is not evil, and that our Muslim brothers and sisters have a place in this country.

Yes, Obama says the exact same thing. But there is a large group of Americans who refuse to give Obama the respect he deserves. W is now out of the spotlight, and our country has really regressed on this issue.

*Fall Prevention
         The Johnson County Livable Community just celebrated Fall Prevention Week with a reminder about their Sure Steps program.

Many people are surprised to learn that falls are the leading cause of death among older Iowans. The Board of Supervisors was recently presented with a whole slew of remarkable statistics regarding falls:

One in three Iowans over 65 fall each year. 3,737 Johnson County seniors will fall this year. 84% of injury-related hospitalizations of seniors are due to falls. The average cost of that hospitalization and the related rehab is $37,000.

         For more info on what you can do to prevent falls, see:

*DID YOU KNOW?  Over 10,000 Johnson County residents will benefit from an increased minimum wage. 56% are female. 42% work full time; 40% work close to full time. 79% are over 20 years old. 20% have an AA degree or higher. (Source: Iowa Policy Project.)

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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