Saturday, May 30, 2009

Iron River Twp. Town Hall Meeting

I attended the "old fashioned Town Hall Meeting"
last night at the I.R. Twp. Hall. The purpose
was to solicit support of the people for keeping
the local state prison, Camp Ottawa, open during
this period of cutbacks.

A very thorough discussion about the prison and
what that facility means to the township and the
county was presented by several people.

Officials in attendance were:

Gov. Grandholm's U.P. Rep.
State Representative - Mike Lahti
Lobbyist - Ron Basso
Supervisor - Mark Polley
Twp. Treasurer - Clements

The only Township official not introduced was
a Mr. Piwaraski,

Commander Shovald of the MSP.
Sheriff - Mark Valesano
City Mgr. Caspian - Richard Frighetto
Mayor of Iron River - Roger Zanon
Iron River City Councilman - Ray Coates
Iron River City Manager - John Archocosky
Former City Manager (Stambaugh) - Silven
Iron County Edc=A0Director - Julie Melchori
Iron County Commissioner - Rosalie King
Chamber of Commerce & EDC - Bill Leonoff
Township Attorney - Steve Polich

The Warden from Marinisco Prison Camp,
that oversees Camp Ottawa.

Notable by his absence was George Brunswick, the
district representative on the Iron County Board
of Commissioners. Four reporters from various
information media were also in attendance.

If your humble reporter has inadvertently omitted
anyone who was present, please phone Ben Smith.
The number is listed.

These (20) twenty listed above, there as a natural
business matter, comprised almost 50% of the forty-
three people I counted in attendance.

An unnamed City of Iron River official could not
confirm or deny that they were being paid for
attending. The Township Supervisor confirmed that
all Township officials attended gratis.

Ben Smith


According to the 2000 census, Iron River Township
had 1585 people. We can safely assume that there
has not been a major change in that number. If all
43 people in attendance had been township residents
(and only about 1/2 of them were) we had a
representation of 2.7% of the total population
showing support by caring enough to attend a meeting.
That's not a very large showing and in my opinion
not very convincing of local support for the prison.

Bill Vajk

Friday, May 29, 2009

Faccin's Fit of Pique

John Faccin has been working for some time now as chairman
of Iron County Parks and Recreation in order to move the
presently free boat landing into Pentoga Park, install a
boatwash, and charge a launching fee. This has been a makework
project for John who was hired to fill a position on a new
political entity made necessary by the County Board's desire
to sell of some recreational property. John's group was to
meet once or twice a year and essentially be nothing more
than a silent window dressing as a political expedient. Instead
John grabbed the bit between his teeth and has been running
hard in an attempt to gain some political clout.

As recently reported in the Iron Mountain Daily News, Faccin
laid out his plans at a recent County Board of Commissioners
meeting, but the plans were inadequate. The Board decided to
seek engineering proposals, a move that displeased Faccin.

Later in the meeting, with the agenda item he under which he
had made his presentation already exhausted, he returned
during the "public comment" period to state his displeasure
at the board's decision. Some of the newspaper text on this
aspect follows"

"During the public comment section, Faccin expressed his
disappointment at the board's decision. 'We do have the
funds for this,' he said. 'We need to get started on
construction, or this will not get finished this year.'

"He pointed out that the $10,000 estimate for the boat
wash construction was likely an over estimate, and that
the extra money could be put toward other parts of the

How much longer will it be before Faccin wears out his welcome?
Faccin has no project planning or management experience that
we know of, but he's insisting that the County Board give him
a free hand to run a project he apparently little understands.

Thank heavens the County Board got this one right.

Bill Vajk

Prison and Thanks to the Road Commission

Because of previous commitments I had only a brief
time to devote to the Friday (May 29th) Iron River
Township Town Hall Meeting in support of retaining
the state prison. Thanks to Mark Polley and Ron Basso
who allowed me to collar them for a brief hallway
meeting that allowed me to present the outline of
a proposal I had to make to them about the prison.

I had previously never heard that there is sawmill
training operation at the prison till this prison
closing discussion brought the information into the
wider public sphere. I think it is a shame that a
state owned facility like that is only available
to prisoners when industrial training is invaluable
to people living in this region. So I have urged
Messrs. Polley and Basso to work quickly to field
a plan, perhaps in concert with Michigan Works, to
improve the utilization of the sawmill as a trade
school for the region in addition to training
prisoners. Improved utilization of the state owned
facility might be what it takes to keep the prison

While I have your attention, I want to thank and
congratulate the members of the new Iron County
Road Commission (elected last November.) For the
first time in several years, after the spring
grading of Kallio Road, it was not only a super
good job but it also has the crown it is
supposed to have and doesn't have water retaining
berms at the road edges. I believe the situation
with our Iron County roads is looking up.

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

About Our Lobbyist

So we have a lobbyist in our midst. This brings to mind the
elementary question, how does he fit into the scheme of
things? Even more basic is the question, "Who does
Ron Basso work for?"

Well Ron works for himself. His income derives from work that he
does, so in order to generate a better income he has to sell himself
and the benefits of his work. Then he runs to Lansing, and attempts
to sell whatever his client wants to achieve.

If there aren't enough projects about to make ends meet, Ron is
forced to invent some. Is that what we want?

What did this community do before Ron and his wife came "home"
to Iron River? Are we better off having Ron intercede on our
behalf? And how does anyone measure the results? Are the people
who hire Ron incapable of achieving the same results with a bit
of work on their own part? If not, are they the right people for the
job they're in?

Bill Vajk

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Irrational Hatred has an underlying cause

Some years ago while bopping about in the Government Printing
Office Bookstore in Chicago I happened on a book called "Drug
Abuse and Drug Abuse Research. The Third Triennial Report to
Congress from the Secretary, Department of Health and Human
Services." This book has proved to be such a treasure trove
of information that the Department of HEW simply reissued the
same book when the next two editions were due to be published.
And now, fortunately, it is available on line for free.

You can find a description and a hot link to download the
entire book at click here

The PDF version of the book is some 20 megabytes so a high
speed broadband connection is desirable.

The reason I recommend this book is because, among other
things, it describes the prevalence of mental illness among
substance abusers, from alcohol through the really hard
stuff. The book also points out that for the most part,
those who abuse substances had an underlying mental illness
before they added the burden of substance abuse to their
problems. Not only that, but that there is a statistical
correlation between the type of substance of choice, and
the specifics of the related mental illness.

What the book doesn't cover, but I have found in a
limited number of cases I've personally observed, is that
deep seated long term irrational hatred is invariably
comorbid with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and
mental illness. The saddest part, in my opinion, is that
such hatred only manifests in high functioning individuals.
And since this is an opinion of mine, I'll go so far as
to say that such hatred is quite simply a redirected
self-loathing that allows the individual with the problems
to function as well as they do.

I could easily name a handfull or two of such individuals
I've encountered in my lifetime, but to do so would be of
no benefit to anyone. I mention this matter here because
I've seen it in Iron County in a higher proportion than I
have in other places I've lived. I suspect this is because
there is less of an opportunity for success in this
economically depressed region.

Bill Vajk

Blog Archive