Thursday, August 27, 2009

Iron County - Iron River Tax Flap, Page 2

As we reported earlier, Iron County has withheld
collected taxes from the Cities of Caspian and
Iron River.

The Iron County Board of Commissioners sent a
letter over the Chair's signature (Rosalie A
King) advising several Iron River officials
that the County Board has scheduled a special
meeting to discuss TIF fund issues with the
city of Iron River on September 1, 2009, and
9:00 AM at their usual meeting place in the
courthouse in Crystal Falls.

This impromptu announcement by the county board
brought a responding letter from the city manager
John Archocosky advising the county board that
pertinent city personnel will be unable to attend
because of prior scheduling commitments and that
if the county board would like to meet with city
representatives the city requests someone coordinate
a time that makes it possible for those invited to
attend the meeting.

These two documents are available for your review
by clicking here

Bill Vajk

Message to Mike Cox on His Candidacy

Mike Cox is running for governor of
Michigan. Too bad, really. I sent him
the following message on September 24th,


You have refused to involve yourself in
local government imposing illegal charges
on residents in the UP. The Readiness to
Serve tax disguised as a fee has spread
to virtually every community without a
whimper from your office. Iron River's
"nuisance" ordinance copies a state law
that you have permitted to continue to
stand where a municipality is, by statute,
authorized by the legislature to ignore
Michigan and Federal Constitutional
requirements for providing notice before
acting. I am a life-long Republican, but
I cannot support your candidacy based on
your ongoing ignoring of these issues
that allows local governments to take
money out of my pocket illegally.

I am not simply a single voice. I intend
to actively work against your candidacy
despite my conservatism. You can carry on
about 2nd Amendment issues all you want,
because that will not trump your failure to
fully support the rest of the Constitution.
It is a significant error to ignore voices
like mine.

Bill Vajk

Florence County Leading The Way?

Perhaps when Michigan State University
appoints a new Extension Service Director
(due soon) to the Iron County office,
things like Florence County does routinely
can become 4H or other organizational
youth projects over here on the Michigan
side of the border.

It there's to be an east-west contest in
Iron County Michigan, wouldn't it be better
to have it be with someone, like Florence
County, who is presently leading the way?

Bill Vajk

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yes, dammit, they are actually pulling the plug on Grandpa

(I have published this story elsewhere as well.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yes, dammit, they are actually pulling the plug on Grandpa.

And it isn't the first time either.

When my father died in 1980 I wasn't prepared to be fatherless,
and I was fortunate to meet Alex Zelchenko who became a truly
remarkable friend as well as something of a surrogate father.
Alex lives on Lincoln Avenue, in Chicago.

When Alex was 90 years old, he had some neurological problems
along with gall bladder difficulties. They discovered that he
had some sort of growth in his lung, and another in his brain.
They took care of the gall bladder with an endoscopic extraction
of some gallstones. Alex refused regular abdominal surgery
because his own father had unexpectedly died during an
identical gall bladder surgery. He was ready to fight to live.
But when it came to the tumors, the medical profession and
Medicare wrote him off. Effectively they pulled the plug. They
refused to do anything, even to follow through and properly
diagnose what those growths were, and sent him home to meet
whatever fate befell him without diagnosis let along any medical

Now Alex is 95 years old. He has moments of "normalcy"
and longer periods of old age dementia. Or is it? What would
his quality of life be had they diagnosed that growth in his
brain growth and treated it?

In the meantime he had a brain aneurysm that his wife insisted
must be treated. But his wife is now hospitalized with her own
issues, and a dysfunctional family created such a stink with
infighting among themselves that the court appointed not only
a guardian ad litem but also a medical guardian for Alex and
his wife, Phyllis, who is somewhat younger than Alex.

Alex had a series of neurological symptoms about a week ago.
The medical guardian, appointed by the Illinois courts, said sure,
admit him for diagnosis.

They found a brain tumor again, and a growth in his lung, but they
can't be bothered even to compare the growths to the records of
5 years ago, when they wrote him off the last time.

Who would have thought Alex would survive another 5 years? And
who would have thought he'd actually be able to enjoy those 5 years
in relatively good health for most of that period. Last time it was
the doctors who refused to go further with diagnosis and
treatment, this time, to our collective social shame, it is the state.

Son Gregory, who has an interest (with a degree in) biology and
health asked to look at the films. The court appointed medical
guardian said, "I'm not going to permit you to play doctor."

Why? Are power and control issues more important than doing
the best for Alex? And here I thought a medical guardian is
supposed to stand in the person's shoes, making decisions
for them, without any other considerations! An advocate. Isn't
this medical guardian supposed to be an advocate?

Oh. No. It is because the medical guardian has pulled the plug
on Alex because he's 95 years old and he's supposed to be
dead already. Who the hell is the medical guardian working for
anyway? Perhaps it is inconvenient to the state that Alex is
still alive? Is that the problem? Is that why they are withholding
diagnosis and treatment, now for a second time?

What kind of quality of life can a 95 year old have? Perhaps
the state doesn't consider it worth our time. Alex worked well
past retirement age, and paid into the system much more than
his fair share.

But he's 95 years old, and there's no one, with authority, looking
out for him in his old age.

Folks, this is your future, unless you fix the problem. It doesn't
matter what President Obama says. When the moment of decision
comes, they will pull the plug on Grandma, just like they're doing to
Alex. And some day it will be you.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Talking the Talk Without Walking the Walk

I attended most of the "Americans for Freedom"
meeting at Bates Township Hall this evening.
Unfortunately the arthritis in my neck flared
up (it has been doing that, I have a surgical
consult scheduled in September) and I was forced,
by pain, to leave before the Q&A period at the end.
I look forward to hearing what went on from someone
who stayed to the end.

That being said, I have a few comments to make.

The main speaker ended up being Dan Stafford,
former Iron River Township treasurer, addressing
many of the problems we, the citizens, are
presently experiencing with the political bunch
in Washington. He made a couple of comments that
hit home with anyone who was paying attention
to "how things really work."

Dan addressed his problem of having a really bad
upset stomach before the Township Board meetings
because he knew there was always going to be a

He went on to discuss how the politicians at the
federal level aren't looking out for citizens'
interests but have their own agenda.

I guess it was not obvious to Dan that the reason
why he was having all those fights at the Iron
River Township Board meetings was because he was
not doing what the electorate wanted him to do!

I stopped attending the meetings (I was attending
them when I first moved to Iron County) because I
considered the fights to be inane, and the board
was, in my opinion, unresponsive. I knew that
all that could and would happen was that I would
lose my temper to no avail.

One of Dan's points during his speech to the
assembled group was that we need a reduction in
the size and scope of the federal government.

Let's take a look at the Township Board's
performance during the period he was the

Here's the unreserved fund balance reported
for the period:

2004 $ 844,729
2005 862.478
2006 918,397
2007 1,015,357
2008 1,157,425

Stafford did not run for re-election in
the November 2008 election. But the fund
continues to grow.

June 30,2009 1,167,622

This is all with an increase in taxes of 2 mils
that the township has tried, in two elections,
to get renewed, with a threat that they would
continue to place this on every ballot till it
gets passed. AND along with this was a
significant increase in the water bill for all
who are being thus served.

And then the current board has the audacity to
refuse to make repairs to a Township owned
building, Beechwood Hall, asking the voters
to approve an additional tax to make needed
repairs. This is the sort of irresponsibility
that will lead to demolition of a perfectly
useful facility after it becomes a blight,
because of personal bias by board members
against the use of this building by west end
Beechwood residents.

In the end, it is apparent that Dan Stafford
preaches a different story from the one that
he himself lives. It is different from the
personal agenda he imposed on Township
residents while he held political office. He
talks the talk, but he does not walk the walk.

As they say in Brooklyn, "So what else is new?"

That's not to say that what Dan said didn't make
good sense, it did. I find it sad that even
while knowing what "should be," he was unable to
deliver it.

This, unfortunately, seems to be the general case
in politics today.

Bill Vajk

A Symptom

Why do you suppose it is that Iron County
has no "Welcome Wagon?"

Bill Vajk

Thursday, August 13, 2009

WE Energies - Requested Rate Increases

There's only one word for this.


We live in a capitalistic society. That means
that a firm trying to do business in this society
has shareholders who invest money in the basics
that constitute that business. Goods,
infrastructure, payroll, and whatever else is
necessary in any given instance. And sales are
designed to include profit, yielding the basic
reason for shareholder investment in the first

The decision to invest in a new huge power
generating plant has a number of elements
driving the decision whether to build such a
facility or not.

First, is there either growth in demand for power
that will justify the investment based on increasing
sales? Or, the other justification, has the existing
infrastructure gotten so old that replacement is a
necessary expenditure?

Based on these two, the analysis either justifies
shareholder investment, or it does not.

WE Energies appears to have latched on to some other
criteria as justification to build a new power plant,
but cannot justify it under the only criteria that
makes any economic sense. So they now approach the
Public Service Commission in order to increase
utility rates to pay for a new power plant that is
an investment not available through the shareholders.

As an electrical energy consumer in the region served
by WE Energies I have a couple of very simple questions
to ask.

1) What am I getting in return for increased rates?

The answer is, nothing.

2) If I am paying for this generating power plant, where
is my return on the investment?

The answer is, it doesn't exist. This rate increase is
nothing more than a bottomless pit wanting to be filled.

WE Energies recommends their customers make changes to
power consumption habits in order to reduce our monthly
costs. But, if successfully implemented, what that results
in eventually is an overall reduction in consumption with
an accompanying request from WE Energies for another rate
increase in order to maintain former profit levels.

This request is nonsensical. The management and
shareholders want to increase production capacity
without increasing sales and to reach into customer
pockets to pay for this excess capacity that we
will not be utilizing.

Here's the hook you're looking for.

Once this excess capacity is available, WE Energies
will likely sell that power to other regions of the
country at lower rates than we are paying because
we are subsidizing the excess capacity. It will
likely be resold at retail through unregulated
utility companies where profit is not reportable
to any state regulatory agency, making this a scam
worthy of a Bernie Madoff.

I urge the Wisconsin and Michigan regulatory agencies
to thoroughly investigate interlocking boards of
directors between WE Energies and unregulated
electrical power providing utilities in other

In the meantime, I urge the Michigan Public Service
Commission to deny the rate increases requested for
the addition of this coal fired generating facility
by WE Energies.

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nationalization, don't be fooled by the silence

Despite all the pretty words wrapped around the
so called bailout of General Motors and Chrysler,
the simple fact is that they have become
nationalized. Such a move was unthinkable in any
time period in United States history other than
right now.



That's a word that is reserved to communism and
communist nations, not democracies.

OK, that's done.

At the present moment, most of the residents of
United States are strongly engaged in the
arguments over nationalizing health care. That's
right, nationalizing.

First they try to sell the idea of a single payer
insurance system, that being the US government.
But in the end, as reimbursement for services is
cut, the only way to have a health care system at
all is to take over the day to day operation of
the whole thing. That means the US government will
end up owing and operating every doctor's office,
every hospital, and every lab. Nationalized with
the US government, that is all of us, their

The system that has to result from the government
running the insurance end of the medical business
will end up looking like the failed eastern European
health care branches of government.

One has to take pause for a moment and ask, "why
copy a failed system?"

It is a matter of power and control. The USA has
no direct experience with communism and socialism,
so it appears we, as a people, are going to be
forced to taste it.

Eastern Europe had a really difficult time with
democratization, including getting rid of nationalized
health care. Our stupid American communists continue
to believe in the righteousness of that system, and
those who don't recognize the government takeover
of the nation's means of production, and health care,
and shortly energy (using cap and trade) are dupes
and fools.

Republicans have failed the nation. Democrats are on
the verge of doing so.

Political theory holds that there is a predictable
sequence on the types of governance for any given
nation. Beginning with monarchy, that evolves into
democracy. Eventually socialism, then communism
takes root, and if at all possible, anarchy, until
a strong man grabs power as a dictator.

It looks like we're going to skip past socialism
quickly enough and head straight into communism. I
wonder how fast the US will cycle through before
we get back to democracy once again and, most
important of all, will 200+ years of successful
history have any effect at all? This bunch in the
white house and congress are completely ignoring

Those of you depending on veteran's benefits for
health care, how long do you think that's going to
stay in effect once the government takes over health
care? One nation, one people, one health care system.
It has to happen. Don't be fooled by the silence.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Michigan Municipal League - Page 2

Please take a look at the Michigan Municipal League (MML)
advocacy page at:

There are all sorts of issues that concern municipalities
as well as plenty that don't. Take, for example, SB 986

SB 986
Bill #: SB986
Year: 2007

Bill Summary:

"Bridges that are properly funded first are the
fractured critical bridges. All other bridges
will be put at the bottom of the list."

The MML opposes this bill, a bill that places
public safety before political and financial
considerations. Here is clear evidence that MML
is placing municipal interests above those of the
public the cities, and ultimately they, are
supposed to be serving.

They also oppose SB 1434:

SB 1434
Bill #: SB1434
Year: 2008

Bill Summary:

** Pending Board Approval

"States there would be no driver's license fee
if a person is at 125% poverty level."

What difference does it make to MML and the cities
if whether the state charges our poorest citizens
for a driver's license or gives it to them free?
Doesn't having a driver's license give a poor person
a better chance of getting a job?

It appears that despite their claim to being a
non-profit organization, the MML has been violating
IRS rules by being highly an active political lobbyist

Bill Vajk

July 2009 Iron River Documents - Comment

I received an email with ideas regarding the
article on this subject and it is worth some
discussion. The sender asked that their name not
be used, and so it is not. This article is an
opinion piece and offered as opinions offered
by individuals.

Next, email, with my comments following:


Hello Bill,

No surprise with the resolution on the middle school.
Past history bears out how the school district Iron
River, Stambaugh and now maybe West Iron disposed of
its no longer needed property. The Central School
being the latest and the Lincoln School before.

The Lincoln School was sold to a private individual
who stripped it what he wanted and then was left for
years in disrepair until he was told to raze the
structure or the city would. He razed the building
and left the rubble were you see it now if you drive

The Central School was sold to a prominent individual
who with his sons used it for storage and also stripped
it for their needs. He sold to a (descriptive deleted)
in IR who could not keep it in repair and the city
picked it up and you know the story from there.

As for Nelson field, the schools (Stambaugh and Iron
River) and now West Iron never had a field of their
own and relied on Stambaugh and now Iron River to rent
them Nelson. I do believe West Iron is the only school
district not to have their own football field etc. The
city as in the Managers' report has been waiving or
reducing the rent for a number of years. Now that the
city wants to have the full cost of the rent restored,
the school is calling FOUL.. I do believe they should
pay or no play.

Interesting doc on delinquent tax payment and who or
whom might be trying to retain some money because of
their shortfall. The shortfall being speculation on
my part and the county being in the need of cash to
pay bills??


(signature withheld by request)

PS I would prefer that my name not be made known.



Several of us discussing this as we phone one
another or meet about town have a problem with
the city's resolution as a form of an attempted
restraint imposed by one taxing unit of local
government upon another at the same political

The history above has no bearing on future acts.
We must assume that the West Iron school boards
of the past and their administrations acted in
good faith. No one can ask more than that. The
subsequent history of the former Lincoln and
Central schools is not the responsibility of
the school board, past or present.

The only thing I'm aware of that has liability
reverting to the last known responsible party
is, for some quirky reason, a ladder.

If the City of Iron River is so very concerned
about the Middle School building, then the
hands on responsibly preventive mechanism would
be for the City to procure the property themselves
and see to its disposition as they see fit. I
understand there's an amount of money in the
School District's budget for one year's

If the city takes the building over and cannot,
within some predetermined time frame, find a
suitable owner/tenant then the city will have
some funds available, from the maintenance fund,
towards tearing the building down and holding
the property, a prime commercial site, for future
sale for use once the local economy improves. Or
sell it now at a small price to a land speculator
and start to immediately collect property taxes.

We're talking about an 80 year old building with
all the problems that age entails. I understand
that presently the roof needs repair or replace-
ment. That's not an inexpensive item on a multi-
story building of this size.

There is a sense, repeated to me by others, that
if a reliable purchaser cannot be found promptly,
the building should be demolished.

Bill Vajk

What's Wrong with Iron River 090706 - Part 3

email received August 5, 2009
Subject: Rodeo banner
From: "John Archocosky"
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2009 10:25:16 -0500

Good morning Bill,

After receiving your memo of the posting you published
on July 6th, regarding the rodeo banner, I have been
noticing how other communities mount their banners.

I’ve attached a photo that I took last Saturday evening
as I was passing through Florence. Please excuse the
quality as it was taken with a cell phone camera. This
one particularly caught my attention as you used it as
a good example when you complained about Iron River’s
rodeo banner.



John A. Archocosky, Manager
City of Iron River



Dear John,


You weren't supposed to see that.

best regards


Sunday, August 2, 2009

July 2009 Iron River Documents

Associate Editor Ben Smith brought in four
City of Iron documents issued in July of 2009
that are, for various reasons, worthy of
notice by citizens and voters. The first of
them is a resolution for which I visited
City Hall and got a signed copy to publish.

The documents explain themselves however as
a general question that comes to my mind because
I have my own ongoing disputes with the city,
why is it that these days the City of Iron River
seems to have a beef with just about everyone?

Here's the link to the documents:

Bill Vajk

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