Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


September 1, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/6/16

In this edition:

*”Kinnick House”
*LGD and Ph.D.
*More on Education
*Did You Know?

*”Kinnick House”
         You have probably heard about the controversy caused by the “Kinnick House” proposed for Lusk Avenue in Manville Heights. If not, a quick background: Lusk Avenue is a one block long street that dead-ends at some majestic, 100+ years old oaks. The street is just across Highway 6 from the VA Hospital; in other words, close to UI athletic venues. It is in this spot, on a small residential lot, that a man from Decorah proposes building his “Kinnick House”.

         Yes, the house is supposed to look like a replica of Kinnick Stadium. The gentleman who proposes the building claims that he and his wife will visit “several times a year” but that it will often sit vacant. At over 7,000 square feet with a commercial kitchen and multiple bathrooms, it is hard to imagine this structure simply being used as a residential home.

         Here is my take: Iowa City is going to get sued either way. Why not stand up for the neighborhood? Rather than forcing neighbors to sue, force the guy who wants to ruin their neighborhood to sue. Make him prove to a jury that this is just a residence.

         It is way too easy for the City to say, “There is nothing we can do.” I do not believe that. This is not simply a matter of aesthetics; this is a clear attempt to subvert the zoning code. There is a compelling reason to say no. I’d rather see the Council take a stand for their constituents and lose doing the right thing.

*LGD and Ph. D.
         I often get questions about Supervisor Lisa Green Douglass, the newest member of the Board. People always ask how she is doing.

         The answer is she is doing fine! The job of Supervisor requires learning a lot about a wide variety of topics. No one gets it all immediately. But Lisa is a quick study.

         And that is one thing that really stands out about Lisa (affectionately becoming known as LGD) - her intelligence. She is one smart cookie! That actually got me thinking… is this the first time Johnson County has had a Supervisor with a Ph.D.? Have we even had a Supervisor with a Master’s Degree?

         I can hear the naysayers already… why does a County Supervisor need a Master’s Degree? We don’t NEED one. But that is not the point. Johnson County is one of the most educated counties in the world. (We rank #20 in the US, with 24% of the population having a Master’s Degree or greater education.) I simply find it interesting that we have not had many Supervisors with advanced degrees.

         State Senator Joe Bolkcom has a Master’s Degree, and had it when he served as a County Supervisor in the 1990s. Bolkcom’s former colleague Jonathon Jordahl actually has multiple Master’s Degrees. Former Supervisor Janet Shipton has led a remarkable life; I’m not certain if she has an advanced degree or not.

         Beyond that…I cannot find anyone! I think LGD is our first Ph.D.! Please correct me if you know otherwise.

*More on Education
         We are in the midst of a big political campaign, and Iowa City/Coralville is a very politically active area. I often hear people in this area make comments about lower income white voters and their affinity for Donald Trump. “Why?” they ask.

         To be honest, there are probably 5-6 legitimate answers to the question, “Why?” We will talk about more as the campaign progresses. But there is one particular dynamic I want to focus on today, and that is education.

I just wrote about this in Salvos, but it bears repeating:

“Almost without fail, they will emphasize the need for more education as a cure for economic inequality.

         I understand this notion. I am certainly pro-education. But statistics prove that education alone is NOT the answer to economic inequality. Here is why:

         The American workforce has never been better educated. The American workforce has never been more productive. Yet inequality has never been worse.

       In 1940, less than 50% of Americans finished high school. That number has gradually increased, and while there have been some ups and downs, the rate hit an all-time high of 82% in 2015.

         Similarly, the percentage of college grads was 4.6% in 1940. It was 7.7% in 1960, 17% in 1980, and 30% in 2010. (Source: US Census Bureau.)

         So – American workers ARE better educated. They are doing what they have been asked to do. They are getting better educated. They are upholding their end of the bargain; it is the corporations who have let us down.

         I understand why we are attracted to the myth that education is the key to all our problems. There are plenty of anecdotal instances of a poor kid using education to rise to the top. Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama are all examples of poor/middle class kids using education to better their position. It makes for a great rags-to-riches story. It also puts all the responsibility on the individual.

But any statistician will tell you – these high-profile stories are just anecdotes. These are just data points. For most people, education is hard to attain, especially an elite education. And even once you have gotten an education, it serves as no guarantee. Just look at my earlier statistics. The myth sounds good, and feels good – but it is a myth.

         We will not solve inequality by focusing on workers. They are doing what they need to do. We need to focus on the corporations that have done so much to keep our workers down.”

         The people of Iowa City and Coralville are extremely well educated. That is a very good thing! But it must not lead to a viewpoint that education is everything!

         Hillary Clinton and the members of the Democratic Party keep encouraging more and better education. Again, this is a good thing. But it will not solve all our problems.

         Many American workers may not have advanced educations, but they are not stupid. Workers need a lifeline. Trump offers them rhetoric. Democrats need to offer them something real, not just mountains of student debt.

*DID YOU KNOW?  52% of the population of Johnson County has a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. That ranks #17 in the US. (Source: US Census Bureau.)

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