Sunday, March 22, 2009

City of Iron River Management Commentary

I decided to memorialize the January 21, 2009,
comments issued by the City of Iron River
City Manager without further comment until
the lawsuit is finally settled. They are
posted here as a matter of record.

The following text is publicly available on
the City of Iron River' web page at this time.


On December 29th, I was served personally at my home,
with a Summons and Complaint from the Circuit Court
for the County of Iron. Plaintiff, Mr. William J. Vajk,
filed a Freedom of Information request on December 1st
with the City Clerk, requesting 5 different pieces of
information relative to City ordinances, along with
substantial supporting documentation. Following the
City’s FOIA Policy, the staff estimated the costs of
researching, locating, and copying the information
requested. As required in the FOIA Policy, we advised
Mr. Vajk that we believed the information he requested
would cost approximately $60 to try to locate, and
then produce copies. Mr. Vajk responded by complaining
the costs were too high. Much of the supporting
information he was requesting however, required that
it be located and retrieved from the City’s document
storage area, which had been packed away during the
consolidation of the three communities back in 2000.
Keep in mind that at the time of consolidation, the
files from all three communities were simply placed
in unmarked boxes, delivered to 2nd level of the
former City Fire Hall and stacked on the floor.
There were literally thousands of documents deposited
in this fashion to the storage area. Mr. Vajk
apparently believed the City was being unreasonable
in estimating the cost of retrieving the information,
and filed a law suit against me personally. This
matter has now been turned over to Attorney Susan
MacGregor from Marquette who will be representing
the City of Iron River in this litigation.
Apparently Mr. Vajk, who is a land owner but not
a resident of the City, claims this is the first
of “many” such demands and suits he plans against
the City. It is unfortunate that the FOIA law,
that was intended to provide access to our
government, is often abused by some individuals
and ends up costing taxpayers both time and
dollars to satisfy the whims of one or two
individuals who simply have an “axe to grind”.
Hopefully the legal matter will be satisfied
without excessive expenses to our City residents.

Posted by Bill Vajk on March 22, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Death of Yahoo's IronCountyWatch group

It seems that the Iron County Watch discussion group
has finished its run. It existed for about 5 years. I
quit the group some time back in November of 2007
because it was, for me, a waste of time better spent
in other ways. The best responses ever mustered there
were based in what I considered to be ignorant dissent,
the worse were truly vacant hate pieces.

I looked in on the group the only way a non-member could,
at the top page that gives the mission statement, the
size of the membership, and the number of posts by month.
The final record I have was from March 3, 2009 when there
were 182 members (down from a long term stable membership
of 183). By March 9th there were 27 postings for the month
which is slightly over 3 per day. The group, unless I was
a member and posting there, never did very well with the
usual level of participation resulting between 2 and 3
posts a day with a national election cycle peak of more
than 8 per day during September of 2008. I guess it is
possible to excite a few folks in Iron County after all.

The good news is that I saved an older posting I was
directed to while I was still a member. It was posted
on November 28, 2005 by the alias

"gustlehtin" .

It was signed at the bottom by "Poor Richard."

"Poor Richard's Almanac" was published in colonial
America by Ben Franklin.

I was told that the original of this piece, that has
an date of February 1996, was distributed around the
region by someone slipping copies into mailboxes in
Iron County. The main villain in the piece is
John Archocosky, currently the City Manager of
Iron River.

It was a tad on the offensive side, that is to
say--it was a severely critical piece, so I hesitate
to post it to a public page in my name. I would put
it on an angelfire web page, but the difficulty
there is that at the first "terms of service"
complaint from anyone, Lycos/angelfire kills the
web page. I am not going to sacrifice any of
those pages I've had up for several years now.

If you'd like this Poor Richard piece I'll be
glad to email it on request. I will ignore random
unidetifiable email addresses. I'll have to know
who you are before I'll send it to you as an HTML

As far as the death of IronCountyWatch goes, it
was poorly managed and I am told that someone
posted a bunch of naked porn pictures there,
causing the owners to pull the plug on it.

Please note that the long term membership had
been stable for at least a couple of years so
far as I could tell looking at the stats page.
So it seems likely to me that someone who took
exception to the contents of the group wrecked
it on purpose. One of the issues that caused it
to almost be killed off a few years back was an
explicit discussion about homosexuality. In fact
the mission statement was modified at that time
to include the following statement:

"You will notice the yahoo chat icon...use it for
issues that don't really belong here, to talk to
other members, those issues being the
"homosexuality issue" as one of them."

What became the IronCountyIndependent was spun
off at at that time as a place where all discussions
were permitted. So it seems very strange to me that
that web page became a bastion of fundamental
Christian discussions.

These events lend validity to my decision to keep
a greater degree of control over the several blogs
I offer to the community. It doesn't take many
warped minds to wreck a good thing, and heaven
knows we have our share of them in the county,
with a goodly representation of them in political
offices in Iron County.

Well written emailed articles will find a home
here. I'll post them even if I disagree with them,
but I reserve the right to reply.

Bill Vajk

Friday, March 13, 2009

About Patriotism

I've had a number of concerns about WLUC TV6's
management of the public blog they've created
to allow people to voice their opinions. Here
are "the rules" at the top of their page:

"Below, you will find letters to TV6. They could be
anything from a story written by you which we were
unable to cover, to comment or complaint about a
story TV6 has done.

"Readers will also have the option to comment on
the letters that are posted.

"We will not post any letters written under an
anonymous name. Also, the letters should contain
no profanity or personal attacks."

They can make up any rules they want to. And they
have, but there's some sort of other agenda they
play with that isn't state or obvious. Here's an
example of what I mean. Take a look at:

That's a story by a Vietnam era veteran, wheelchair
bound from his service to our country. He went to
some local athletic events and the team disrespected
the national anthem and the salute to the flag. He
objected to their coach, and he's objecting in writing
on their web page.

WLUC posted personal attacks and dissent, but nothing
supporting the veteran's viewpoint. I sent something
supportive but otherwise neutral, and it was rejected.

Their statement that "Readers will also have the option
to comment on the letters that are posted" is not true.
Readers who write what WLUC thinks should be the story
will have the option to comment. Not very clever at all.

When Iron County had a recall effort against several
members of the County Board because of the poor treatment
that board afforded veterans here, WLUC came out against
the recall.

I have no further use for WLUC. They could never survive
as a commercial entity in any situation where they had
to compete with other TV stations. I've offered other
things in the past that were rejected for no real reason
other than what I wrote didn't meet their agenda.

We have a similar problem with our local newspaper. Both
these "media outlets" are as much in the business of
making local news as they are in the business of creating
and slanting it to fit some arbitrary paradigm of their

Bill Vajk

Monday, March 2, 2009

Help Get That Rumor Started! (modified Mar 3, 2009)

A funny thing happened the other day. I heard a rumor about
myself. "Bill Vajk is out to destroy Iron River," it said. I
confess to a few things I do want to destroy.

A good starting point is to destroy a city government
mentality that has city crews out mowing grass they decide
is "unsightly" instead of concerning themselves with child safety.
Why aren't the sidewalks up and down US2 from the Middle
School cleared of snow? Will it take a child slipping down
one of the snowbanks and being killed or maimed before
city government decides to prioritize child safety?

I also want to destroy the mindset that has the city charging
10% late charge, compounding to 314% per year, to the
poor soul that loses his job and suddenly can't pay his
monthly water/trash bill. And when someone doesn't pay
it because they're suddenly out of work, not only does the
city shut off your water, but they keep charging $25 a
month for water you're not using, right along with the
mounting late fees. It doesn't take long for the city to
totally wreck a homeowner's finances, and for what? To
make sure they have the money to mow your grass if
it gets a little high while not 50 feet away the weeds
grow 6 feet tall on city property?

Yes, I confess to having some amount of desire for
destruction in my heart, probably the very same things
you want to see destroyed, while keeping the good
things we have. The trouble is that if my concern about
these things spilled over and people started voicing their
concerns in City Council meetings, the next rumor would
be, "Bill Vajk is inciting a riot."

Please, please, help get that rumor started!

The above was submited to the Iron County Reporter
and the Iron Mountain Daily News newspapers. On
Saturday, February 27, 2008, the Daily News published
my letter with a minor omission. The cut out the part about
6 foot weeds growing withn 50 feet on City property.
We'll know tomorrow how the Iron County Reporter felt
about it the letter.
Bill Vajk
Modification - March 3, 2009
Not too long after I arrived in Iron River I had a
discussion with Allyce Westphal, now the editor
of the Iron County Reporter. She told me she's
always looking for a well written piece.
While the Iron Mountain Daily News published
the above as an opinion letter, it was decided
"not fit to print" by the Iron County Reporter.
Well that came as no surprise. The Reporter
seems to be just as sensitive about criticism
of local governments as the elected officials
who are misbhaving.
The press needs to be independent to be
effective as one prong in the balance of
power between the people and the
government. Instead, it seems to me that
the local paper merely wants to be
profitable. That's par for the course in
Iron County, Michigan.
Bill Vajk

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