Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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July 8, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/12/16

In this edition:

*Stop Shooting Each Other!
*RIP Gene Spaziani
*Solon Beef Days
*ICCSD School Board Thoughts
*Did You Know?

*Stop Shooting Each Other!
         I am distraught as I write this. I don’t know what to say, except please stop shooting each other! Please be kind!

*RIP Gene Spaziani
          I was saddened to learn of the passing of Gene Spaziani of Iowa City. Gene was a renowned Endocrinologist, and accomplished musician, but we knew each other in completely different ways.

         Gene and I shared a deep involvement in both the local Democratic Party and the disability rights movement. Gene not only had a mastery of the facts, but he made his case very passionately. Gene was a dogged activist, who really got involved and really made a difference.

I know Gene was loved by many and will be missed by many. He was definitely an influence on me. RIP, Gene.

*Solon Beef Days
The 45th annual Solon Beef Days runs Friday and Saturday July 15 & 16 in Solon. Steaks, rides, entertainment, a parade, and the now-legendary hay bale toss are just a few of the items on tap.

         I say this every year, and it is because it comes from a place of pride: I can honestly say that I have been to roughly 41 of the 45 Beef Days. I wear it like a badge of honor! This is the year to start your own streak!

         I’ll be marching in the parade Saturday – lineup is at 9 AM just east of the high school. Please join me!

         For all the details, including a full schedule of events, see:

*ICCSD School Board Thoughts
         Like many of you, I have watched the ICCSD boundary discussions. It reminds one of witnessing a car wreck in slow motion. You know it cannot turn out well – and you just hope it is not as bad as you fear. Our community is being torn apart, and we need to put redistricting behind us. Unfortunately, people on both sides of the boundary issues are crying “racism” and pointing at the others.

         The fact of the matter is, none of us is without sin. We are ALL racist to some degree. We are ALL classist to some degree. Yes, there are people who are blatant about it. In some ways, this is easier to address than the subtle racism/classism that is pervasive in our community.

         There are poor African American folks at Kirkwood Elementary who do not want their kids bussed to North Liberty. There are poor African American folks at Kirkwood Elementary who feel it is more important to have a classroom with FRL balance. Some of the folks who feel one way are racists. Some of the folks who feel the other way are racists. But most people are NOT racists. And agreeing with one group or the other does not MAKE a person a racist.

         If we make changes, there are poor African American families who may have difficulties with transportation. And if we do NOT make changes, there ALREADY are poor African American families who have difficulties with transportation.

         Personally, I thought the Board screwed up by failing to address elementary boundaries first. That is where the “walkability” issue is most prevalent; older kids drive; they get rides from other kids; at City, they take pubic transit; and if they ride a bike (very few do) they can ride it further. Plus, elementary schools are smaller; kids spend more years there; etc. But – that ship sailed. The Board chose a different route. Now, some of the folks who are calling for a return to redistricting at the elementary level are the same folks who prevented that effort last year! They look like they want to simply scuttle every possible redistricting scenario. It is all unfortunate, but it is our reality.

         And yes, economic diversity matters! There is a great deal of research that demonstrates poor kids perform better in economically integrated schools. Rich kids, however, do not suffer from economic integration. Try as you might, simply offering more “resources” does NOT get the same results! The data is pretty clear. We really do need to strive toward economic diversity in our schools.

         Does that mean bussing? Bussing is a pretty loaded word. But guess what? We already do a LOT of bussing! How do you think kids get to our secondary schools now? School busses and parents driving, that’s how!

         I may win that argument. I may not. But either way - just decide. Decide, and move on. People are going to be upset; that’s life. Redistricting should not be this hard. It should not be this time consuming. It should not create so much distrust and division in the community. Get this done!

         The ICCSD is facing huge challenges. We must begin to focus on other topics. A recent report stated that Administration at the ICCSD, “hinders teacher’s efforts” and that a “culture of retaliation” exists. This is not OK. And if we can ever get past redistricting, we can move on to addressing it.

         The issue in front of us right now is the election. We need to replace Tom Yates’ unexpired term on the Board. I have a definite favorite in this election.

         I LOVE JP Claussen! That sounds hyperbolic, and perhaps it is. But I have known JP a long time. He taught two of my kids almost 20 years ago at the Broadway Neighborhood Center. I fell in love with him then, and nothing since then has made me think any less of him.

         JP has worked for the past two years as an educator for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is also a former president of the Iowa City Education Association. JP is kind, smart, caring, courageous, hard working, and a great listener. I have never seen him do anything other than stand up for those with less.

         Even if I had not known JP for 20 years, there are a couple key things that recommend him. First, JP is a Democrat. While that is not the only measure of a candidate, it says something meaningful about your belief system. Plus JP is not just any Dem, but a very active Dem. Secondly, JP is a labor guy – endorsed by the IC Federation of Labor. JP earned this, having spent several years on the ICCSD bargaining team representing the teachers. I am a big believer in the value of organized labor.

         There are important issues where JP and I disagree. (See redistricting, above!) But you know what? That is OK! It does not make him a racist, nor does it make me a racist. We simply disagree. And that is OK. There are many more areas where we agree!

         I have spent my whole adult life fighting for those in poverty. I have spent that whole time as an ally of my African American friends. I have talked it, and I have walked it. Frankly, I am tired of people who have never “walked it” telling me I HAVE to vote a certain way or the poor will be negatively affected.

         Really? Where have you been? I’ve been at the meetings, the protests, and the rest. Where were you? Has the well being of all poor people and people of color been central to every vote you have taken? Are you holding yourself to the same standard you are holding me?

         I am a warrior in the fight for the poor. I am an ally in the fight for equality for people of color. And I refuse to apologize for voting for JP Claussen. He is a good man.

         This is no knock on any other candidate. I simply love and respect JP. I will be voting for JP Claussen, and I hope you do, too.

*DID YOU KNOW?  The ICCSD Board election is July 19, but early voting is available now at the Auditor’s Office. For other voting opportunities, check out the Auditor’s website.

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

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