Wednesday, July 30, 2008

John Faccin's candidacy - not such a good idea

Dateline July 30, 2008

It came to my attention yesterday, in this week's Iron County
Reporter, that John Faccin has decided to run for the 110th District
state Representative's seat. I went to the "Meet the Candidates"
meeting at Crystal Falls last night hopeful of asking him a question.
Unfortunately John fell ill a few hours before the meeting and was
unable to attend. But I am mailing this note to John and asking him to
reply to my question anyway. I will post it if he provides a reply
that sounds in any way reasonable.

Before I get to the question, I want to make the reader aware of the
bad blood John has created between us. On October 3, 2007, he wrote
the following:


"You are just plain wrong, what you are is a Master of twisting things
around to suit your twisted mind."


"Did you ever wonder how Iron County got along so long without you.
They have existed for over 100 years without you and your advice. How
could that be? I'm not asking anyone to take my word for anything,
they can if they want, or they can check for themselves. I don't sell
out, and anyone who knows me, knows that. Ask Chuck Nordeman City of
Crystal Falls Manager if I sell out or stick to what I believe is the
truth and right. He was and is in a position to know."


"You have burnt every bridge you ever had in Iron County.

"You make my job easier by everything you say. My job is to get the
truth out and I have done that without too much trouble. I wonder if
everything is so bad and there is so much poverty around here why do
you stay, no one would miss you if you moved back to the homeland of
your roots, Hungary. It must be better there right, but then why did
your ancestors want to move to this poverty stricken country? I know,
they like you were going to save us all from ourselves right. I'll
continue to fight for the truth and for Iron County, I unlike you like
it here, and am trying to make a difference for the better. I don't
care what your opinion is, or what you think. I'll just let mother
nature take it's course and all will be fine again."

Well thank you, John, for being so blunt in telling the world how you
feel about things. There's no question that Iron County, unlike most
of the United States, is poverty struck and economically depressed.
There's no question that the county has been unable to sustain those
who were born here, and many have had to leave over the years just to
earn a living. It is a fact we have lousy roads. It is a fact that we
have 40-something fewer stores in Iron River alone than were here 25
years ago. People like you do need to be saved from yourselves. You're
in public office and running for higher public office, so make a
financial disclosure showing what a wonderful living you've been
making here in Iron County! I triple dawg dare you! I predict you will
not make any financial disclosure.

It doesn't make any sense to me at all that an individual who writes
diatribes like John did against fellow citizens could ever be able to
represent all of us equally in a state legislature setting. It is one
of the rights of citizenship to criticize government and the things we
don't like about how things are being run. Government is there to
serve us, not to retaliate as John has done on their behalf.

It is my opinion that John Faccin, who was known for years as a very
vocal reform advocate in Iron County, writes and says things like the
above in order to ingratiate himself with the Iron County oligarchy,
that is to say, the people currently in power. It seems he has some
county jobs at this time. All of them are appointed positions. He is
currently chairman of the planning commission and the parks commission
(which was formed only to be able to sell off some property the county
intends to do in order to raise some money.) He's also the secretary
of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. I understand John ran for a
state level seat before and failed to be elected. There's certainly no
dishonor in running, or losing an election, but it appears to me that
he's a self-promoting opportunist rather than a dedicated public

My question for last night directed to John Faccin was, "Mr. Faccin,
for years you were vocally opposed to how Iron County government
operates. They appointed you to some positions in county government
and suddenly they can do no wrong in your eyes. If elected to state
position, what assurance do we have that the same thing won't happen

All right, John, the ball is in your court. The piece above is posted
at my new web site at Your answer
will appear next to the above should you elect to respond in a
reasonable and respectful manner, as though you were already in a
state legislature elected position. Can you be fair in representing me
at the state level? If not, you should withdraw. In fact, I highly
recommend that you do.

The blog reader might well say, Bill you just broke your own rule in
posting an opinion piece. It might seem that way, but the essential
activist element is in confronting John Faccin with his own behavior
and asking him to explain himself. We probably can't achieve that in
the newspaper, so I have decided to do it here partly because the
primary is coming up so quickly.

John Faccin closed out his particularly nasty public posting about me
with this bit:

"What you need to do is find a church and read the bible, but then I
guess you would want proof and would be arguing with GOD telling him
how to do things. Seriously you should think about going to church and
reflect on your life, I know I have and I have made a lot of mistakes,
but I asked Jesus for forgiveness and I know I am saved. I know this
last few days I havn't been very Christian, but I will pray for you
and me for forgiveness."

Unlike you, John, I don't need forgiveness. It is much easier for me
to avoid behavior that requires it.

Being religious is, in my opinion, a good thing. But religion and
politics don't mix very well. Witch burnings in God's name
demonstrated that in the early history of the USA. Religion and
praying are helpful in a human being's personal relationships with men
and God, but not appropriate in the United States for seeking
political solutions. I don't care what sort of a Christian you are,
John. I care very much what kind of a politician you would be if
elected. In my opinion, not a very good one. Change my mind, if you

Of course if you write something really stupid I won't hesitate for a
second to post that as well.

The above is the opinion and activism of Bill Vajk.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sawmill - lack of information

When the public meeting was scheduled to be held for public comment
about the Amasa sawmill project I submitted an FOIA to the Economic
Development Corporation asking for specific information. I received,
in return, a denial that any documents containing the requested
information existed. Of course such documents and records as existed
were withheld, but the real point of the exercise was to demonstrate
that the pretext of the meeting asking for public comment was a sham
(stated differently that is to say, "business as usual in Iron

What follows was the followup letter I sent to the EDC after the fact.
Attorney Tinti has given the county some misleading closing verbiage
for their FOIA responses. In the original form he stated that the
total compensation that could be awarded n the event of a judicial
review favoring the plaintiff (the person who made a request that was
later denied) was $500 including attorney's fees and expenses.
Subsequently it was corrected.

In his highly personal diatribe against me on his web page, Yahoo
Groups "IronCountyIndependent" John Facin included Tinti as one of the
individuals I had insulted. Got news for you John, any licensed
attorney who can't copy information that's repeated in the statute as
well as published Attorney General opinions deserves to be insulted so
I hope that he did take insult. The man took public funds to give
advice to the county that was just plain wrong, and that deserves


William J. Vajk
P.O. Box
Stambaugh MI 49964
18 September 2007

Iron County Economic Development Corp.
2 S 6th Street
Crystal Falls MI 49920

REF: Your reply of 16 Sept 2007 to my FOIA request dated 10 Sept 2007 and
The cover page article "Veterans office open…." in the Iron County
Reporter dated 19 September 2007

Dear Mrs. Melchiori:

Thank you for your reply. Since it has provided one of the two
alternative sets of answers I sought I do not consider it a denial in
the sense you apparently intended despite the fact that you failed to
include all the FOIA requested "records" because the county attorney
Tinti has advised you incorrectly according the to the referenced
article. The answer you have provided is adequate.

The only conclusion to be drawn from your reply to the referenced FOIA
request is that there is no document or plan which incorporates the
critical elements demanded of any publicly funded project designed to
improve the economic state of Iron County. The date of your reply is 5
days before the public is asked for comment for a bond issue to
subsidize the Amasa sawmill project. It is obvious that the public
will be unable to exercise informed judgment when making any comment
on the proposed bond issue.

I am sorry to have to say that this is not the way a representative
county government is supposed to be run.

There are at least two errors in your reply relating to the
functioning of the Freedom of Information Act which I hope you will
not repeat in response to future FOIA requests. The first is that FOIA
applies to records, not documents. The second is that FOIA permits
$500 in punitive damages not inclusive of attorney fees and other
costs and damages.

Please see Michigan PA 442 of 1977 sections 15.231 through 15.246
inclusive and the Attorney General's summary dated April 13, 1977.


CC: Iron County Reporter

Michigan Works and the Call Center

It turns out that quasi governmental organizations receiving the bulk
of their funding from the State of Michigan are subject to FOIA
requests. Since we cannot require Global Response North to provide any
information about pay rates, hours worked, or operations, the only way
to legally get that sort of information is through a FOIA to the
organization, in this case Michigan Works, that provides the call
center with employees.

What follows is the FOIA request I sent to Michigan Works in Caspian
recently. The date shown is the date of mailing so they have some time
remaining to get their answer to me.

Despite the fact that the Iron County Economic Development Corporation
has caused glowing reports about the Call Center to be published we've
actually had no way to audit those claims till now. I thought that the
last 10 requests should give us some pretty good insight into what's
going on there.

William J. Vajk
US2 Highway
Iron River MI 49935
24 July 2008

Subj: FOIA

Michigan Works Service Center
237 East Caspian Avenue
Caspian MI 49915

Please provide copies of the most recent 10 requests for new employees
submitted by the business locally known as Global Response North,
whether under that name or any other. The information must include
wage offered, promised hours per week or other period, and indicate if
a benefits package is included or not.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Melissa Powell Weston

William J. Vajk
US2 Highway
Iron River MI 49935
22 July 2008

Melissa Powell Weston
Iron County Prosecutor
2 South 6th Street
Crystal Falls MI 49920

Dear Ms. Powell Weston:

I had previously asked Joseph Sartorelli to forward my request to the
Michigan Attorney General for some Iron River Township ordinances. I
present a new similar request relating to two specific Iron River
Michigan ordinances, attached, with an eye to preventing the necessity
of a massive class action lawsuit which most of the probable targeted
upper peninsula municipalities will not be able to afford to defend
against within their current budgets.

I ask that your office forward the context of this request to the
Michigan Attorney General for his opinion. The Attorney General
declines to respond to requests made by ordinary citizens while
reserving comment to questions posed by state officials.

City of Iron River Ordinance 52.64 has to do with charging property
owners whose premises are connected to the water mains in Iron River
but who are consuming no water because the service is shut off at the
curb stop.

This section fails to comply with the fundamental fairness demanded by
the US Constitution and imposed on the states through the 14th
amendment thereto. In addition, since there is no actual service being
provided to the customer in exchange for this charge it constitutes an
illegal and discriminatory tax. Please see National Cable Television
Ass'n v. United States, 415 U.S. 336, 94 S.Ct. 1146, 39 L.Ed.2d 370 in
which the Supreme Court has effectively stipulated a method of
determining the fairness of charges by a federal agency not authorized
to create and impose taxes related to the service provided, in this
instance, none. While that decision is not imposed on state and
municipal agencies, the legal concept is identical in all respects. A
property owner only receives that benefit from being connected to the
water system which he already paid as fees at the time the original
connection was made. This ordinance is outrageous yet it is duplicated
by other municipalities in the region pending legal challenge.
Further, municipal governments are prohibited by state law from
establishing taxes not authorized by statute. If a municipal
government is imposing charges without providing service in exchange
it cannot be anything other than a tax regardless of whatever the
municipality decides to label the charges.

The undersigned has paid this so called fee to the city of Iron River
under protest for several years.

City of Iron River Ordinance 91.31 et seq. is at first blush
constitutionally vague. Despite the fact that grass was mowed at 413
Plum Street, Iron River, on or about April 29th, the City of Iron
River mowed the grass again on or about 16 June without giving notice
or opportunity to object that the requirements of the ordinance had
been met. The city is unable to determine whether the ordinance
requirements have been met by a property owner. The determination by
the Public Works Foreman when the grass becomes "unsightly" without
further guidance is constitutionally vague. If the ordinance provided
a fixed length of grass that is unacceptable then the determination
could be made in a reasonable manner.

Furthermore the ordinance requires that "it shall be the duty of every
person who owns any lands within the corporate limits of the city
to....." A person is defined under section 91.30 as "One or more
persons of either sex, firms, corporations, partnerships,
associations, unincorporated voluntary clubs, and associations."

The city enforces section 91.31 et seq. on a capricious and arbitrary
basis all the while failing, as a corporate entity itself, to mow
grass on public properties directly under its control. The second
question regarding this ordinance is whether the city can legally
enforce an ordinance which it itself ignores, and clearly ignores
where it comes to friends of the city administration.

Ms. Powell Weston, I am taking you at your word that you wish to
continue to work with state and local officials to better Iron County
(please see Iron County Reporter 23 July 2008 pg. 5.) Sending this
request for an opinion to the Michigan Attorney General would
demonstrate that you are a person who keeps their promises. The total
cost to you is the few minutes it will take to compose and submit your
version of the legal questions. I look forward to hearing your
decision for this request in the next few days.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


This is not going to be an ordinary sort of blog. The idea here is to discuss what people are doing to improve our situation, not to argue over issues and ideas. There are those of us who are doers and this is a place to read what at least some of the doers are doing.

I'm Bill Vajk and this is my blog. I set the rules, and no comment will be posted as readable by the public until I approve it. Other forums in Iron County have a tendency, in my opinion, to lose sight of their mission. This blog is going to be very narrowly construed. Nothing new will be posted here unless someone has actually done something, like issued an FOIA request, filed a legal complaint, submitted a new release that didn't get published, and so forth, or some other interesting act. There's the keyword, action, not lip service.

Mostly comments will be restricted to citizens who are not public officials. The reason for this is that the local print media bends over backwards to publish anything they want the public to hear. Editorial prerogatives sometimes get in the way of offering information. Hopefully this blog will level the playing field just a little. I will, however, post brief statements from new candidates for elective office as well as any official seeking reelection or retention. Generally speaking I will not repeat information published elsewhere.

The internet is, in some ways, a great equalizer. This blog costs nothing to set up and run. If you have opinions you want to publish and they don't fit here, please feel free to follow the instructions to set up your own.

You can start here:

Over the next few days I'll be posting the current FOIAs and other activities I'm engaged in. This is being a busy summer. Hopefully other individuals will submit information as well.

There you have it, this is what we're about. I hope it helps and I am even more hopeful that we can convert more people from being passive citizens into activists for progress.

Bill Vajk

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