Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dirty Politics

Iron County's dirty political games are coming
to the surface as a result of my lawsuit against
John Archocosky and the City of Iron River.

Hey, fellows, are you sure you want to have the
world see how you do normally business. Do you
really want the world to know that you are unable
to stand and deliver when push comes to shove?
Are you sure you want the world to see what
dirty fighters you usually are, or are you willing
to turn over a new leaf and do things honestly?

In the end you'll come out way ahead if you stop
trying to defend your corrupt practices. Revise
your business practices. Stop taking money
illegally out of the citizens' pockets. Live within
your means as the rest of us must do.

We can easily settle the current lawsuit and
the impending ones if you'll just obey the
conditions that are imposed on you by the
Michigan Constitution and the laws of the
State of Michigan.

No one is asking for anything more than that!

Why are you unable to comply with the laws?

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My departure from Yahoo Groups

I resigned from the IronCountyWatch and the
IronCountyIndependent discussion groups in
November of 2007. It has, since then, been a
productive year from me because I have not
been distracted by the inane presentations of
others that were distracting me from doing
some very worthwhile things.

Any number of people have told me in the past
year that it was a mistake for me to quit, and
that I should remain active there. Several have
gone so far as to deem my absence "a mistake."

Perhaps they're right and I'm wrong, I don't
know and I'm not inclined to find out. I think
if I returned I'd be inclined to waste my time
arguing with people who are not working
towards improving the social, the economic,
and the political situation here in Iron County.
For some reason they think everything is
just fine here, while I am doing my best to
bring 21st Century USA into our everyday
experience here.

In every business curriculum there is one theme that
is repeated time and again. Seek out and deal with
the decision maker. That's not going to happen for
me in the Yahoo discussion groups. That is happening
with the approach to activism I've been taking in
the past year.

I've filed the first of what promises to be several
lawsuits against Iron River. I've taken the time
to study several issues worth suing over. The first
one is memorialized on,
posted earlier today only after the complaint was
filed, fees paid, and summons served this afternoon.

I'll keep participants on my blog advised of everything
that happens. I invite all to come to court to participate
when hearings in the case are held.

I won't talk in advance about the other suits. They're
in work. I will say that a lot less useless chatter in the
Yahoo groups with that energy converted to positive
action designed to improve our situation would be a
much better set of circumstances.

On the internet there's an old label attached to people
who criticize without doing anything about their
complaints. That label is called "critic troll." The
public comments about my proposing a "trolley system,"
an idea far from dead, and more recently my giving
several pages of suggestions to the Rodeo Board, were
only criticism. If the critics are so smart and know better
than I do, I urge them to provide some evidence by
offering something other than criticism against those
who are actually doing something to help. Criticize me
for not doing enough, not for trying.

Try starting your New Year by actually doing something
worthwhile. Using the two Yahoo Groups as bitching
boards isn't it. The two groups have a place in the scheme
of things, but they should never have become the totality
of anyone's activism as they have. I hope you'll join in
making improvements to the county. I don't expect
anyone to change their minds about me. I am satisfied
that I'm doing what I ought to be doing at this stage of
my life, and I can only hope that every reader is doing
as well with theirs.

Happy New Year, with best wishes of peace and prosperity
to each of you, friend and foe alike.

Bill Vajk

FOIA lawsuit in Iron County

Yours truly has filed a lawsuit in Iron County
Circuit court. The summons was served today and
the affidavit of service was filed with the
Clerk of the Court this afternoon.

The exhibits are in .pdf format and I am not
posting them at this time as they are not
necessary to understand the case. They are
only needed for a judicial review which is not
happening in any public forum. If you believe
a cp of the exhibits would be helpful to you
in some way, please ask me for a copy of that
file in email sent to

Document follows.


State of Michigan
In the Circuit Court for the County of Iron
Circuit Division



William J. Vajk v. John Archocosky

Case No. I 08-3982-CZ

Hon. C. Joseph Schwedler

1) Now comes the plaintiff William J. Vajk,
pro se, and complains under the Freedom of
Information Act, Act 442 of 1976, MCL 15.231
et seq, hereinafter referred to as Act 442,
and common law, as follows:

2) This court has jurisdiction.

3) Plaintiff made a multiple Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) requests that he
personally served on the office of the
Clerk in the City of Iron River on
December 1, 2008. A copy of that request
is provided in Exhibit A.

4) The ensuing email interchange, including
attachments, is provided in Exhibit B.

5) Plaintiff thus came to discover one
aspect of the City of Iron River's "Pay
to Play" illegal gambit that wantonly
violates Act 442, common law fraud, and
common law extortion, as follows:

A) Plaintiff asked that the basis of the
"unreasonably high costs to the City"
part of the forms provided by the City,
Exhibit B pg. 4-7, be disclosed. Failure
or refusal to disclose this information
is a violation of Act 442.

B) Plaintiff was met with silence. The
pertinent part of Act 442, Sec. 4 (3)
states in part:

"A fee shall not be charged for the
cost of search, examination, review, and
the deletion and separation of exempt
from nonexempt information as provided
in section 14 unless failure to charge a
fee would result in unreasonably high
costs to the public body because of the
nature of the request in the particular
instance, and the public body specifically
identifies the nature of these unreasonably
high costs."

C) Defendant Archocosky has steadfastly
refused to provide this information and
has also refused to abandon the City's
demand for payment of the illegally
constituted fees. Since there is a well
established statutory requirement that
the named Defendant knew or should have
known, that the requested information be
provided without fees unless "unreasonably
high costs" are extant, identifiable, and
disclosed, the demand for payment is a
violation of Act 442 as well as both common
law fraud and common law extortion.

D) Given the circumstances of this case,
wherein the public body withholds requested
information for the sake of collecting an
illegally constructed fee, that the Defendant
knew or should have known to violate Act 442,
wherein the charge violates the clear
mandates of Act 442, imposition constitutes
a constructive denial of providing the
requested information in a timely manner.

E) The demanded fee of $38.46 is, on its
face, absurd and cannot be supported as
"unreasonably high" under any definition
of the words of the statute. Plaintiff's
reading of all reported and unreported
opinions relating to Act 442 to be found
on the Michigan courts web page finds that
each upholds the letter of the law as
spelled out in the italicized text above
with no allowances, alterations, or
modifications authorized by case law.

F) As the first example of patent
absurdity, the "Wastemanagement Contract,"
a document reported to be 4 pages long,
has a 1/4 hour charge associated with it
at a fee demand to Plaintiff of $10.53.
The City had the document in hand to
determine that it is 4 pages long. The
City has demonstrated that there is no
additional research necessary. The
document is one that is subject to
public scrutiny as it stands without
"review, deletion, separation of exempt
from non-exempt information" that might
suggest some, or any, reason for demanding
a labor fee. Thus it cannot meet the
relevant "unreasonable" test. Any city
employee that spends as long as 15
minutes on this item is in serious
need of being fired as is any supervisor
permitting such incompetence or reticence
to perform ordinary office job functions
in a timely fashion.

G) The balance of the requested documents,
while larger, all represent similar
circumstances. Labor for the act of
copying is built into the per page charge,
leaving no additional labor charge that
can ever be considered "unreasonably high."

6) As shown in Exhibit C, Plaintiff filed
an FOIA Appeal in this instance issued to
the named defendant John Archocosky since
the city failed at every opportunity to
comply with Act 442 by failing to
identify the "head of the public body"
in their responses to Plaintiff's
requests. Please take notice that
defendant Archocosky insisted that all
future FOIA requests from me be
addressed to him. The statement is in
Exhibit B pg 1. To demonstrate to the
Court the City of Iron River's routine
practice of omitting the required
statutory language divulging the
correct addressees for appeal and
litigation information mandated by
Act 442, Plaintiff has included
another FOIA reply in Exhibit D.
This example is the only completed
FOIA response from the City of Iron
River to Plaintiff, and it too fails
to comply with the requirements of
Act 442 in the above stated regards,
specifically Sec. 5. (3)(d).

7) Since John Archocosky, the City
Manager for the City of Iron River,
asserted control over this and all
future FOIA requests, and in the
absence of any additional information
directing this complaint elsewhere,
Plaintiff had no option but to name
Archocosky as the defendant in this

A) Plaintiff had and has no reason to
question Defendant Archocosky's
asserting control over FOIA requests
from this Plaintiff. Defendant John
Archocosky is, and was, the City
Manager of the City of Iron River
at all pertinent times.

B) A courtesy "FOIA appeal" went to
Archocosky. Mr. Archocosky failed to
respond to the aforementioned appeal
during the 10 days allowed by Act 442.
Even on the off chance that the City
had some legitimate reason for
believing the fees demanded to be
legitimate, Defendant Archocosky
failed to comply with Act 442 by
divulging such reasons as required
by Act 442 despite a specific request
by Plaintiff that he do so. Please
see Exhibit C pg. 1-2.

C) Plaintiff was not required by Act 442
to appeal the fees to the City before
taking further action. Plaintiff could
have proceeded directly to suit, but
wrote an appeal as a courtesy to
Mr. Archocosky and the City of Iron
River and in a failed attempt to avoid
the need for this litigation. In addition,
Plaintiff sent a copy of the final email
not only to the named defendant, but also
to the Clerk of the City of Iron River,
and the Mayor of Iron River, as a
courtesy to notify everyone working on
behalf of the City of Iron River possibly
interested in the issues a notice of the
pendency of this action. Please see
Exhibit C.

D) Plaintiff was forced to the conclusion
that Defendant Archocosky and the other
addressees prefer resolution of the fee
issue through litigation, and so here we

8) Defendant Archocosky had, at all
relevant times, the authority and control
over the City's decision(s) regarding fees
to be charged while responding to FOIA
requests. If he does or did not, he had
only to divulge another person to whom
the request(s) might have been directed.
Defendant Archocosky has earned the
exclusive right, by his own actions, to
represent the city as the sole defendant
in the immediate cause.

9) It is thus clear that after
notification of a violation of Act 442
and common law, Defendant Archocosky's
actions, and the pertinent lack thereof,
under the color of his office, meet the
criteria for punitive damages.

10) Plaintiff asks the court to ignore
the smallness of the amount at the core
of this case. It is the repetitive routine
violations of state law by the City of
Iron River that is the significant problem
for which this case is the first of several
others currently in work. Indeed, the
information requested under the FOIA at the
core of this case is relevant to background
information necessary to develop the
complaints for one or more such class action
cases. Invoices representing city billings
against property owners in Iron River will
soon be sought using FOIA requests. Defendant
Archocosky and the City of Iron River are
aware that those previously promised lawsuits
will be brought soon as memorialized in the
minutes of the City Council meeting of
15 October 2008 as follows: "Tousignant will
contact MML concerning possible litigation."
Unreported in the minutes is the actual
mention of Plaintiff's name, at the meeting,
in these regards.

11) Plaintiff also publishes reports relating
to his activism on behalf of the community on
the internet at

ISSN registration request has been filed.

12) As a consequence, the records requested
by Plaintiff should be deemed to "be in the
public interest" as defined in MCL 15.234,
Sec. 4. (1) of act 442.

Therefore, Plaintiff respectfully requests
this Court enter the following judgments:

A) The City of Iron River shall be ordered
to provide the information requested in the
pertinent FOIA request at the core of this
case at a cost to Plaintiff consisting only
of the standard copying costs of 25 cents
per page.

B) The City of Iron River shall be ordered
to pay Plaintiff's costs in this action.

C) That this Court find that the City of
Iron River has arbitrarily and capriciously
violated Act 442 and order the City to pay
to Plaintiff the maximum punitive damages
allowed by Act 442.

D) That the Court permanently enjoin the
City of Iron River from routinely demanding
payment of small amounts for information to
be provided under the FOIA where
justification of "unreasonably high costs"
is not legitimately established and
articulated. Plaintiff is asking the Court
to prevent the need for repeating this
lawsuit with the same City defendant for
the same reason when additional different
FOIA requests are being processed in the

E) That all future FOIA requests from this
Plaintiff, when accompanied by a
certification that his work is in the
interest of the public good be provided in
compliance with Act 442 Sec. 4. (1), at no
cost to the undersigned Plaintiff.

Respectfully submitted


The undersigned William J. Vajk, being duly
sworn, certifies under the penalties of
perjury that the information provided in
this complaint and attached Exhibits is

William J. Vajk

Sworn and subscribed to before me on the
________________ day of _____________, 2008.

Notary Public

My Commission expires ____________________________

Monday, December 22, 2008

Constructive Quorum in Michigan

I've been to some, not very many, meetings
of public bodies here in Iron County, Michigan.

It always seemed to me that the members of
the various boards and councils got through
their business rather quickly, and often a
motion was brought, and carried on voice
vote, with infrequent dissent.

Aha, I thought, they've discussed their issues
and hammered them out beforehand....that
ought to be illegal under the Open Meetings

My recent research found that it is. It is
called a constructive quorum, where members
of the controlling organ of a public body
discuss an issue serially in order to, they
seem to believe, thwart the intent of the
Open Meetings Act without actually violating
the law. Well they're simply wrong. It is
a violation.

There's the case of Marquette City Attorney
Bonnie L. Hoff in which the following classic
text is provided in the unpublished opinion:

"[I]t is clear from the various exhibits
submitted by the parties . . . , specific-
ally including the Affidavits of
Commissioners Spoelstra and Kensington,
that the same type of Open Meetings Act
violation found by the Court in Booth
Newspapers v University of Michigan
Board of Regents, may well have
occurred during the private “get
togethers” between various subgroups
of the Marquette City Commission that
each involved, admittedly, less than
a quorum of the Board. Such a
conclusion . . . is supported by
the fact that the Board terminated
the contact of one of the two highest
City employees, Ms. Hoff, the City
Attorney, at the January 31, 2005,
city commission meeting without a
whit of discussion and with no stated
reason. Even the most naïve and
trusting observer would conclude that
something more than an exchange of
pleasantries, which involved the
topic of Attorney Hoff’s termination,
took place at the non-public
subgroup meetings. [Emphasis in

"Similarly, in Booth Newspapers, Inc
v Univ of Mich Board of Regents, the
defendant board established subquorum
committees that engaged in telephone
calls and small group meetings. This
Court found it significant that the
acknowledged purpose of these subquorum
committees was to engage in the same
intercommunications that could only
have been achieved in a full meeting
of the board. According to this Court,
“The subquorum groups were utilized
or designed to avoid the OMA, and
therefore, they constituted a
constructive quorum[.]” Therefore,
this Court held that, because the
board “deliberately divided itself
into subquorum groups to deliberate
on public policy, in direct
circumvention of the OMA’s objective
of promoting openness and
accountability in government,” the
OMA applied."

By reading the entire opinion and the
footnotes one discovers that this
problem has been repeatedly been before
the courts, and that in most cases the
courts have held that the subquorum
meetings were illegal.

The problem here in Iron County is that
not only do we not have enough of the
public involved in the meetings, but also
that our public is mostly apathetic when
it comes to letting illegal conduct slide.

Posted by Bill Vajk

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Agenda for Change -- Chapter 1

I recently started promoting the following
concepts as part of a basis for making
changes to how business is done in
Michigan, and particularly in Iron County.

Publicly Funded non-government entities:

All publicly funded non governmental entities
shall have a mission statement expressed in
measurable objectives.

All publicly funded non governmental entities
shall provide a published publicly available
annual (or more frequent) report that provides
detailed information that includes their annual
budget as well as the cost allocations to each
measurable mission and their performance for
each measurable parameter in simple,
understandable, terms.

Economic Development:

Every publicly subsidized economic development
initiative shall meet the following requirements:

1) Where vehicles are involved in the assisted
business enterprise, the target enterprise shall
agree to purchase all fuel (for locally based
vehicles) within the county providing assistance
and shall permit themselves to be audited by
state, county, or municipal authorities or their

2) The number of new or retained jobs shall only
be counted if they are full time (minimum 40
hours a week, 52 weeks every year) with fringe
benefits including group health insurance, in
the same group for all employees and management,
for the employee (and family through payroll
deduction,) paid vacation of 1 week per year,
five paid sick days per year, and no less than
6 paid holidays each year. Any employment not
including at least these benefits as a minimum
shall not be included in any "job count"
resulting from such an economic development

3) The job count of new or retained jobs shall
only include jobs in direct employment by the
assisted enterprise.

4) New and/or retained jobs subsidized in any
way by public funds shall only be available to
permanent Michigan residents. Non residents may
be hired but may not start work or receive
payroll or other funds until the individual
is a permanent resident of this state.

5) All publicly assisted businesses shall
bank exclusively in Michigan.

6) All publicly assisted businesses shall be
incorporated in Michigan. This requirement
precludes registration in Michigan as a
foreign corporation.

7) No assisted enterprise shall be provided
with real estate at public expense at a rent
less than fair market value.

8) Assisted enterprises may not utilize
employees or contractors not comporting with
§ 2 above in a quantity greater than 5 % of
the total number of jobs comporting with
§ 2 above.

Open Meetings & the right of petition:

Brother Samaha's paper
The Declaration of Human Rights
very nicely traces that history for us. I find
the "right of petition" documented in Article 61
of the Magna Carta of 1215. The paper by
The Online Library of Liberty traces some
of the weaving and wobbling in settling just
what the "right" is. What is clear from all
this history is that we can consider ourselves
fortunate that the Founding Fathers were very
well read.

Through this winding history we arrive to the
First Amendment to the US Constitution with
its "petition the government".

During the late 1800's, an ancestral uncle of
mine, James G. Blaine, wrote about the fact
that during the hundred years or so that the
US had been independent, the mistakes of the
past were starting to be repeated. "So slowly
turn the mills of the gods." The country was
slowly but surely returning to the despicable
British practices that formed the basis of
the American Revolution.

We see similar erosions creeping in here in
Michigan presently.

Former Attorney General's Frank J. Kelley's
opinion number 5716 quotes the Open Meetings
Act as containing the statement, "These rules
must be reasonable, flexible and designed to
encourage public expression and not discourage
or prohibit it." The same paragraph today only
requires that "A person shall be permitted to
address a meeting of a public body under rules
established and recorded by the public body"
and other procedural requirements.

The entire basis for the open meetings act has
been stripped in this erosion. Today we have a
townships organization that is teaching Michigan
township boards that "There is no constitutional
or First Amendment right to open meetings." Where
and how else can the citizen be assured that
his 1st amendment right to petition the
government is assured?

We are presently seeing restrictive rules that
clearly violate the first amendment. For example,
the Iron County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has
rules that limit public comment to agenda items
and limit the total time to 20 minutes which
effectively denies a citizen of his right to
petition if there are issues to be discussed
that have the general population upset. The
restrictive nature of the BOC rule stands in
clear violation of "Congress shall make no
law ....or petition the
government for a redress of grievances" as
brought to the states by the 14th Amendment.

There was a newspaper report earlier this
year that one of the City Council members
in Iron Mountain felt that when the council
was in session "it is our meeting" and
comments should be restricted or prohibited.
Such attitudes are absurd.

My request for new legislation is that we
return to the ideology that the meetings are
designed to encourage participation by the
citizens interested in doing so.

I request the following elements be made
part of the Open Meetings Act:

The agenda for an open meeting shall be
locked in and published concurrently with
the meeting notice.

At least 120 hours shall elapse between
the publication of the agenda and a
meeting notice and the meeting to which
those documents refer.

No new agenda items may be added at
the time of the meeting.

Whenever a motion is made, followed by
discussion, specific public comment on
that item must be permitted before a
vote is taken.

General public comment on any matter
must be heard at some point during
the meeting.

It is critical that we, as a state, revert
to citizen participation in government at
every level. That begins at the local level.
If we can't get that right, the rest of the
schema falls apart.

The above is the first foray into revising how
business needs to be done here in Iron County
and hopefully in the state.

The concepts above are put forth and supported
by their author, Bill Vajk.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The War on Christmas (continued)

There's a funny thing about history. It
changes things. Religion is evolutionary.
If it weren't, Christianity itself would
never have happened and things like
the Council at Nicea, the Second
Vatican Council, and the Reformation,
each introducing major changes to
one or more branches of modern
Christianity, could never altered the
world as they did.

So those folks who pry up a lot of
recorded, unrecorded, and anachdotal
history appear, to me, to be finding
excuses for taking over what was a
pretty nice idea, gutting it of the meaning
and intention of those who invented
it. To add insult to injury, they work
hard to completely secularize it. This
worked pretty well with the
Thanksgiving holiday, and now
they're back for more.

Pretty soon they'll be attacking
Easter and commercializing that
as well.

I have news for them. So long as I
own a hunk of Thanksgiving,
Christmas, and Easter, the religious
basis for the holidays will remain in
effect. One thing we Christians have
learned through the ages is tolerance.
Whatever those lacking soul want to
do in those periods is their business.
I'll maintain my family traditions, no
matter when they were invented. And
I'll speak out against the grinches who
can't stand for my family to enjoy
these religious holidays in the fashion
to which we've become accustomed.

The one thing I won't do is be quiet
about it.

Bill Vajk
P.S. The above was initially written
in response to a secular progressive
article elsewhere.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to this Forum

A funny thing happened on the way to this forum.

I introduced an Iron County Democrat to the contents
of the article immediately below, the one called
Energize!!! And it turns out that some Democratic
reformers aren't reformers at all when it includes any
threat at all to the power currently held by the
Democratic Party. It seems to me that unthinking and
unflinching religious loyalty of childhood is very easily
replaced by an identical unthinking and unflinching
loyalty to a political party as an adult. Religion
promises after death rewards, political parties
promise "power right now." I guess I can understand
a now instead of later mentality, even if the now
rewards are short and the later rewards are

It's like this. Michigan Democrats (generally) lamely
work towards stamping out corruption in the county
so long as the party itself, and their individual power
and collective power isn't at risk.

So the underlying question is the most important one
of all. What will it take to get people to pull out all the
stops and root out corruption by any means, and in
the end let the chips fall where they may. Having a
strong political party of any persuasion is completely
worthless so long as that political party fails to serve
the needs of the people under all circumstances.

In the circumstances we presently have in Iron
County Michigan I'd like nothing better than to
abolish the Democrats, the Republicans, and the
Libertarians, and replace them with three brand
new parties and brand new hierarchies. We would
do far better with three new parties regardless of
their names, even if we call them rock, paper, and
scissors. At least there would be interplay and
something worthwhile could happen in Iron
County instead of the private interests that are
presently being served exclusively.

Realistically we know that can't happen in the present
political economic climate. So we need to work
together to have 3 strong parties competing with
one another, regardless of the fear this instills
in some Democrats.

Today I realized that I am living in a community filled
with characters resembling those well described in
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. If you're not
familiar with that work I highly recommend it for
reading. Generally speaking, nothing is quite as it
would seem to be if you scratch just a bit below the
surface. Just like Iron County. Chaucer died more
than 500 years ago.

The more things change, they more they stay the

Bill Vajk

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Moving from the Chicago area to Iron County Michigan
was very much like moving from the United States of
America to some other nation where the government
mostly does as they wish regardless of what the
law has to say about their activities.

Every time I look at why something in the county
is dysfunctional I find I have to take another
step backwards and understand that the most
elementary political necessities aren't in place!

When I moved into the subdivision I lived in
back in Illinois, within a few weeks we were
approached, in person, by the township supervisor
who always carried with her some blank voter
registration cards. I filled mine out at home
and advised her that my wife was in the local
hospital recovering from a really bad allergic
reaction to pears from a tree in the back yard
of our new home. The supervisor went from my
home straight to the hospital and signed up my
wife Gloria.

Now I realize that the model I am discussing
doesn't exist in very many places, but the fact
is that it does exist. I lived in a community
that wanted full participation by all the
citizens in government, and worked hard to
get, and keep, people involved. Once they
got started, it was a very easy thing
to keep doing!

I moved my home from Illinois to Iron County
in the 4th quarter of 2003. In the time
between then and now all I've ever really
heard about is the Democratic Party, with
an occasional reference to the Libertarians,
and now and again someone running for local
office on a Republican ticket.

The entire basis of our democratic form of
government depends on the simple fact that
there are opposing political parties with
people from each running for public office.
It seems to work well in the rest of the
US however there is nothing like that here
in Iron County.

The only way to assure honesty in local
government is to have people not only
watching over our elected officials, but
also challenging them at every election.
Iron County seems to have what was for
years called the "Let George do it!"
attitude. That's what happened with the
rodeo, and seems to rule how folks in the
county deal with almost everything in the
county. Throw money at any problem and make
it go away.

The only problem with that is that where
it comes to the insidious sorts of corruption
we're experiencing here in Iron County,
throwing money at it doesn't provide any
solution, ever. In fact throwing money at
that sort of problem only makes things
worse. It makes local politicos even more

If you are a Republican or a Libertarian
who is not satisfied with the way things
are in the county, please contact me at and tell me that you'd
like to participate in making the kinds
of change that make life better for all
of us. I'll make certain your voices are
heard and that the now dormant political
parties are energized and that they take
a hand in the future of our county. Give
me a contact name and address and I'll
bring attention of our plight at the state
and national levels of the respective parties.

Apathy is your worse enemy, and mine.

Posted by Bill Vajk

Monday, December 1, 2008

New FOIA request to the City of Iron River

In developing the scope of my legal complaints against
the City of Iron River (and others) I feel it is
prudent to develop some of the information before the
complaints are filed with the courts. In the usual
process a complaint is first filed, information
developed through a process called "discovery" and
then, if necessary, the complaint is amended. I prefer
to go in with all guns blazing from the first minute.


William J. Vajk
Iron River MI 49935
1 December 2008

City of Iron River
106 W. Genesee Street
Iron River MI 49935

Subject: FOIA requests, multiple

1) Please provide unredacted copies of all invoices
issued by the city to property owners in the year
2008 relating to Ordinance 13, Noxious Weed Removal.

2) Please provide unredacted payroll records for such
personnel as were involved in the direct labor charged
in the aforementioned invoices. Payroll information is
requested only for the period(s) during which work
relevant to the aforementioned item took place and
only for personnel actually engaged in the mowing

3) Please provide a copy of the "accurate account of
the expenses" the city claims were involved, such
records the responsibility of the Public Works Foreman
under section 91.32 of the Iron River ordinances. Please
provide a copy of the pertinent affidavit or affirmation
relevant to said accounting when it was delivered to
the city clerk.

4) Please provide a copy of the purchase order(s) for
equipment used by the city of Iron River mowing on
citizen's properties as billed in Item #1, above.
Please provide copies of purchase orders for similar
equipment in the possession of the City but not used
for the purpose covered by the items in this FOIA.

5) Please provide a copy of the existing contract
between the City of Iron River and Waste Management
relating to garbage collection and disposal for
residential addresses in the City of Iron River.

Please collect these records and documents and
call the undersigned at 906-265-XXXX when they
are complete or, in the alternative, send an
email to advising that the
information is ready. I will, within a reasonable
time, attend the City's offices to pay for copies
and to personally collect the requested paperwork.

To save time and postage, the 10 day extension
described in the FOIA is granted herewith.


Posted by Bill Vajk

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Iron River late charges FOIA response

The FOIA about water bill late charges arrived.

"A review of the City's records and documents has not
produced any records or documents related to the
determination as to the late payment charges on
water bills and the components comprising the water
bill, including the readiness to serve charges."

[signed] Kathy L, Anderson, City Clerk

This article written by:
Bill Vajk

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iron River's illegal late payment charges

Letter mailed today:

William J. Vajk
Iron River MI 49935
18 November 2008

Suzanne A. Johnson, treasurer
City of Iron River
106 W Genesee St.
Iron River MI 49935

Subject: Freedom of Information Act Request:

Dear Ms. Johnson:

1: Under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act please provide any documentation and records relevant to how the determination was made that the late payment charge on water bills, approximating 314% per annum, is related to the actual costs occasioned by late customer payments.

2: Under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act please provide any documentation and records relevant to how the determination was made that the late payment charge on water bills, approximating 314% per annum, is related to the actual costs occasioned by late customer payments specifically relevant to the city's "readiness to serve" charges.



Here's how it works. They add on 10% of the unpaid amount
every month. For a Readiness to Serve charge here's how the
numbers look for a year starting with an unpaid $25 and
adding 10% each month to the charge:

0 25
1 27.5
2 30.25
3 33.275
4 36.6025
5 40.26275
6 44.289025
7 48.7179275
8 53.58972025
9 58.948692275
10 64.8435615025
11 71.32791765275
12 78.460709418025

(Calculations using Visual FoxPro.)

At the end of a year, that original $ 25 has grown to $ 78.46.

78.46 divided by the original $25 yields 3.138428376721
or 314% per year compounded monthly!

Please consider that the "Readiness to Serve" charge has no
attributable expense to the city since they are providing
no services or commodity in exchange for that money. They're
charging something for nothing and then charging late fees
if that's not paid on time.

Wow! How can I get some of this action?

I have to wonder what sort of an answer "The Reporter" would
get from the city for "simply asking." Oops, I just hurt myself

The above is the activism of Bill Vajk

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Freedom of Information Act and the Iron County Reporter

The Iron County Reporter recently published an
editorial concerning the use of the Freedom Of
Information law by citizens seeking information
from the government of Iron County . This brought
several questions to mind.

Which Iron County employee complained?

We heard NO comments from the State of Michigan
or the Federal agencies that were FOIA'd. To my
knowledge the Iron County Reporter NEVER used
the FOIA. They are great at running Press Releases,
Bridge game scores, and Birth announcements. But
then again these require NO imagination or
research. So-called reporters report almost
verbatim about the meetings they attend, and
never ask any questions of the officeholders as
to the reasons for their actions or positions.

The Macomb Daily recently ran a story based on
a report by a committee appointed by the State
Legislators entitled "Are Lawmakers Law Breakers?"

Their report deals with the state legislators
violating the Headlee Amendment. This info could
not have been gathered without the use of the

I have heard and seen citizens being told when
they ask a question, by the county officials,
"If you knew what we know you'd understand!"

But they NEVER tell you what they know ! ! !

The above is the opinion and activism of
Ben Smith in Iron River, Michigan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An Open Letter to John Faccin:

You are about to run headfirst into the Michigan
constitution's Headlee amendment with your latest
proposal which will have the effect of ingratiating
yourself to the Iron County Board.

From Iron County Reporter 21 October 2008:

"Faccin thought the boat wash and road improvements
would have to be bid out. The boat launch entrance
would be moved from County Road 424 into Pentoga
Park, so boaters have to pay a fee to get onto
the lake."

This is clearly a money raising scheme, in short,
a tax on lake use.

I urge you to educate yourself before making any
further such suggestions by reading:

There is a plethora of online material about the
Headlee Amendment. Please avail yourself of it.

It is clear that the scheme is designed to collect
a fee in order to raise money for the use of a
lake that presently acquires no income for the
county. That clearly violates the Headlee
Amendment and I will fight this. You're effectively
driving boaters away from Iron County.

Before you even think about mentioning Eurasian
watermilfoil control you might want to determine
some way of controlling the use of our lakes by
water fowl and curtailing bald eagle fishing.
Obviously those are impossible tasks.

The above is the opinion and activism of
Bill Vajk

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rodeo Roundup

The October 8, 2008 issue of The Iron County Reporter has an article on Page 1 that requested ideas. A meeting was organized for tonight, 13 October 2008, at Iron River City Hall. I did not attend that meeting but I met Todd Laturi, president of the Rodeo Board, and provided him with 30 copies of a 3 page paper of suggestions for the Rodeo.

That paper is available at

The final paragraph of my paper reads:

"I cannot implement these plans for the community. Indeed, I have committed to suing the City of Iron River relating to constitutional issues in the city's creation and enforcement of chapter 52 (water) and chapter 91 (nuisances) of their municipal ordinances. That activity is a harsh mistress that is taking up all my spare time and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
Bill Vajk

Friday, October 3, 2008

"Shadow Man" busted

There are some readers of these blogs who also frequent
a sometimes free for all disguised as a Yahoo discussion
group called IronCountyWatch.

For some time a member posting under the pseudonym
"Shadow Man" has been playing games with other
members; sometimes not very nice games. Indeed
in the past day or so this individual lashed out at
Ben Smith, a gentleman with whom I disagree on many
points but nevertheless I can safely say that we remain
friends despite our opposing viewpoints because even
with all that there remain many points of commonality.

Because I had asked Ben to post a particular opinion
editorial from my other blog,

he had emailed me a few of the responses. Among the
responses were a couple from "Shadow Man."

Given the content of those, "Shadow Man" might just
as well have signed with a legal name because the content
was as positively identifying as any signature.

Should you read this, "Shadow Man," you made another
mistake. In most of history it has been correct to refer to
"the King's English," however, whenever there is a
queen regnant (this time since February of 1952) of the
United Kingdom, the correct reference is to "the Queen's

Having a female monarch in charge is not such a rare
event. Please see:

To readers not involved with the IronCountyWatch,
I offer my apology for this minor distraction.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chamber of Commerce recommendations

Last year I was permitted to address the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. I presented a number of new ideas. I haven't seen any of the implemented as offered. It is interesting that Angeli's at least has been issuing coupons for cents off for gasoline purchased at the Holiday Gas Station in Iron River.

Outline for Bill Vajk's discussion with the
Board of Directors of the
Iron County Chamber of Commerce
on 28 June 2007

TITLE:Economic Recovery Initiatives for Iron County:

Improve Tourism:

On December 4, 2006, I first presented a trolley system plan for Iron River combined with a Children's Railway to the City of Iron River. Attached is a very recent reply from Michigan Technical University offering their participation in all phases of a trolley project which is designed to attract tourism as well as provide local transportation for our residents. Details can be found at If you need more information or printed copies of the pertinent materials please contact me. I ask this board as well as the entire merchant population to pressure the Iron River City Council to undertake this initiative.

Dan Baumgartner prepared a map for a proposed transportation system including other towns in Iron County. Personally I think it is a good idea. I will put a copy of Dan's map on the web page listed above in the next few days.

Assist New Startups in Iron County:

It is clear that new startups have a very difficult time financially. As a businessman I urge the Iron County Chamber of Commerce to extend the first year of membership in the Chamber free to new startups. This should help new startups integrate into the business community by welcoming them without financial pain to either the Chamber of the new business. My current business in Iron County is over a year old and would not qualify for a free membership, nor do I ask this for myself.

Recapture Local Resident Sales:

There are two distinct aspects involved.

First-- Dissatisfaction:

I have had some significantly bad experiences with local service businesses. I will briefly describe one of them that had to do with automobile service. I left a Jeep with a local shop for several weeks while they tried to figure out why the engine would arbitrarily stop running even at highway speeds, leaving me without power steering and power brakes, a dangerous situation.

The day came that they said it is fixed, come pick it up. I paid their fees and drove it towards home.

I live about 8 miles west of town. The car quit seven miles out and refused to start again. It had always restarted before.

I called the shop and had them tow it in to be fixed. I had already spent $600 on fixing a problem that had not yet been fixed. They changed out a few more parts to the tune of another $200. I was completely aghast because when I picked up the vehicle they charged me for the tow. They refused to stand behind their work.

Not only that, but the problem was still not fixed.

I hate to work on cars. But I bought a $76 part, replaced it, and finally fixed the problem myself.

Needless to say, I take all my automotive work out of town now, despite the fact that there are plenty of businesses around Iron County doing this work.

The solution to such flight of business based on bad experience is to create our own Better Business Bureau to handle such complaints. I urge the Chamber of Commerce to create and operate such an entity in order to provide assurances to residents that complaints against local businesses will be addressed fairly and impartially without having to resort to hiring an attorney to institute civil suit.

Second-- Pricing:

It is obvious that merchants in Iron County cannot roll back prices to compete with the Big Box competition 6o miles and further away. However, with a bit if creative marketing the Chamber should be able to roll back some of the purchase dollars that flee Iron County by capturing the imagination of a significant segment of the local population.

I give as an example some of the wildly popular fads that happened during my lifetime. Let's start with something completely useless, the "pet rock." It was just a rock with a cute set of instructions that captured the imagination of the American public. It was completely useless. Not so useless but also wildly popular were Davie Crockett outfits, hula hoops, anodized aluminum tumblers, and a myriad of others.

I recommend what I am calling "The Chamber Card."

The card could be issued looking like a credit card. The purpose is to get a 2% discount at participating Chamber businesses. The money would not be a cash discount, but would be placed, at the time of the purchase transaction into an account in the user's name. The money would accumulate through the year and be available only for purchases from participating merchants between November 15 and the end of the year. Any money remaining in the account would roll over into the next year.

The account would draw no interest. The interest that that money earns would be used to offset the management expenses experienced with whichever bank provides the relevant services.

The purpose of this initiative is to convince local residents to buy from Iron County merchants instead of going out of town. The 2% reduction in price that the merchant experiences will be offset by increased sales resulting from this program. It will also serve to retain Christmas sales in the county instead of having people go elsewhere.
If you prefer, this card could be called the Iron County Christmas Club.

There is already a 2% discount available to anyone who purchases gasoline at the Holiday gas station in Iron River (or anywhere else, for that matter.) Holiday accepts Menards cards. Menards offers a 2% discount on all purchases on their cards, redeemable by purchase at any Menards store. This new initiative would allow other petroleum retailers to compete with Holiday while having the greater advantage of being able to spend the proceeds at any participating merchant.

Frankly, like the man or hate him, what works for the entrepreneur John Menard can work even better for Iron County.

Success won't attack you...or...grab your own chestnuts!

Well there was one more round left in the rodeo discussion
on the WLUCTV6 web page:


TITLE:All talk no show!

Posted by Annie Johnson, Currently CO, orginally from Amasa -
Monday, September 22, 2008 at 10:46 a.m.

First off myself and others don't give a hoot about what
Donald Trump does or think. How about what he SHOULD do?
The greedy man doesnt give enuf to charity as far as I'm
concerned, but thats not the issue here.

Has it ever occured to you Mr. whoever you are the
ecomomy is in the toilet right now and has been for
a long time?

Even if your point is true about advertising I don't
think it's going to convince most of the middle
class to dig out the little bit of money they have
to come to a Rodeo thats always been considered
"small". Where do think you are?

If you think you can do a better job then stop the
talk and so call walk the walk!

I'm proud our little town of a few thousand if that
even HAS a rodeo to begin with. Our little town has
many fun activities going on all the time. So like

I said if you don't like it do something about it.

We all stick together in this town whether we like
each other or not, and you sir will not win this
arguement unless you volunteer your time.


TITLE: Success will not attack you

Posted by Bill Vajk, Iron River -
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 2:17 p.m.

The economy is not, as "Annie Johnson" (an historic
name well known in Amasa) states. The Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) grew by 3.3% in the second quarter of
2008. On an annualized basis that's 13.9%, a hefty
growth for our economy. Please see:

Also Ms. Johnson is mistaken about the middle class,
which, extending to about $250,000 annual income
according to Senator Obama, mostly doesn't need to
scrape together vacation money. I moved to Iron
County after having lived in the middle class setting
in the Chicago area from 1974 to 2003 when I made my
decision to move here permanently.

I can personally assure you that much of the middle
class is looking for new (to them) forms of
entertainment and has the money to indulge

What is important to this discussion is that I have
already provided a blueprint for success for the UP
Rodeo. Surely you mustn't think the members of the
existing board incapable of carrying out a simple
plan, or do you? In fact, in this discussion I am
the only one who has actually provided any ideas
that can save the rodeo from folding. One participant
in the discussion was concerned only about animal
rights/cruelty. Three of you have only attacked the
messenger without providing any helpful input.

An important consideration that just recently came
to my attention is that Wisconsin has cut back to
three (count em, 3) Buffington rodeos for 2008. In
fact the Wisconsin Rodeo Cowboys Association has

What this means is less competition for the UP Rodeo
and a larger potential audience available to come to
Iron River. It is the job of our community to grow
the rodeo large enough to entice them to visit us.

I have volunteered already by providing, in public
forums, the solution to saving the UP Rodeo. I have
continued not by, as you accuse, arguing, but by
providing a continuing positive reinforcement for
workable ideas. None of the 4 people responding
directly to me has managed to stay on topic.

Each of you has attempted to change this from a
discussion about the rodeo into a discussion about
me. Sorry to disappoint, but I refuse to be
distracted. It is a mindset that I am working on
changing in Iron County. This is the old story of
teaching people how to fish instead of merely
catching a fish for them. I feel it prudent to advise
you that this Rodeo discussion is only one relatively
small part of the activism I'm engaged in for the
betterment of Iron County.

In closing I want to briefly discuss an old personal
motivation paradigm usually named "Where will
you be in 5 years." Type it, in quotes, into your
search engine. The recurring central theme goes
something like this:

"You can be assured that success will not attack
you nor will you stumble across it by accident.
What your future will hold for you is the result
of a plan and begins with a decision concerning
what you would like for it to hold for you."

So it is not for me to come along and pull the
county's chestnuts out of the fire. Rather it is my
function to help the people of the county to pull
their own chestnuts out of the fire, and that I have
been doing for some time now. I've provided the
equivalent of several pairs of long tongs. Now
go get those chestnuts yourselves.
Bill Vajk, aka "Mr. Whoever You Are"


The more I think about this exchange with John Faccin,
Wendy Otto-Shimun, and the latest "Annie Johnson" the
more spoiled these people seem to be. Instead of accepting
suggestions and working to help themselves they repeatedly
insist that whoever does have an idea do all the work for
them. They don't seem to want to lift a finger to improve
the situation they've been living in all their lives and
they seem resentful that someone not of their little
circle who offers up any ideas.

I guess the sorts of carry on they've demonstrated in
this rodeo discussion intimidated people in the past
and got them to back down. Also see John Faccin's
personal attacks elsewhere in this blog.

They need to get used to people who aren't afraid of
their nonsensical personal attacks. More of us are
coming! Development has jumped the border from
Wisconsin into Iron County. In particular they need
to get used to the idea that they better have something
worth considering because their old time junkyard dog
tactics just aren't going to work any longer.

The above is the opinion and activism of Bill Vajk

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Revisiting the trolley proposal

The recent railway accident in California has placed
the shortage of formal training facilities for railway
operations into the public spotlight. The trolley
system I proposed had, as a key element, just such
a school. Please consider how close we could be to
being operational had I been able to convince Iron
River officials of the viability of that trolley

As I envisioned it, the system would have single
and dual track, waiting for bypass, signals,
multiple stations, scheduling, and centralized
operational management, all in all a miniature
duplication of a main line railway system.

The original proposal remains available at

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the deeper you dig, the more interesting things get

Please start here, with the corporation registration:


At view document images the last 10 years worth of annual
reports to the state are available for viewing. It is a tight
little group of people.


Monday, September 15, 2008

honest participation -- rodeo wrap up?

Right on cue, Wendy Otto-Shimun came through with
what she claims is the final episode to this saga.
We'll see where she rears her head again. This was
posted on WLUC's we page under letters to the
editor. My reply, submitted on 9/15, follows.


Title: Obviously you cant get through to some people.

Posted by Wendy Otto-Shimun, Iron River - Sunday,
September 14, 2008 at 1:54 p.m.

This will be the last time I will be dignifying your
letters with a response, as I have more important
things to do than argue my point with someone like you.

It just so happens that I work for WIKB. Since the
day I started, I have covered the rodeo board
meetings and have written news stories regarding
what occurred at those meetings and they have been
aired on the news. I would also like to point out
that the dates and times of rodeo board meetings
have been listed, along with every other meeting
in the county, in the Reporter's schedule of
meetings. They have also been mentioned at the
end of every news story I have written on the
rodeo, along with the comment that the public
is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Once again your information is incorrect.
But I am not surprised.

I realize that you must have nothing better to
do than spread falsehoods about what is going
on within the rodeo board, but I do, and will
not reply to any further comments from you,
no matter how ignorant.


Once again I am indebted to Wendy Otto-Shimun
for her honest participation. It is only through
this exchange that anyone with the intellect to
use a computer and read this web page has been
able to see through her dog and pony show.

I would hate to think that her comments here
are representative of the sort of mindset of
the people who currently sit on the Rodeo Board.

The above is the activism and opinion of Bill Vajk


Sunday, September 14, 2008

wouldn't steam be nice?

On March 16, 2008, Julie Melchiori and I had an email
exchange. Here's a small part of what she wrote that day:

> I thought I'd let you know I'm working with a railroad to
> get costs on tourism travel for at least the summer using
> the existing rail for passenger tourism service. It's
> something I have been working on and looking into
> for some time but now have some promising info.


> I have been working on the commercial rail part of this
> and with your input from before my thoughts about your
> projects have led me to pursuing the passenger option in
> this whole project.

And she wrote more on projects that have a hope of
improving the Iron County economy.

Part of my reply to her lit a spark that has excellent potential:

"In the 1980's I had hopes to get people interested in
skiing weekend rail tours out of Chicago, departing the
Loop at 5:30PM Friday and arriving back at 7AM on
Monday. Once you get anything established rail wise
it can nicely build into a year round thing, especially
since this area seems to be one of the few where people
can come and rent a snowmobile. Marilyn has had it
with renting bicycles and there's no budging her on
the matter so we should find someone interested in
doing that again."

Now I am all for well integrated initiatives, that is to
say that not only does one create, for example, a ski
train but one also brings in a car rental setup at the
railway station, an agency for booking future visits
also run at the train station, a bus service, a display
that has information about investing in real estate
and businesses in the county (over 70% of all US
small an medium businesses have owners who
want to sell out and retire in the next 10 years,)
and a whole host of spin off businesses that would
provide services while engaging the imagination of
our skiing guests.

As I mentioned to Julie (above) "Once you get
anything established rail wise it can nicely build
into a year round thing..."

There's no reason, especially in this age of high
fuel prices, that we can't make a success of bringing
folks to Iron County by rail, but there's no reason
not to have one or more rodeo trains as well as the
previously discussed ski trains. After all, the main
event of a weekend is only a small part of what Iron
County actually has to offer visitors.

The problems with the financial difficulties faced by
the rodeo are only one small part of the continuing
economic collapse of Iron County. When I suggested
installing a trolley system in Iron River, a system that
is not only a tourist attraction feature but also has
educational goals that would make it not only financially
viable but would also give additional reasons to be
year round operation. One of the thoughts was to entice
people who frequent, for their own reasons, nearby
communities to spend a day in Iron River. Can you
imagine the effect on local businesses if we had
tourists in those numbers shopping in downtown
Iron River every summer?

But there was the Iron River City Council and the
DDA which both failed to have any vision for the
potentials such enticements have. Similarly I engaged
Wendy Otto-Shimun about the rodeo, a former
member of the Rodeo Board who appears to lack
the vision to do more than spend the budgeted
advertising money. Perhaps she has more on the
ball, but it sure didn't show itself in her discussions
to date.

I made the trolley proposal. Once made and placed
in the public domain I no longer own the ideas, they
belong to the community, any community, that wants
to use them.

Between using the rail service we have available
and new initiatives we could do a lot to improve
on the downward spiraling local economy that
exists here in Iron County Michigan at the moment.

There's been far too much "invested" in defending
the failures of the past when that energy would be
better spent improving our future.


The above is part of the activism and opinions of Bill Vajk


Friday, September 12, 2008

Ne nuntium necare (modified 9/14/2008)

Wendy Otto-Shimun's responses when combined would do well
coming out of the Alice in Wonderland topsy turvy world. In her
replies the reason the Rodeo is failing is because the community
is too small and people aren't volunteering enough. According to
Wendy Otto-Shimun the Rodeo Board, which has all the control
and which makes all the decisions, bears none of the responsibility
for the financial failure. In truth, they are responsible. No one else
can be.

For good measure, she kills the messenger. The ancient Greeks
passed a law against it. The Latin version is in the title to this
article, "Ne nuntium necare." It seems that facing the truth of
the situation is more than some people can handle. At the end
of her personal attack, Ms. Otto-Shimun writes, " I think its
time for you to move and stick your nose in somewhere else."

How childish! So should we trust such people to report the
news. Is their objectivity compromised by personal political
views and their refusal to accept responsibility for the outcome
they helped to create? Can we trust them to report fairly and
honestly on all subjects, or are they apt to skew the news to
suit their Alice in Wonderland worldview so clearly
demonstrated below?

We are in a presidential election cycle that promises, no matter
who wins the election, to eliminate the failing paradigms of
the present and the recent past on a national level. Sarah Palin
had, by all reports, previously begun that process in Alaska. It
is only a matter of time till the other states, especially
Michigan (which is often described as experiencing a one
state recession) will follow suit, and hopefully the local units
can fall into line as well.

Given all that, it seems a shame to think that with the
anticipated economic upturn that is sure to follow, the
Rodeo Board that is at the helm during the worse days
makes those worse days a permanent situation for the
rodeo. Wendy Otto-Shimun continues to make excuses
for the financial failure of the rodeo and concurrently
she rejects proven solutions.

Entrepreneurial action is needed. That's the only important
fact. All the rest is emotional blather. As far as my attending
a meeting of the Rodeo Board goes the only reason to do so
would be to deliver my message, and it seems that that's
already been done.

The above is a reply to the following which was posted
today on WLUCTV6 "letters to the editor":


Title: Get Your Facts

Posted by Wendy Otto-Shimun, Iron River - Friday, September 12, 2008 at 1:35 p.m.

Maybe, like I mentioned previously, if you had attended a
meeting, when the members of the rodeo board practically
begged for community support and attendance at meetings,
you would know that countless hours were spent seeking
sponsors, both locally and on the national level.

Numerous fundraisers have also been put together throughout
the years, to assist in payment for not only advertising, but to
put on the parade, to pay for the stock contractor, to pay the
county for the grounds rental, for insurances costs, to put on
the queen pageant, the food booth and every other aspect of
the rodeo. But in a small area, you can only ask so much of
the businesses and the people.

Dont keep making assumptions about what you think
should be done when you dont know what has been
done or tried to get done.

Why do you insist upon giving out advice when you dont
have a clue what is going in within this board?

Not having the facts, while continuing to degrade those
involved and spout out lame advice, only makes your
opinion invalid and presumptuous.

Those involved have volunteered for many years and
with out "a fire in their belly", I doubt they would have
stayed working at it this long.

And yes, I do believe I will stick with the answers I've
given. Because they are based on fact, not opinion and
blatant lies, as your "information" is. The information I
have, that you obviously dont, comes from approximately
10 years of sitting on this board. While I am no longer a
board member, I have knowledge of what goes on. Where
do you get your information from, Mr. Vajk?

I will say it again- If you have this great wealth of
knowledge to share, if you think you know what
Donald Trump would do, then maybe you should
be going to a board meeting.

I agree with Mr. Faccin that you are a lot of talk
with no action.

I think its time for you to move and stick your
nose in somewhere else.


I posted a much shorter and sweeter reply to WLUC's web page
but it has not appeared at the time I post this to this blog.

9/14/2008 -- WLUC has approved and made available
my reply on their web page. I've modified this entry in
the blog to include it. My response follows:

My discussion is about entrepreneurial activities
that could save the rodeo. Yet all that I hear in
rebuttal is an ongoing defense of same old same
old activities that have already proved themselves
failures, right down to a blanket refusal to
enlarge the target audience and the targeted

Invariably the answers I am seeing fail to look
at options that will improve the situation and
they insist on living in the past and blaming the
community rather than blaming the individuals who
voluntarily accepted the responsibility for making
the rodeo a success and are failing to do so. It
isn't the community that is responsible, it is the
Rodeo Board. They are the ones in control. They are
the ones making all the decisions, apparently very
bad decisions.

I have lived in Iron County since 2003 and
previously I visited here every summer starting in
1981. I have never heard or read a single discussion
in the local media about the Rodeo Board asking for
assistance let alone a notice of when and where their
meetings are held.

So much for advertising.

While I cannot speak for the Iron County Reporter or
WIKB it seems to me, based on observation, that they
would gladly provide space and time for open
discussions about saving the rodeo. This discussion
is the only one in a public forum that I'm aware
exists at the moment. I have offered positive
insights. Are you, or anyone else closer to the
Rodeo Board, capable of carrying on a fruitful
exchange that will actually save the rodeo?

I don't care a whit about what has been done because
that has failed. I only care about what can and will
be done that has a chance of keeping the rodeo in
Iron River and bringing the financial improvements
it could bring if run in a successful way.

Let me repeat my comment about the derby which at one
time lived here in Iron River. It failed here for
much the same "given reasons" that nobody wanted
to volunteer. It was moved to Eagle River, a
community smaller in winter than Iron River, where
it has thrived ever since.

In aviation when a pilot complained about his
aircraft and it really was the pilot's problem the
adage was, "trouble's in the cockpit."

Well in this case it is as well.


The above is the activism and opinion of Bill Vajk


Rodeo Debate heats up just a bit

Wendy Otto-Shimun took exception to my opinions about the impending failure
of the Upper Peninsula Championship Rodeo and wrote the following piece which
was posted to WLUVTV6's web site under letters to the editor.

TITLE: Apparently someones trolley project isnt panning out!

Posted by Wendy Otto-Shimun, Iron River - Friday, September 12, 2008 at 9:58 a.m.

I’m amazed that William Vajk has the audacity to attack the rodeo board. A man who,
as far as I know, never attended a meeting and has offered no help throughout the
years. Funny how someone who has no knowledge of how things are run can now
offer up an opinion.

Where does he propose the board get the money from for his big idea of hiring an
“outside consultant”?

Maybe I wasn’t clear when I said that the rodeo does not have enough money to pay
the bills, let alone hire someone for a job that could be done by community members
if there were more volunteers.

If he was more informed he would realize that the Central School project and the
demolition of the Cloverland building were city government backed. The rodeo board
is a group of seven people living in this community, working full time jobs, running
businesses, raising families, etc. As far as them taking another “crack at it”- why
should they, with people like you out there doing nothing but condemning them for
their efforts. Your letter complaining about the lack of “a reasonable entrepreneurial
approach” is hardly the way to go about it.

Having personally been in charge of rodeo advertising, both newspaper and radio, in
the past, I can tell you that both forms of media were advertised out of town, though
your suggestions of advertising in Chicago and Detroit are ridiculous. Our rodeo has
a small advertising budget, which was put to good use, promoting the rodeo in target
audience areas.

Before you write a letter that the entire community could be reading, you should get
your facts straight and think twice before putting down people who try to help this

Apparently somebody’s trolley idea isn’t panning out.

And as far as your second comment, you can not "fire" the rodeo board.
The point Mr. Faccin was trying to make, I believe, was that maybe you
shouldnt give your opinion on this issue if you are not going to offer to
help out while doing it.


The following reply has been submitted to WLUC:


TITLE:Are you sure you want to stick with the answer you've given?

I think it important to thank you, Wendy Otto-Shimun, for
explaining the problems regarding the Rodeo Board so clearly.
You see, an entrepreneur wouldn't merely spend whatever
inadequate amount has been handed to them as an advertising
budget, they would get permission to raise money and invest
it to improve attendance. In the amount of time you've spent
defending failure you could have gotten that permission and
made half a dozen phone calls to seek out sponsors with deep

You've made it obvious why volunteerism is not good for
business. It is clear that the Rodeo Board needs professionals
working for them, people with a fire in their belly that's
always a hallmark for success. I asked "what would Donald
Trump do?" and "if you can't, then get someone who can."
Are you sure you want to stick with the answer you've given?


Bill Vajk

John Faccin "has the answers"

I posted a copy of my discussion of what ails the Upper Peninsula Championship Rodeo at the local TV station's web page. A brief skirmish has erupted between an "animal abuse" hater and a rodeo promoter followed by John Faccin's diatribe which follows below:
Long on Criticism Short on Action

Posted by John Faccin, Crystal Falls - Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 10:20 p.m.


Why don't you step up to the plate and take charge of the Rodeo if you think you can do better. Show us some of your expertise on how to run a Rodeo in Iron River. You are always long on
criticism, but short on action. I think Donald Trump would fire you if you worked for him.

John Faccin

Posted at the WLUC web page:


I gave the correct advice. The Rodeo Board needs to take an entreprenaurial approach instead
of throwing in the towel. Mr. Faccin's opinions speak for themselves. It appears to me that he is jealousy driven while lacking any significant ideas of his own. I wonder how the Rodeo Board would take to John firing them and placing me in charge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The following has been published on's letters page and will be submitted to other media for publication as well. While I have not attended the rodeo annually it is an event that has a significant chance of bringing tourism, money, and progress to Iron County if properly run.


Iron River
- The UP Championship Rodeo has not been doing well recently. I am not surprised. They have failed to attract an audience because there has been no out of town advertising. Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, Fox Valley, Green Bay, Appleton, and Detroit are important markets for us. When was the last time we had a banner across US2. That little sign next to The Middle School is hardly worth mentioning.

The Rodeo once was, and should have remained, a major regional event. Given a reasonable entrepreneurial approach, it would be. Similar events in other places not only advertise heavily in all TV markets up to a day's drive away, they also manage to get national and international sponsors. But that requires planning and having a vision apparently lacking in the Rodeo Board. Properly managed the UP Rodeo would have had a paid, year round, full time marketing staff to promote the rodeo and to assure the interest of significant sponsors.

It seems to me what we have needed is a Rodeo Board that operates like a business. If you can't get it done with local talent, then don't be afraid to hire an outside consultant to manage the business aspects. We hired outsiders to do the Cloverland, Crystal Manor, and The Central School. Why stop there? By giving up, as announced, is this going to be like the Snowmobile Derby, made into a success by others a mere 35 miles away?

I urge the Rodeo Committee to take another crack at keeping the Rodeo in Iron County. But that won't be successful unless those in control are willing to look take an entrepreneurial approach to improving. Please ask yourselves, "What would Donald Trump do to make this Rodeo a success?" If you can't, then get someone who can.

The above represents the activism of Bill Vajk

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Iron County MI Disaster Plan......part 2

The following is a communication from Ben Smith to Rosalee King, the presiding chairperson of the Iron County Board of Comissioners:


Madam Chair;
I recently asked the Iron County FOIA officer for a copy of the Iron County security and Disaster Preparedness Plan and was told it was NOT available to me under a section of the FOIA ACT. But since it claims to be the official Iron County Plan of Emergency preparedness, I asked for a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the Iron County Commissioners at which the plan was adopted.That request was also denied ! ! ! Consequently I am beginning the appeal process with you the Iron County Chair.!
Thank You,I am,
Ben Smith

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Iron County MI Disaster Plan......a disaster?

According to a copy of a grant application, written by the Iron County administrator and signed by the Iron County Board of Commissioners Chair, IRON COUNTY HAS A DISASTER AND PUBLIC SAFETY PLAN. ! However they refused to show me a copy and claimed it was exempt from disclosure, by section "Y" of the FOIA.

Their grant requested funds from the federal government to acquire a new $27,000.00 vehicle for the Animal Control Officer/First responder. According to the grant application the Dog Catcher will serve Iron County AND the surrounding area of the Upper Peninsula. Do you want your employee to be serving the surrounding area?

After being told I could not get a copy of their disaster plan, I asked "Who Wrote It" "when" and "where" is it kept. I was met with stone faced staring and not a word.

The county could have bought a used comparable vehicle from the city of Caspian for approx. 25% of the cost they are spending for the Chairs son to use as DOG CATCHER ! ! They claim the present unit leaks great amounts of oil, who does the maintenance ? ? The Dept. of Rural Development in Gladstone told me that they should receive a copy of the minutes from the public hearing that they held because the Feds made them. I intend to get a copy of those minutes and check their truthfulness. ! ! I am a firm believer that figures don't lie, BUT LIARS figure.

I have an acquaintance that recorded yesterdays public hearing SO I will be able to separate the wheat from the CHAFF. Stay tuned I understand some of the incumbents will have opposition, and Iron County will have responsive and capable officals in the courthouse again ! !

While I haven't done it yet I will be using the FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT to get the amount the county spends on legal fees for the past two years broken down by quarters. And I will keep everyone on this site up to date

Ben Smith

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ben Smith asks Iron County - event #1

Ben's persistance pays off!


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ben <>
Date: Aug 22, 2008 8:18 AM
Subject: Fwd: Re: FOIA Request

Iron County claims such records do NOT EXIST ! How did they get to
Lansing? More info will follow.

Note: forwarded message attached.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Dana Wolverton" <>
To: "Ben" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:04:56 -0400
Subject: Re: FOIA Request
Thank you for your prompt reply to my voice mail inquiry. This is to
confirm that you are requesting this information for the past five
years. We will provide to you information from January 2003 to the
present. Thank you again.

Dana Wolverton
Departmental Analyst
Emergency Management
and Homeland Security Division
Michigan Department of State Police
TX - 517-333-5032
Pager - 517-341-0058
Cell - 517-243-0864
Fax - 517-333-4987

>>> Ben <> 8/19/2008 12:45 PM >>>
Dear Sir/Madam;
Capt. John Ort;
Sue Passamani, Iron County FOIA Officer
I am requesting under the Mich.Freedom of Information Act.
The names of all attendees from Iron County Michigan at your
training program. I further request the names and training level IF
AVAILABLE of all attendees and certified first responders from Iron
Thank You for your assistance in this matter. I am.

Ben Smith
601 Harding
Iron River,Michigan- 49935

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Letter to Iron County Reporter - Aug 22 2008

The following letter was submitted to the Iron County Reporter on 22 August 2008.


With the recent airplane surveys over Iron County there has been some discussion about the environmental consequences of mining. Those discussions need to begin not about the suspected impact in our county, but rather about human needs. All civilized society exists because we are willing to utilize the natural resources available to us.

Think about the first human who ever picked up a nicely shaped hunk of wood and used it as a club to get his dinner. The same human probably found a cave to live in out of the weather. Both of these acts require the using of natural resources. The more natural resources humans came to use, the better we lived, right up to today. Your home, your furniture, your car, cooking, and the heat in your home, didn't just happen. They are all the results of our utilizing natural resources.

I'm not prepared to give up our harvesting of natural resources that allows our lifestyle. In fact, I would rather that humanity mines sulfite, and every other natural resource, right here in the USA where state and national governments maintain harsh standards in order to minimize our spoiling the earth. Third world nations presently have no such standards or enforcement. If we mine here in the US, then by the time we've used up our resources here, the third world will have developed and advanced socially and politically to have environmental laws and controls similar to ours in place. With over a billion people living in China, their government's primary concern is just getting everyone fed, with no energy left over for worrying about pollution, as is most of the third world.

Until the third world improves their economies, mining here in the US is the only safe way to fill our needs for minerals.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Call Center Boondoggle - Part 1

Here are the pages received from Michigan Works relating to labor
requisitions made by Global Response North. I see only 3 real jobs
among the requisitions. The rest are the same sort of part time jobs
lacking any fringe benefits that many people find repulsive when they
are discussing Walmart.

I thought I heard that the Call Center employs 85 people. That doesn't
mean that 85 people actually make a living working there. The question
remains, how many do.

Don't expect the Jim Gibula & Julie Melchiori duo to give us the facts.
I have a set of FOIA requests with them that as big a disaster as
anything I've ever seen. That information will be part of another
posting. It is so stupid as to verge on amusing.

We still have to look into the EDC books to find out how much money
has been spent on the building. The question is whether or not the
Iron County EDC has improved the economic situation in Iron County
enough to justify their continued existance.

Please copy this URL into your browser search line. The target file is
about 604 kilobytes long.

The above is the activism and opinion of Bill Vajk

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weston Powell, continued

On July 29th 2008 I received a letter from Ms. Powell Weston stating,
"You should receive shortly, from my office, a copy of the letter and
information sent to the Attorney General's office concerning these

The issues being, of course, the City of Iron River ordinances
regarding the "readiness to serve" charge for water service which is
shut off at the curbstop and the noxious weeds ordinance as that
relates to mowing of grass within the "corporate limits" of the City
of Iron River.

By dealing with these issues through Ms. Powell Weston and the
Attorney General I am hopeful of avoiding a massive class action
lawsuit against many, if not most, of the Upper Peninsula
municipalities that have similar, or identical, ordinances. If
resolution is not achieved through this approach, only lawsuit
remains. Most of the municipalities in Michigan's UP cannot afford to
defend themselves in court at this time.

I have sent Ms. Powell Weston the following mail:

William J. Vajk
US2 Highway
Iron River MI 49935
12 August 2008
Melissa Powell Weston
Iron County Prosecutor
2 South 6th Street
Crystal Falls MI 49920

Dear Ms. Powell Weston:

I am in receipt of your letter to me dated 29 July 2008. I have, as
best as I am able as a layman (not a lawyer) continued to research the
Iron River ordinances as they relate to Michigan constitutional law
and existing court verdicts.

I respectfully direct your attention to Bolt. v. City of Lansing,
Michigan Supreme Court Docket No. 108511, Decided December 28, 1998
which was a case brought based on the Headlee Amendment to the
Michigan Constitution.

The Bolt decision is clearly on mark with respect to the Attorney
General Opinion I am seeking. I find it interesting that in Bolt the
Michigan Supreme Court referred to the National Cable Television v.
United States case I brought to your attention in my earlier letter to

Obligatory reference for what follows: (Lawrence W. Reed is president
of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland and, as a member
of the Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Commission, he helped write the
portion of the commission's report dealing with the user fee vs. tax
issue. More information on tax policy is available at Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby
granted, provided the author and his affiliation are cited.)

"Just what exactly distinguishes a user fee from a tax? The Court
advanced three main criteria: 1) a user fee is designed to defray the
costs of a regulatory activity (or government service), while a tax is
designed to raise general revenue; 2) a true user fee must be
proportionate to the necessary costs of the service, whereas a tax may
not be; and 3) a user fee is voluntary whereas a tax is not."

Please see for a
complete article by Mr. Reed on this subject. His article concludes
with the following:

"The message is clear to Michigan municipalities: You now have no
legitimate excuses for mislabeling taxes as "user fees." Be honest. If
it's a tax, put it before the voters as the Headlee Amendment
requires, and make your best case. You can't ignore the Constitution
just because you need the money."

I hope these references help, but I remain available for further
clarification as needed.


The above is the activism of Bill Vajk. This, and other ongoing
projects designed to improve life in Iron County may be found at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Call Center / Michigan Works FOIA Response

I sent a FOIA request (freedom of information act) to Western
Michigan Works which provides employment services to
anyone who asks for it, related to the Call Center.

In response they sent me copies of their requisitions for the Call
Center as follows:

May 16, 2007 they asked for 20 customer service representatives.
Wages are "competitive" flexible hours between 7am-7pm, no
mention of fringe benefits. High School Diploma required. Promise
of advancement mentioned.

June 6, 2007 they asked for 1 Call Center Trainer, full time (40
hours per week.) Fringe benefits are mentioned, medical insurance,
paid sick leave, paid vacation. Requires bachelor's degree and 2
years of experience.

June 6, 2007 they asked for 1 Call Canter Manager, full time (40
hours per week.) Fringe benefits are mentioned, medical insurance,
paid sick leave, paid vacation. Requires bachelor's degree and 2
years of experience.

July 9, 2007 they asked for 1 bilingual customer service
representative, English/Spanish. It is part time (28 hours
a week) with paid training. High School Diploma required.

Sept 21, 2007 they asked for 20 Customer Service Representatives.
"Earn $$$ for the holidays." Requires typing and basic computer
skills. No fringe benefits of promise of advancement mentioned.
50% employee discount from many client's catalogs mentioned.

Oct 1, 2007 they asked for 1 Network and Telecom Technician for
a full time (40 hour week) position. Fringe benefits are mentioned,
life insurance, medical insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation,
and 401(k). This job requires 2 years of experience.

April 16, 2008 they asked for 1 bilingual customer service
representative, English/French, Part Time. Job requires a
High School Diploma. Flexible Hours between 8 AM and 9 PM.
Career advancement and paid training mentioned.

May 4, 2008 they requested 20 Customer Service Representatives,
flexible hours between 7am-7pm. Representatives take incoming
calls. Career advancement and paid raining. "This job has some
special requirements. You must undergo a reference or security

Western UP Michigan Works also advised me that these job orders
were entered into the system by Global Response themselves. "As
far as wages, hours worked and benefits; these terms were discussed
with the potential employee during the interviews."

I may dig further, don't know yet. But the patterns I was
looking for are established in the records I have received. I
asked for copies of the requisitions, and they gave me those.

Does any reader here consider the part time positions, which
probably do not generate enough income to live on, "a job" as
the EDC counts them? In all of the above documentation I see
only 3 real jobs.

"occupation: the principal activity in your life that you do to earn money"

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