Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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September 28, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     10/3/17

In this edition:

*Puerto Rico
*Happy Homecoming!
*Congratulations Fiona Johnson!
*Congratulations Dave Koch!
*Richard Mentor Johnson, Part 3
*Did You Know?

*Puerto Rico
         We have a crisis! I am amazed at how little attention is being paid to the crisis in Puerto Rico. American response has been too little, too late – and these are American citizens we are talking about! (Not that it should matter, but my God!)

         There is a lot of noise out there right now. Please make sure your elected officials are putting the needs of Puerto Rico near the top of the list!

         We have apples, and you are welcome to take all you want! The tree is in the backyard of our house at 2326 E. Court Street in Iowa City. Just bring a bucket and stop by!

*Happy Homecoming!
         Happy Homecoming! I love the traditions of Homecoming; the parade, the pomp and circumstance, alumni returning from afar. Homecoming is one of the real benefits of living in a University town.

         I hope you enjoy Homecoming as much as I do. Either way, have a great week and Go Hawks!

*Congratulations Fiona Johnson!
         The Board of Supervisors announced the appointment of a new director of the Johnson County Ambulance Service (JCAS). Fiona Johnson, currently a paramedic supervisor with JCAS, has accepted the position. Johnson will begin her duties October 2. The current Director, Steve Spenler, is retiring October 23.

Fiona came to Johnson County in November 1999 after working as a paramedic for Mast Ambulance in Kansas City, Missouri. She began with Johnson County as a paramedic, then took on a paramedic supervisor position in 2008. Johnson has coordinated staff education and also serves as a community instructor for Crisis Intervention Team training.

In July, Johnson County opened its new Ambulance and Medical Examiner facility. The 36,000-square-foot facility was designed to not only keep pace with Johnson County’s current need for services, but also to address future needs. Johnson County is the second-fastest growing county in the state, which puts continued pressure on services. For example, in Fiscal Year 2016, the number of calls for service to Johnson County Ambulance surpassed 10,000 for the first time with 10,348 calls. Ambulance calls have increased 40% over the last five years.

*Congratulations Dave Koch!
The Johnson County Board of Health last week appointed Dave Koch [pronounced COACH] to serve as the Director of Johnson County Public Health (JCPH), effective October 8, 2017. Koch replaces Director Doug Beardsley, who served in the position for nine years.

Koch earned a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health from Iowa State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration through the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has worked in the Corridor since 1991, including more than 10 years as Assistant to the Cedar Rapids Fire Chief for Community Outreach and Research, where he served as the City of Cedar Rapids’ lead Public Information Officer during the historic 2008 flood. Koch has held his current position with JCPH—Community Health Division Manager—since 2012.

*Richard Mentor Johnson, Part 3
         Old Dick – AKA Richard Mentor Johnson – continues to haunt me!

As you may recall, I wrote a few weeks ago about Johnson’s troubling history. My primary goal was to get folks interested in learning the history of Johnson County’s namesake.

In the weeks since, I have received over a hundred emails, many Facebook messages, and a few calls. A few thanked me for bringing the issue up. One woman noted, “I have lived my whole life in Linn County without knowing for whom it was named. Now I’m determined to learn.”

         Unfortunately, she was part of a distinct minority. Most people have simply chosen to call me names. Many were upset at the costs associated with changing the name. I agree! That is why I NEVER suggested changing the name! This is a really important point to make.

         In the 9-12-17 edition of Salvos, I wrote: “Obviously, changing the name of the County itself would cause millions of problems for thousands of people. But what about honoring a DIFFERENT Johnson?”

         I think I was pretty clear – I was talking about the namesake, not the name. I recognize that many people do not read articles thoroughly. I also realize that some people just read what they want to read. But I wish they would stick to the topic.

         It really hasn’t even been mentioned that Johnson thought of Native Americans as “vermin”, and kept track of Native American killings the way a deer hunter might be able to tell you how many bucks he had killed. Johnson killed Native Americans indiscriminately, including outside of wars, and he was proud of it.

         Now, perhaps you can argue that he was just a man of his times. He was a slaveholder, for example. And lots of Americans have ancestors who killed Native Americans. Unfortunately, Johnson’s attitude was far from unique for the time. In fact, Johnson’s exploits are precisely what made him a popular choice for Vice President. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just have that conversation civilly? What if we were able to actually reflect on just what this meant then, and what it means today? What if we actually brought some Native Americans into the conversation?

         Meanwhile, I just find this whole episode sad. Only a tiny handful of people are/were willing to have a conversation about our past. Most online respondents bullied the folks who wanted to have an actual discussion, regardless of the side they were on. Over 90% of the people simply replied by calling me names. The guy from the Solon Legion called me all kinds of names, but will not take my call.

That is what has become of political discourse in our country. It is just sad. (And the Press Citizen will not find THAT tragic reality worthy of an article!)

*DID YOU KNOW?  The number of indigenous people living in the Americas prior to Columbus is widely debated by scientists. Some think there were as many as 112 million (in North, South, and Central America combined); others put that total as low as 10 million. DNA research done by National Geographic shows a post-Columbus population crash unrivaled in human history.

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

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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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