The Daily Iowan

Johnson County supervisor blasts Iowa City city manager in blog post


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Disputes over the future of a local para-transit program has two local leaders at odds, when one called foul to the others’ business practices and of “screwing” over Johnson County a number of weeks ago.

Through his weekly newsletter, Supervisor Rod Sullivan criticized City Manager Tom Markus for his lack of negotiations between the city and county on SEATS funding. SEATS provides across town shuttle service for area residents with mobility and disability issues.

“You blew it. There was a great opportunity for Iowa City and Johnson County to work together … You decided to screw the county when it came to the animal shelter,” Sullivan stated in the newsletter. “Then you are disingenuous when it comes to SEATS negotiations. I do not trust you. I do not like the way you do business. It was not always this way.”

The nearly three-page rant continues with Sullivan pointing out that officials with the city of Iowa City have always had a “mild arrogance” by placing themselves “superior” to county officials.

Sullivan also highlighted a press release that Markus sent out that accused the county of planning to phase out the SEATS program completely.

And Markus said while he agreed with Sullivan’s thoughts on the value of the SEATS program, he declined to comment further on the matter.

“I would say everybody is entitled to their opinion,” he said. “I would guess that we’ll speak at some point but we will move forward as we intend to do on most issues. We think [SEATS] is an excellent service, we think that the department that provides it does an excellent job at providing the service … I’m not going to get into any specific commentary.”

Sullivan told The Daily Iowan he hoped Markus would understand the impact of the situation and not let it fall by the wayside.

“I just hope that he understands the gravity of the things that I’m describing. It’s essentially a huge change the way we do business,” he said. “It’s not a path I would prefer to go down. There is a whole accounting of everything you can’t take it in isolation.”

Supervisor Pat Harney said he felt Sullivan was speaking on his own behalf when commenting about Markus, and although it may have not been the most professional, he was entitled to his own opinion.

“Supervisor Sullivan is speaking for himself and not for the board in that situation. I wouldn’t take away from the professionalism of Tom Markus …” Harney said.

“I think there should’ve been a more professional approach, but he [Sullivan] is entitled to his opinion. I think we need to handle ourselves in a more professional manner. I think we all understand there has been a subsidy increase that has not been addressed. We need to work through this with the cities of Coralville and North Liberty. I think some adjustments need to be made.”