Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


August 19, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     8/23/16

In this edition:

*Minimum Wage Anniversary
*Rose Oaks
*Iowa City Beacon
*Did You Know?

*Minimum Wage Anniversary
         This week is the one-year anniversary of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors voting to raise the minimum wage in Johnson County. (The wage actually went up by $.95 on November 1, 2015 and again by $.95 on May 1, 2016. It is due to go up to $10.10 on January 1, 2017.)

         While the impacts of our efforts are still being judged, clearly the sky has not fallen! Many, many low-income people report living better lives. I remain very proud of this vote!

*Rose Oaks
         You may have seen that the Iowa City Council recently voted 5-2 to compensate the displaced residents of Rose Oaks (formerly Lakeside). The total amount is small; much less than is typically granted to projects that claim to be “economic development”.

         The two Councilors who opposed the payments claimed they were concerned with the process that was used.

         Here is the deal: opposing the payments because of the “process” is ONLY legitimate if you THEN work to improve that process. Otherwise, it is just a convenient excuse.

         So, I sincerely hope the two Councilors who opposed providing relief to the displaced residents of Rose Oaks (Councilors Dickens and Mims) lead the charge in getting Iowa City to adopt a displaced residents ordinance!

         A Displaced Residents Ordinance would be very simple: any redevelopment proposal that requires anything from the City (rezoning, TIF, etc.) MUST provide for the relocation of any displaced residents. Period.

         This is not that hard. The city could demand a draft from staff in a month, and get it passed in under 90 days. And EVERY city should adopt a similar ordinance, not just Iowa City!

         More of these situations are on the way. Why wait until another crisis? Let’s be proactive, and get an ordinance passed!

         There are two positives to this approach: First, residents get fair compensation. Secondly, developers pay rather than taxpayers. I mean, why should YOU compensate the displaced Rose Oaks tenants? Why wouldn’t we require the people that CAUSE the problem to repair it?

         So, Councilors Dickens and Mims – here is your policy. Let’s get it done!

*Iowa City Beacon
         There is a new website out there called the Iowa City Beacon, which claims as its mission: “to foster a dialogue about local issues from a pragmatic, socially conscious perspective. In other words, a perspective recognizing it’s possible for our communities to grow while protecting our neighborhoods, believing that good government should be progressive and financially prudent, and wanting both a strong tax base and a high level of city and county services. It’s a perspective focused on the long view of developing thriving communities.”

They already have the Corridor Business Journal; I guess they felt they needed more media help!

Seriously, let me begin by saying the contributors to Beacon are not all cut from the same cloth. So please understand that these comments apply to some and not all members of the group. Heck, I agree with some of the points they make. But that is not what this is about!

         I posted a couple responses that showed up on their blog; I also had a couple responses disappear into thin air. It will be interesting to see if they ever show up. They are talking about open discussion, but my posts seem to be gone forever.

         Anyway, the whole premise of the site is setting up and tearing down a straw man. I have never heard anyone say they wanted local governments to spend too much, or destroy neighborhoods, or to have a weak tax base, or to provide less services. No elected official wants that. They are running against a ghost.

The whole thing is a red herring. It is code for, “We are privileged. We have lost the last few elections, and as privileged people, we do not like that! We want our city and county back!”

         Many of these folks are pissed that their ideas fall to the right of the mainstream of the local Democratic Party. There is nothing wrong with that, per se – the Democratic Party is a big tent. The real problem is that because their viewpoint is a minority, they do not get to run things. That is the real issue!

         A recent post on their blog said it very well… they want more “normal voters” to vote in local elections. What does “normal” mean? My guess is wealthy, straight white males without disabilities.

         It is ironic, too… I just wrote about this last week. The local Democratic Party has had several meetings, a few fundraisers, a few parades, and the County Fair over the past 8 weeks, and these folks are nowhere to be found. Wanna run things? You could start by volunteering a little!

         Another irony is that despite this “bold step”, they are unwilling to take a tough stand unless it benefits the wealthy. Look at their post about the “Kinnick House” in Manville Heights. Where is their bold stance on this? When there is no clear “win” for developers, they do not know how to decide an issue. So they cop out and say, “What do you think?” Since when does this group care what people think? Certainly not when presented with 3,000 names on a petition! Certainly not when faced with election results!

The final irony is that some members of this group refused to compromise when they ran things. Progressives begged and pleaded every other Tuesday for decades, but got virtually nothing in return. The neocons had enough votes that they did not need to compromise – so they didn’t.

         I chuckle at how badly some conservatives want to co-opt the word “progressive”. As I told former Mayor Matt Hayek, cutting the levy rate and reducing the funding that goes to human services while at the same time handing money to businesses and reducing the unionized workforce is NOT progressive! (He disagrees.)

         Yep, he badly wants to be known as “progressive”. I cannot help but think of the movie The Princess Bride and the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

         Some folks are very used to exercising privilege; they expect to set the rules of the game, and they get really angry when you disagree. Well, I’m not giving up this fight. There is nothing wrong with being a neocon. It is a perfectly acceptable worldview. But neocons DO NOT get to redefine the word “progressive” to meet their own needs. Sorry, guys… you lose this one, too!

         The Minimum Wage debate that I just mentioned is a perfect example of this. Many of these folks who had been in power had been approached about doing something. They found excuses to do nothing. When the Board of Supervisors acted, these folks railed against the “process”. Arguments against “process” are actually code for, “MY people are supposed to decide these types of things!” Well, in the case of the minimum wage, they had an opportunity and passed.

         Don’t get me wrong; I like most of the contributors to this new site. Some I consider friends. I wish them well in their new endeavor. It is important that the right-of-center/neocon side of things be voiced.

         But does this mean Organized Labor, women, people of color, low-income folks, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, environmentalists, and other progressive groups are going to simply hand over the keys to Iowa City, Johnson County, and the Democratic Party? I think not!

*DID YOU KNOW?  Some of the projects already funded by the Conservation Bond include Ciha Fen, the Sutliff/Cedar River Crossings area, the Clear Creek Trail, the Pechman Creek Delta, and the Hoover Nature Trail between Solon and Ely, just to name a few!

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home