Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 29, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/4/17

In this edition:

*Happy Independence Day!
*Downtown Block Party
*Bad Board Policy
*Wallace on Inequality
*Mosquito Surveillance Program
*Did You Know?

*Happy Independence Day!
         Happy Birthday to the USA! 241 years old! I hope you and yours enjoy a great Independence Day!

         Looking for ways to celebrate? The Jazz Festival is in downtown Iowa City, and the 4th has parades in Coralville, Sharon Center, Oxford, and Hills.

*Downtown Block Party
         Iowa City held its’ first-ever Downtown Block Party on June 24th, and I have to say, it was a rousing success! This has previously always been viewed as something that could not be done in Iowa City. And the majority of the crowd knew it! Just as the event ended at 11 PM, a glass bottle broke on the street near us. As a friend of mine jokingly put it, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” In fact, I think Iowa City proved it CAN have nice things!

         Congratulations to Nancy Bird and everyone who put the event together. It was wonderful, and I hope it continues!

*Bad Board Policy
         I recently learned of the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) Board policy that says members "shall not publicly make or express individual negative judgments about superintendent or staff performance."

         I understand quite well the perils faced by public employees. Their bosses go on TV every week or two, and just might throw them under the bus. Unfortunately, I have seen it happen at Johnson County, and it is very uncool. I have always believed that if Elected Officials feel employees deserve a tongue lashing, it should be done privately.

         This is particularly true of rank and file employees. Frankly, they aren’t paid enough for that crap! The more responsibility (and pay) an employee has, the more likely she/he is to be questioned in public. And that is how it should be.

         And remember, this IS public business! There may be instances where Elected Officials NEED to question an employee in the public interest. No policy should prevent that.

         I think the piece that really shocked me was the tone the Superintendent used toward the Board when he wrote, "This behavior cannot be allowed to continue without some type of warning that it must not occur again and that if it does so appropriate consequences will be imposed."

         That took guts! It also demonstrates that staff people can get confused, and begin to think that the Board works for them rather than the other way around. This attitude strikes me as extremely problematic. It should be addressed immediately – and privately!

         I was honestly amazed to see that such a policy exists. I do not understand why anyone would ever agree to such a policy. What’s more, it is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

         ICCSD Board Members – you have a very bad and unnecessary policy here. Please do away with it!

*Wallace on Inequality
         I have long been a fan of Henry Agard Wallace, the Iowan who served as FDR’s Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture. Wallace was a great thinker – a man of ideas. So I was not surprised to find that some of the earliest thoughts on income inequality in the US are attributed to Wallace.

In 1936, Wallace wrote, “Liberty is impossible if 36,000 families at the top of the economic pyramid have as much income as 12 million families at the bottom.”

I agree. And I regret to inform you that the numbers have grown much worse. With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.

36,000 to 12,000,000 is a 1:333 ratio. That worried Wallace. 400 to 194,000,000 is a ratio of 1:485,000. It is getting worse, folks. Much worse.

         What do I think is going to happen in the great healthcare debate? I think Mitch McConnell is going to get his 50 votes, and the GOP will pass the bill. The top 1% gets a trillion dollar tax cut, and 22 million Americans lose health coverage.

         Why am I so certain? When was the last time the GOP in Congress did anything to help anyone BUT the 1%? They don’t give a damn. They just need to make it look like they give a damn.

         I’m betting it passes. Iowa’s Senators are DEFINITE yes votes. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I am not optimistic!

*Mosquito Surveillance Program
This summer Johnson County Public Health will collecting mosquitoes to conduct surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases across Johnson County. In cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa State University and the State Hygienic Laboratory, Johnson County Public Health will utilize traps to collect mosquitoes for further analysis.

The traps are located across Johnson County in areas of likely mosquito habitat. Each week the mosquitoes will be collected by Johnson County Environmental Health staff and sent to Iowa State University for species identification. After identification occurs, samples will be sent to the State Hygienic Laboratory to test for the presence of Zika Virus and West Nile Virus.

The Zika Virus is an emerging public health threat, and increased surveillance is key to prevention and management. Zika can cause birth defects if contracted by pregnant women. It is generally found in tropical climates; however, it was first seen in the United States in 2015 by infected travelers returning home. It is unlikely to see the species of mosquito that carried the Zika virus in Johnson County, however, this type of surveillance helps public health officials know exactly when that could change.

While it is not expected that Zika will be identified in Iowa this year, active surveillance and testing will help determine if the mosquito species that carries the virus does reach Johnson County. The monitoring program serves as an early warning system and provides data for state and nationwide surveillance efforts.

*DID YOU KNOW?  New research from economists Annette Alstadsaeter, Niels Johannesen, and Gabriel Zucman — just published as Tax Evasion and Inequality — neatly debunks the canard that the super rich cheat on their taxes no more frequently than the population as a whole. Households in the highest net-worth bracket, the three economists show, are evading taxes at a rate roughly 10 times higher than households overall.

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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