Miller opposed to business as usual

October 13, 2018

I am Joel D. Miller, an Independent – No Party candidate running for Linn County Supervisor.  I am running for supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders on the Board of Supervisors. 

The following 10 questions were provided by a local news organization:

1>  WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES IN LINN COUNTY, AND HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THEM?

1>  No new long-term debt except for flood control or flood protection;

2>  Collaborate with Linn County’s cities and school districts to reduce overlapping services and associated costs; and

3>  Streamline the County’s departments/offices to reduce costs while maintaining or improving legally required services. 

How?  Reprioritize spending.  Quit building new buildings; repurpose existing buildings, if necessary.  Sell off properties not required for county purposes.  Get out of the land speculation and land development business.  Stop handing out other-peoples-money (tax dollars) to non-profits except in rare cases.  Spend economic development funds on true “economic” projects.

2>  WHAT ISSUES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE BOARD PUSH FOR IN THE COMING TWO TO FOUR YEARS?

The County’s current budget does NOT include one dime for flood control, protection, or mitigation.  If elected, I will push for joint flood protection/control by the City of Cedar Rapids and the County to protect the County’s buildings on Mays Island.  I will create a permanent backup location for departments/offices that can be used when services are threatened to be interrupted by the flooding Cedar River or other events.  Answer continued below – see “County’s Role in Flood protection”.

3>  THE SIZE OF THE BOARD WILL REDUCE FROM FIVE MEMBERS TO THREE AT THE START OF 2019.  HOW DOES THIS IMPACT THE BOARD?  HOW WOULD HAVING A THREE MEMBER BOARD CHANGE YOUR APPROACH AS A SUPERVISOR?

When the voters reduced the size of the Board, they reduced the cost of the Board by about $250,000 per year starting on 1/1/2019.

For over 100 years, the County had a 3 member Board and the Board functioned just fine.  I believe the new 3 member Board will function just fine, too. 

For example, some of the current Board have attendance issues.  From Jan-Aug 2018, two Supervisors were absent from 16 Board meetings each.  I don’t think that issue will occur with the new 3 member Board.

4>  WHAT SHOULD THE COUNTY’S ROLE IN FLOOD PROTECTION BE?  SHOULD THE COUNTY PURSUE FLOOD PROTECTION MEASURES?  AND IF SO, HOW WOULD YOU DO SO?

During the Flood of 2016, the County denied services to the public by evacuating the  Public Service Center, the Juvenile Justice Center, and the Courthouse; and banned public access to the Sheriff’s Office and Jail due to a flooding Cedar River. 

Recently, a flooding Cedar River could have caused the County to shut down services once again.  If elected, I will designate and equip a permanent backup location for the County to provide uninterrupted services to the public.

5>  HOW WELL DOES COUNTY GOVERNMENT WORK WITH CITY GOVERNMENTS WITH THE COUNTY?  ARE THERE EFFICIENCIES THAT CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS?

Combining County and city departments that provide the same services could save tax dollars. 

Consider:  the County’s current Assistant Conservation Director, Risk Manager, and IT Director previously worked for CR; and a former manager with the County’s Roads Dept works for CR’s Streets Dept.

If employees can seamlessly move between the County and city, why can’t two government departments providing similar services be combined?  Efficiencies can be achieved and costs reduced if you inspect what you expect.

6>  SHOULD THE COUNTY PUSH THE ENVELOPE WITH STATE MATTERS OR WITH MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES?  WHEN SHOULD THE COUNTY WORK WITH OTHER ENTITIES AND WHEN SHOULD THE COUNTY GO ITS OWN WAY?

The Board of Supervisors should vigorously lobby and build consensus to pass State legislation instead of challenging the Legislature as it has done in the past. 

For example, there is no evidence that the County’s minimum wage law reduced the demand on County services as advertised by the Board.  Instead, it was election year rhetoric that gave hope to people, was short-lived, and unenforceable.  Don’t create laws when you don’t have the means to enforce them or the intent to enforce them.

7>  IF YOU’RE FORCED TO CUT THE COUNTY BUDGET, WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR SAVINGS?  WHY?

County management. 

Overall, the Board has too many direct reports and too many management staff. 

If elected, I will review the organization starting with the number of employees reporting to each manager and deputy elected official, their duties, and the costs of each position.  I will find some managers that could be managing more and some managers who are really individual contributors, who should be reporting to someone else or their positions combined with another position.

8>  DO YOU THINK THE COUNTY SHOULD INCREASE SPENDING ON RURAL ROAD MAINTENANCE?

No.  But I will meet with the township trustees in each of the County’s 19 townships and see what they think.  At this time, I think the funding for rural road maintenance is sufficient.  The question comes down to spending priorities and timelines.  The trustees likely have a different view than a County Engineer reporting the Board of Supervisors.

A “meeting of the minds” might change some priorities and/or my mind.

9>  WOULD YOU FAVOR THE REGIONALIZATION OF SOME SERVICES?  IF SO, WHICH ONES?

Linn County (LC) owns a Juvenile Detention Center, and Johnson County (JC) has a contract for beds in our Center, and thus JC avoids owning its own Center.

JC owns a 911 Center (911C) for emergency services and LC has three 911Cs.  Could LC reduce the number of its 911Cs by sharing services with JC?

JC needs a new Jail.  Is it time to move LC’s Jail from Mays Island and out of the flood zone? And create a regional jail?  Could LC reduce Jail costs by running/owning/sharing a regional Jail? 

10>  HOW WOULD YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CONSTITUENTS?

I enjoy face-to-face discussions in restaurants, standing in line at coffee shops, attending Rotary meetings or at church.  I will continue to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and my blog.

Our communications department will continue to provide press releases.

The most important duty is to be present.  To be present and attend scheduled Board meetings.  To take turns with the other Supervisors so at least one Supervisor is in the office and available to the public during business hours.

DONATE

Donate now to help elect a fiscal watchdog to the Linn County Board of Supervisors. Vote Miller for Supervisor on the November 6th ballot. Donations of $25 or less are anonymous per Iowa law.

$25.00

   Vote Miller for Supervisor on November 6th.

Paid for by Miller for the People

 

Voters, take care to make your ballots count

October 12, 2018

THE GAZETTE’S EDITORIAL

The good news is Linn County voters, clearly, are highly motivated to cast their ballots this fall.

So much so that when the Linn County Auditor’s Office sent out sample ballots to more than 90,000 registered voters, 489 people filled out that sample, apparently thinking it to be a real ballot. The word ‘sample’ scrawled across the ballot faded during printing. The mailing included an absentee ballot request form and a return envelope, prompting some to erroneously mail in the sample ballot.

Unfortunately, 44 of those returned samples lacked a return address, making it impossible for auditor’s staff to alert those voters of their mistake. We hope a series of media reports have reached those voters, who can still vote by traditional means. Sent-in samples have been shredded.

Now that the auditor’s office is in the midst of mailing and handling thousands of absentee ballots and requests, we agree with Auditor Joel Miller that another mailing alerting voters to the sample ballot issue could create more confusion.

This episode is a reminder that mistakes can cost voters their right to be heard.

Two years ago in Linn County, more than 3,000 requested absentee ballots never were returned. Among those returned, 180 voters failed to provide a signature.

Due to copyright laws, I cannot paste the entire editorial here.  To continue reading, go to https://cedarrapidsgazette-ia.newsmemory.com/ and login  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Oleson campaigns on your time

October 11, 2018
How many other Linn County Supervisors are campaigning on your time?  Rogers was #1 and now Supervisor Oleson is #2.  Who is #3?

 

Did the voters know about these ethical shenanigans when they voted to reduce the Board of Supervisors from five members to three?  Maybe.

Paid for by Miller for the People

 

Yesterday at 1:22 PM · Marion (Yesterday = 10/10/2018) 

Oil change! One of my longest & most loyal supporters Troy Benham of Marion Goodyear. I support Marion businesses & I love when they support me back. 🙂

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor

Voters confused by absentee ballot robocall from DCCC

October 11, 2018

Yesterday, a Linn County voter contacted the Elections Office to report on a robocall from “DCCC 202-478-9476”. When you call 202-478-9476, you reach the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) , and its voice mail box is full (as of 10:16am on 10/11/2018).

This morning, we are reaching out the DCCC after another voter received a similar robocall.

The robocall could be interpreted as confirmation that a voter who requested an absentee ballot should expect it, and return it via the prepaid postage envelope. Or it could be interpreted as DO NOT go to the polls because an absentee ballot is headed your way.

If you know the source of this robocall, please call us at 319-892-5300 option 1 or mailto:elections@linncounty.org  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

—–Original Message—–
From: KN
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:02 AM
To: Stonawski, Rebecca <Rebecca.Stonawski@linncounty.org>
Subject: Absentee Ballot Robocall

Rebecca,
Attached is a recording of the message left on my answering machine. The audio time stamp is incorrect as my answering machine clock is not set correctly.  The actual call was received at 5:25 PM Oct 9. Our land line logged the caller’s number as 319.536.1706 (which I assume was spoofed). The call was placed to my home land line – 319.xxx.xxxx

Feel free to call me if you have any follow up questions. My mobile number is 319.xxx.xxxx.

Rogers campaigns on your time

October 11, 2018

Linn County Board of Supervisors’ offices are open from 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday, except for holidays.  Those hours are the official business hours for the Supervisors and staff.

So why is my opponent posting campaign related items on his Rogers for Supervisor and personal Facebook accounts during official business hours?  Is it ethical for him to be posting campaign items on your time, i.e., during official business hours?

The following timestamps correspond with the campaign posts made on the Rogers for Supervisor Facebook account during the Board’s official business hours:

Monday, October 8th at 11:58am;

Friday, October 5th at 10:14am;

Friday, October 5th at 9:37am;

Wednesday, September 5th at 1:44pm;

Thursday, August 2nd at 11:05am; and

Wednesday, July 18th at 4:38pm.

The following timestamps correspond with the campaign posts made on the personal Facebook account of Ben Rogers during the Board’s official business hours:

Friday, October 7th at 1:47pm;

Friday, October 5th at 10:15am; and

Wednesday, July 18th at 2:10pm;

I have been extremely conservative in selecting the above Facebook posts as examples of Rogers campaigning during official business hours. 

Rogers campaigns on your time contains copies of campaign posts corresponding to the preceding timestamps.

I am Joel D. Miller, an Independent – No Party candidate for Linn County Supervisor.

I am running for supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders on the Board of Supervisors.  How?  By focusing on the day-to-day operations of County Government with an eye toward reducing costs while maintaining or improving legally required services.

If elected, I will not be posting campaign items on social media during the Board’s official business hours.  I do not do that now.  Vote Miller for Supervisor on November 6th.

Paid for by Miller for the People 

Board ready to spend another $3,500,000

October 10, 2018

On Monday (10-8-2018), the Linn County Board of Supervisors decided to spend from $58,000 to $83,000 with RSM US LLP for project management services related to a Linn County Mental Health Access Center (LCMHAC).

On that same Monday, Governor Kim Reynolds spoke to the Rotary Club of Downtown Cedar Rapids.  In front of a room full of fellow Rotarians, I told her about our Board’s plans to spend $3,500,000 for a LCMHAC.  I asked her if our Board’s plans would be a duplication of our Mental Health Region’s (MHR) plans.  The Governor stated MHRs already have the funding to build Access Centers. 

My opponent, Big Spender Ben Rogers (BSBR) says the County is not going to wait for the State to build an Access Center to serve Linn County.

Once again, BSBR and the other Big Spenders on our Board are thumbing their noses at the State.  BSBR’s go-it-alone approach is going to cost County taxpayers another $3,500,000 plus.

I am Joel D. Miller, an Independent – No Party candidate for Linn County Supervisor.

I am running for Supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders on the Board of Supervisors.  Vote Miller for Supervisor on November 6th.

Paid for by Miller for the People

Gazette ignores INTEGRITY in Supervisor endorsments

October 9, 2018

Disclaimer: I am not a member of Iowalive and I never have been a member of it. I do not know who is a member of Iowalive, or if it has one member or 1,000 members. I did not expect the email below and I did not solicit it. I do believe Iowalive has identified a topic for future discussion. Paid for by Miller for the People

From: <iowalive9>
Subject: GAZETTE IGNORES INTEGRITY IN LINN CO. SUPERVISOR ENDORSEMENTS

Date: October 8, 2018 at 13:35:40 CDT

To: “ADAM SULLIVAN–COLUMNIST, EDITORIAL BOARD” <adam.sullivan>, “Jim Burke President” <jim.burke>, “Lynda Waddington ” <lynda.waddington>, “QUINN PETTIFER ” <quinn.pettifer>, “‘TODD DORMAN–GAZETTE'” <todd.dorman>, “VICKI DECKER, LETTERS EDITOR” <vicki.decker>, “‘Zack Kucharski'” <Zack.kucharski>

Cc: <info>, <Miller4ThePeople>, <rogersforsupervisor>, <jharrisp>, “AJAI DITTMAR” <sibzianna>, “Jeff Holschuh – NPC” <jholschuh>, “LYLE MULLER–IOWA WATCH” <lyle-muller>, <racheter>, “‘ANDIE DOMINICK'” <adominic>, “CAROL HUNTER–EXECUTIVE EDITOR” <chunter>, “JASON CLAYWORTH” <jclayworth>, “Kauffman” <ckauffman>, “Obradovich” <kobradovich>, “PAIGE WINDSOR–NEWS DIRECTOR” <pwindsor>, “Ryan” <maryan>

Greetings, Gazette Editorial Board and all—

Your 1,380 word editorial in the 10-7-18 Gazette endorsed 3 candidates for Linn County Supervisor–and didn’t mention the word ‘integrity’ once.

Integrity is adherence to ethics and morals principles. It is obvious integrity didn’t guide you in making those political endorsements. The following table describes the situation with comparative numbers. Unfortunately, you endorsed Walker for his big government, liberal tendencies rather than his integrity.

You can plan on Rogers, and likely Walker, to take care of Cedar Rapids downtowners!! And Oleson is far from a pillar of stability. L

INTEGRITY SCORES FOR LINN COUNTY SUPERVISOR CANDIDATES

For Comparison, the Gazette’s Endorsement Editorial Scored 205.

Gazette’s Linn Co. Supervisor Endorsements Are in Yellow Source: Gazette & Iowalive 10-8-18
DISTRICT NAME OF CANDIDATE * INTEGRITY PROJECTED INTEGRITY AS SUPERVISOR
1 James Houser 220 170
1 Stacey Walker 315 160
2 Ben Rogers 160 110
2 Joel Miller 320 305
3 Brent Oleson 120 110
3 John Harris 350 300
* Average Year-to-Date 10-1-81 Integrity numbers on a scale of 0 to 1,000 tops are derived with Iowalive’s proprietary algorithms, database and other sources. Significant integrity starts at 300.
Anyone claiming to have better numbers is asked to provide them

The integrity numbers in the table are comparative and are not meant as being absolute. They were consistently derived. Sincerely,Iowalive A growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa

Sample ballot mailer appreciated

October 8, 2018

Over the last week, my office has been on the receiving end of some negative comments about the sample ballot and voter information mailed via the USPS to the 90,500 households in Linn County. As usual, some of my opponents are trying to score points with various people by portraying that this mailer was a bad idea.

The facts are:

1> A bunch of people decided to NOT read and/or did not comprehend the letter that accompanied the mailer with instructions about the sample ballot;

2> A bunch of people either did not see or ignored the word SAMPLE printed on both sides of the sample ballot;

3> About 4,000 voters returned absentee ballot request forms (ABRF) to us from our mailer, who either ignored the ABRFs from candidates and PACs, or never received ABRFs before our mailing; and

4> About 20 voters who returned the ABRFs were not registered to vote so we reached out to them to get them registered to vote.

Could we do better? Yes. The next time we will:

1> Ensure the word SAMPLE is much darker on the sample ballot;

2> Insert postcard size ABRFs into the mailer instead of providing envelopes; and

3> Print the sample ballots on colored paper.

My apologies to any voter who did not understand that the sample ballot was NOT an official absentee ballot to be voted, and returned it to us. The preceding three items should reduce the chance of that occurring again.

My apologies to any voter who did not understand what we wrote on the letter included in the sample ballot mailer. We are open to suggestions on the wording.

Overall, the sample ballot mailer has been a great initiative by Election Services and one that I may repeat again in the future.

The hand written note in the attachment reflects our intent. It reads, “I appreciated getting the sample ballot. It is nice to see everyone who will be on the ballot before entering the booth!” – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Sample ballot appreciation 10-8-2018_Redacted.pdf

Running to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders

October 7, 2018

The US Census Bureau says one-half of the households in Cedar Rapids make $55,000 or less per year; one-half of the households in Hiawatha make $44,000 or less per year; and one-half of the households in Linn County make $61,000 or less per year.

About 10-12% of the County’s population lives in poverty.  About 21% of Linn County government’s employees reside outside of Linn County.  I wonder if we are taxing our residents out of the County.    

I am Joel D. Miller, an Independent – No Party candidate for Linn County Supervisor.

I am running for Linn County Supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders on the Board of Supervisors.

On 7/1/2009, Linn County had no debt.  On 7/1/2018, the County was $22,585,000 in debt.  By this time next year, we will be over $50 million in debt.  Long term debt increases taxes.

On 9/9/2018, the Board handed out $233,730 in mid-year pay raises to some employees, which was $133,730 more than they budgeted.  Then on 9/26/2018, the Board decided to spend $569,800 on the O’Brien Building when they only budgeted $290,000.  Spending more than budgeted increases taxes.

How will I make a difference?  I know that 59% of the County’s population resides in Cedar Rapids, and 60% of the workers living in Linn County work in Cedar Rapids.  If elected Supervisor, I will oppose any new long term debt except for flood control or flood protection, and I will work with the City of Cedar Rapids on both.

In an effort to reduce the County’s operating costs, I will work with Linn County’s cities and school districts to reduce overlapping services with my mission being to decrease the overall out-of-pocket taxes paid by taxpayers.

My focus will be on the day-to-day operations of the County and its organization – not outside boards and groups. 

Why should you vote for me? Time and time again, I have proven to be the only fiscal watchdog to question the Board of Supervisors.  Unfortunately, I do not have a vote on the Board. 

If the independent, common sense people in this County want a voice and a vote on the Board of Supervisors, then they need to elect me, Joel D. Miller, an Independent, No Party candidate to the Board.

I am running for Linn County Supervisor to protect the taxpayers from the Big Spenders on the Board of Supervisors.

Note:  The Gazette requested that each candidate submit a 400 word column to its Editorial Board for publication in an upcoming issue.  My column, the preceding, went online on 10/6 and was published in the print edition on 10/7.  The editors made a few modifications to my column and did not retain the links I included above.  
Paid for by Miller for the People

Postcard mailed to eligible but unregistered voters

September 29, 2018

Kudos to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office for reaching out to Iowa citizens who have drivers licenses and IDs, but are not registered to vote – see below email from Kline!

I believe this idea evolved from a question by John Chiodo – Polk County Director of Elections, to the SoS during a meeting with county auditors several months ago.  It’s fantastic to witness a great idea being implemented and prevailing over politics in a hyper-partisan political environment!  Kudos to the idea generators and the implementors! Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

From: Kline, Ken [SOS] [Ken.Kline@sos.iowa.gov]
Sent: Friday, September 28, 2018 1:33 PM

County auditors and staff:

You will see below a 4” x 6” postcard that was mailed today to more than 300,000 persons who are eligible, but unregistered to vote.

The phone number is located in the SOS office, and was selected so as to lessen the burden to your offices with inquiries.  We have hired temporary staff to take phone calls and answer questions.

You may still receive calls from voters.  In the past two weeks we have had more than 10,000 people use the online voter registration system.  Some of these folks will receive a postcard and may wonder why, since they just registered.  This is simply due to the logistics and timing of processing records, and printing and mailing cards for such a large number of people.

Because each of these people have an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID, we have encouraged them to take advantage of the online VR system.

Please join us in encouraging people to register and vote.  We will plan to keep in contact with you as we go through and learn from this process.


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