Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 30, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     4/5/16

In this edition:

*Happy Birthday Marie!
*Happy Birthday Jordan!
*Mission Creek Festival
*The Politics of Fear
*School Funding in Iowa
*Education Funding and Economic Development
*Did You Know?

*Happy Birthday Marie!
         The newest member of our clan turns Sweet 16 on April 6th! Happy Birthday, Marie! I love you!

*Happy Birthday Jordan!
         My daughter Jordan turns 22 on April 8th. Jordan is finishing up her track career at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. She will graduate in about a month with a BA in Psychology. More importantly, she is a really good person. Man, am I ever proud! Happy Birthday, Jordan! I love you!

*Mission Creek Festival
         The Mission Creek Festival runs April 5-10 in a variety of venues around Iowa City. Because of the genius that is Englert Theatre Director Andre Perry, this weeklong extravaganza has become an incredible package of art, music, comedy, film, literature, food, technology, and much, much more!

         For tickets and a complete schedule of events, see:

*The Politics of Fear
         A major theme of the 2016 elections is fear. People are uncertain about their economic situations. Acts of terrorism around the globe have the desired effect. One of our two major political parties wants you to be scared, and wants you to vote out of fear.

I recently read a piece by writer and activist Rebecca Solnit that addressed this very well. Solnit feels that average people have a reason to fear power – it does not usually serve them well. She notes that both parties talk about a “world government” that we should fear. On the Right, that is the UN. On the Left, that is the TPP.

         I agree – power does not typically serve average people very well. And I firmly believe that you should fear the TPP! So I am clearly not immune to the politics of fear! I hope the difference is that my fear is rational.

         My favorite President (FDR) famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” President Obama has very clearly adopted this stance. He points out that Americans are about 40,000 TIMES as likely to die at the hands of a gun-toting, white, Christian, American male as they are at the hands of a terrorist. Obama’s message has been pretty clear – “Do not give in to fear.”

         I agree with the President when it comes to terrorism. But I must admit, I am quite concerned about the continuing escalation of the power of multinational corporations.

         So – a bit of fear probably makes sense. Too much fear is paralyzing. What is the answer? I believe we all need to do our best to act courageously. Speak out. Speak truth to power. Stand up for what is right. It is not easy, but it is necessary if we want to live better lives.

*School Funding in Iowa
         Iowa’s latest school funding battle is over for the time being, and Iowa’s children will suffer as a result.

         House and Senate negotiators recently agreed to a 2.25% increase for the 2016-17 academic year. Not only is this woefully inadequate; it is a year late.

         Understand – schools across Iowa needed about 4% just to break even. Now small schools will be forced to consolidate, and larger schools will be laying off teachers, leading to increased class sizes. We have failed the children of this state, and we have failed them badly. It is reprehensible.

         Frankly, I think the latest agreement also points to the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal needs to surrender leadership to a new generation. Gronstal is too powerful, and too enamored of his own ability to cut a deal.

I know some have said the Iowa Senate should just hold out. Simply stay in session, without passing a budget, until our kids get what they need. Shut down Iowa’s government. The argument is simple; f you won’t fight over this issue, what issue IS worth fighting over? That may be the solution. But it is also a pretty big risk. Senate Dems might do a lot of damage to State government, and get nothing in return.

         Is there money available for education in this state? There IS and WAS! Governor Branstad has given away a billion dollars (that is billion with a “B”) in tax breaks over the past 4 years. Most of that went to out of state corporations. He made a choice, and he chose big business over our kids. He should be ashamed!

         A 4% increase in state funding would have cost about $168 million. Branstad handed over almost twice that much to just ONE foreign company (Orascom). How the Hell can he look in a mirror?

         Iowans, you have to vote. And you have to vote for a different direction!

*Education Funding and Economic Development
         In light of Iowa's school funding fiasco, we should also talk about the way in which corporations (the same ones who get the tax breaks) have offloaded the task of training their workforce.

         Workforce training used to be a function of the employers. They hired employees, then trained them. But in our three-decade long race to the bottom, employers quit paying to train workers. They began to push the narrative that worker training was solely the responsibility of the public sector.

         Yet the same corporations who simply handed off the task of worker training refuse to pay the taxes necessary to actually allow the public sector to train our workers.

         To add insult to injury, we are bombarded with the idea that workers would all be earning lots of money if they just got the correct training. Yet American workers grow more productive every year. We keep hearing about a shortage of skilled workers. Whose fault is that?

*DID YOU KNOW?  Since 2006, the Mission Creek Festival has grown into an annual, week-long event featuring hundreds of artists, attracting 10,000 fans while inhabiting countless venues and non-traditional art spaces.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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