Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


June 28, 2018

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/3/18

In this edition:

*Happy Independence Day!
*To Serve Or Not To Serve?
*SCOTUS Gets It Wrong
*Public Sector Unions
*Camera Policy
*Did You Know?

*Happy Independence Day!
         Happy Birthday to the USA! 242 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 4thhas parades in Coralville, Sharon Center, Oxford, and Hills.

*To Serve Or Not To Serve?
         Sara Huckabee Sanders was refused service at a restaurant the other night. This became national news. And the irony is rich!

         After all, Sanders is the one arguing that merchants should be able to deny service to the LGBTQ community. Apparently poor Sara didn’t like it when it was her turn.

         There is a big push in this country - coming from straight, white, rich males – that somehow collectively they are victims. It is not true, nor has it ever been true. But if we do things like deny them access to restaurants? We play directly into that narrative.

         Personally? If it were my restaurant, I would have made sure she got the best possible service. Because bottom line, the Golden Rule tells us to treat others as we would like to be treated. The world will not improve unless we improve it. 

         But I am also sensitive to those who want to protest. I worry that we are losing our capacity for outrage. Tom Scocca wrote the following in the Washington Post:

“Children are sleeping under foil blankets in federal captivity. It is not any person’s duty to make life more comfortable for the White House press secretary, or for the head of Homeland Security, or for any of the other officials who conceived, carried out and defended the policy of tearing apart families. It is not a private citizen’s job to ask whether their revulsion and outrage have been correctly calibrated to fit party goals for the next two cycles, on the theory that the highest human calling is to be a successful campaign strategist. If pundits are worried about the relationship between manners and brutality, instead of asking whether people ought to be so rude to the administration, they might ask what they’ve accomplished by being polite.”

         He makes a point! What are your thoughts?

*SCOTUS Gets It Wrong
         I have long been an avid follower of the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Sometimes the decisions make me swell with pride; sometimes they leave me seething in anger. Either way, pretty much every SCOTUS decision is monumental.

         Unfortunately, the SCOTUS just got several cases wrong. Really wrong. Yes, I am referring to LGBTQ, gerrymandering, voter roles, and labor union cases. But I am particularly galled by the case Trump vs. International Refugee Assistance, also known as the Muslim Travel Ban.

         Just take a moment to reread the actual name of the case. Trump vs. International Refugee Assistance. Doesn’t that really say it all?

         In a few years, this Court and this case will be shamed for this decision, just as earlier Courts were shamed for Dred Scott and Koramatsu. And they will have deserved it.

         In her dissent, Justice Sonya Sotomayor pointed to the Court’s hypocrisy. The Supreme Court only a month ago “found less pervasive official expressions of hostility and the failure to disavow them to be constitutionally significant” in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which involved a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding based on his religious beliefs, the justices noted. The majority opinion in that case cited statements made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and said they were “hostile to a religion.” As Sotomayor points out, you would have a hard time arguing Trump has no animus toward Muslims.

         In twenty years, you can tell your grandkids you remember this dark moment from our past. Meanwhile, please reach out to your Muslim friends and neighbors. They need us now more than ever.

*Public Sector Unions
         The recent Janus decision by the US Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions. But it is not a death blow. Unions can still be as strong as union members want to make them!

         Solidarity, my friends. It has always been critical. We are not good about observing it. We need to get good, and fast.

*Camera Policy
You may not realize it, but Johnson County has a number of cameras on county property. These cameras have come in handy on several occasions; we have had fights, assaults, and other events that we were able to catch on video. There are also occasionally people who commit fraud at the Auditor, Treasurer, or Recorder’s Offices; this way, we have their images captured.

So for the most part, the cameras have only been used to help solve crimes. Sheriff’s Deputies and County Attorney staff are the only people who have needed access. In retrospect, we should have had a policy on cameras before we ever set a camera up. But sometimes technology gets ahead of us.

What really spurred our new policy were some problematic uses of the images captured by our cameras. Unfortunately, a couple of Elected Officials have used these cameras to spy on County employees. The new policy, which we adopted by a vote of 4-1, should put an end to these types of abuses.

County employees deserve respect. They should be able to go about their work without worrying about their every action being monitored. Are there situations where the cameras could be used to see what an employee did in a certain situation? Yes. It is possible. But now those types of requests must go through Human Resources and the County Attorney’s Office. Consideration of employee privacy and other employee rights will be at the forefront.

Elected Officials all try to curry favor with employee unions when running for election. But do the same Elected Officials support our employees in the workplace? I can guarantee you County employees do not want to be under constant surveillance. That is why I support the new Camera Policy.

Are we as a people under too much surveillance? Undoubtedly, yes. But to some extent, that horse has left the barn. What we can do now is ensure that good policies are in place to govern the data that is collected.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Great Britain has 1% of world's population but 20% of its CCTV cameras. Experts have called for a halt in the spread of CCTV cameras. Britain is now being watched by a staggering 4.2million - one for every 14 people and a fifth of the cameras in the entire world. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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