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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

What does a supervisor do?

To those who thought I would answer the question in clear, simple terms, I apologize.

It’s not that easy. For one thing, the supervisors themselves determine what they do, and they are the ones who know how they spend their time. (Much as I’d love to, I don’t follow them around all day.)

When Salary War I broke out in January 2008 with the near-assassination of Archduke Dave Machacek at the hands of Steve Jackson Sr. and Jim Houser, I wrote a story entitled “A full-time job, full of meetings,” in which I reported that the job of a county supervisor is in a sense unlimited.

From the story, dated Jan. 13, 2008 (and edited slightly because I’m a slightly better writer now): …the supervisors say the scope of their job — as budget decision-makers, complaint takers, program administrators, mediators at the intersection of state and local government and custodians of myriad other duties — is so broad that adding two new members will not change their workload.

The upshot is they must perform a growing, scattered set of jobs, and, if they so choose, can work constantly. The new supervisors who take office next January, the incumbents say, face a steep learning curve and may be unprepared.

“The job just has grown,” said James Houser, a county supervisor since 1990. “There are so many things going on.”

And here we are, about to have the same debate, as the supervisors prepare to craft a recommendation for the Comp Board on how much they should be paid, probably at a meeting on Jan. 6.

As Solomon (that wise, weary king of Israel) said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

What we do know is Linn County’s job description for a supervisor is Iowa Code Section 331, starting with 331.301 and going forward. It’s a lot of reading.

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