Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 11, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     2/16/16

In this edition:

*Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad
*Supervisor Langston to Retire
*City Fed Chili Supper
*Real Economic Development
*Did You Know?

*Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad
         I am pretty frustrated by the post caucus machinations of the members of the Iowa Democratic Party. If I were in charge, the messages would be:

         Clinton Campaign: “We won a hard fought battle! It was close, but a win is a win!”

         Sanders Campaign: “We started 60 points behind one of the most well known public figures on planet Earth, and we ended up in a virtual tie. That is a win!”

         Iowa Democratic Party: “We had three great candidates, registered lots of new voters, and the process worked. That is a win!”

         But no. We cannot let it go. We cannot take a win and walk away. We are going to fight until this ends up lose-lose-lose. Congratulations! Your self-righteousness is putting an end to the Iowa Caucuses!

*Supervisor Langston to Retire
         Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston recently announced that she will not be seeking reelection. This is a pretty big deal; please allow me to explain.

         Supervisor Langston has not only served Linn County well, but rose through the ranks to serve as the Chair of the National Association of Counties (NACo). NACo consists of just over 3000 US counties, from the 12 million people in Los Angeles County, California to the 200 in Loving County, Texas. This is the most prestigious position one can hold in county government – and you are elected by your peers. Linda did this job exceedingly well!

         I have had the opportunity to work with Linda on many things over the years. She is smart, energetic, and absolutely works her tail off. Linda is a wonderful person, a great Supervisor, and a good friend. I’ll miss her, and so will Linn County!

*City Fed Chili Supper
         The Iowa City Federation of Labor annual Chili Supper is Thursday, February 18, at 6:00 pm at the City Fed Office, 940 S. Gilbert Court in Iowa City.

Join us for an evening of fun, friendship and food as we celebrate the contributions of working women and men in our community. The event is open to all Union members and friends of Labor. If you can, please bring a dish to share (optional). We will all enjoy Good Food, Good People, and Good Music.

In addition, this month the Crisis Center is running their Spread the Love campaign. Bring a jar of peanut butter and jelly to the supper to help the children of our great community. Or you can make a cash donation; either way you will provide a much-needed source of protein to those in need.

For more information contact City Fed President Patrick Wallace at 319-325-0260

*Real Economic Development!
         This appeared in Salvos last year, but it bears repeating as we enter tax season.

*What if I told you we could bring in 50 full-time jobs that would pay $15 per hour?

         *What if I told you these jobs could neither be outsourced overseas nor subcontracted?

*What if I told you those jobs would be filled by hard-working low-income people, all of whom are local?

*What if I told you NO bribery (aka “tax incentives”) would be required to land these jobs?

*What if I told you there were no special workforce training programs required?

*What if I told you virtually ALL of the money earned would be spent locally?

         What would happen? Well, the Chamber of Commerce would put it in their newsletter, and the Ambassadors would do a ribbon cutting. Debi Durham would come over from Des Moines and do a big press event, and the Governor just might join her. ICAD would tweet this success to the world. Mayors would grab gold shovels and pose for a photo. You might get a visit from a US Senator. The Press Citizen and Gazette would both do front page stories. The Corridor Business Journal would write a nice editorial. The region would be hailed for its forward thinking, and folks would talk far and wide about how well we do economic development.

         So what if I told you the exact equivalent has already occurred? It has.

         Several years ago, I went to a National Association of Counties (NACo) conference and learned about a program that had started in Cook County, Illinois.

         As it turns out, a huge number of low-income workers leave money on the table when it comes to the federal income tax system, particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Cook County created a series of free tax clinics to ensure this money returned to their county.

         I did some investigating, and it just so happened that Johnson County had the same problem, though obviously on a much smaller scale.

         So I pushed for Johnson County to begin a free tax help program. It struck me that we had a potential partner in the Tippe College of Business, and as luck would have it, I could not have had better timing. Dr. Joyce Berg was ready to greatly expand the work her student tax preparers would do. It was a perfect fit.

         Former Supervisor (and current Legislator) Sally Stutsman was very supportive. Amy Correia had just been hired as Johnson County’s first Social Services Director, and Amy took the ball and ran with it, including securing grants to cover all operating costs. The Tippe College, ICCSD, United Way, Iowa City Public Library, and many others have become valued partners. In recent years, current Social Services Director Lynette Jacoby has maintained and improved upon all this success.

         What are the results? The Free Tax Help Program brings over $1.6 million into the local economy every year. It goes to low-income local workers, who spend it locally. And it uses no local tax dollars.

         Remember when I said “50 full-time jobs at $15 per hour”? That adds up to a $1.5 million annual impact, less than the Free Tax Help Program. But the Free Tax Help Program is actually even better, because it serves over 1,100 Johnson County tax filers and their families!

         Economic Development can take many forms. I happen to believe the Free Tax Help program has contributed a lot of good things to the local economy. We have not had any fancy groundbreakings or ribbon cuttings, but we have accomplished something!

         The Corridor Business Journal spends a few hundred words every other issue badmouthing the Board of Supervisors; I wonder if they will honor us for this economic development? I’m not holding my breath!

         So if you know Lynette Jacoby, thank Lynette Jacoby. She has done great work! If you know Joyce Berg, thank Joyce Berg. Her students have given much more back to this community than they could ever take.

*DID YOU KNOW?  2016 is a leap year, meaning February has an extra (29th) day.

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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