Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pop Up Tax

I happened on a copy the April 2010 issue of Mrs.
McGregor's Fiftyplus news publication. It is a bit
pricey to subscribe. In a recent conversation it
came to my attention that people at my stage of
life have concerns about leaving property to their
descendants because of the tremendous increase in
property taxes the next generation will experience.
In my case there is no one who wants to keep any
property I own here in Iron County so any tax problem
on property I bequeath will be quite temporary.

There's an article in Mrs. McGregor's addressing the
issues. It turns out, according to the article, that
by adding loved ones to the title as joint tenants
with full rights of survivorship, you can avoid the
actual transfer of the property because your name is
still on the title. An appeals court decision in the
case of Klooster v. City of Charlevoix ruled that
death does not trigger the tax for joint property.

I am not a lawyer and this second hand report of a
technique is not legal advice. Please consult a
competent lawyer for legal advice in matters such
as are discussed here. That being said, there is
always a danger that the legislature will act to
close this "loophole" so if you have property to
leave to your favorites, don't wait. The cited case
has a date of December 15, 2009. The Court decided
that since the inheritance is not an intentional
conveyance, the pop up tax does not apply to jointly
held property with survivorship.

The article goes on to discuss other solutions and
restrictions so if you want the full discussion,
please acquire a copy of the publication.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CCX needs our attention

The Chicago Carbon Exchange needs our attention.

There's no need for me to comment on the details
as most people haven't heard about the next
"______gate" debacle to be unleashed.

Background reading may be found on the web at
written in sufficient detail:


Bill Vajk

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Iron County School Employee Health Insurance

Iron County School District employees enjoy,
for the most part, a subsidy to help pay for
their health insurance costs amounting to a
Thousand Dollars a month or more. I think
health insurance is important but I think
that the public at large should see these
numbers as a matter of routine rather than
having to go through a Freedom of Information
(FOIA) process to get it in the first place.

The problem is, of course, that the general
public isn't used to having to do their own
work in these regards, usually the local news
media brings such information to them as a
matter of routine business. But unfortunately
that isn't true in much of rural Michigan, and
so on occasion places like Mackinac Center
bring such matters to the public attention.

The relevant information for Iron County may be
found at click here

The entire Mackinac Center database may be accessed
by clicking over here

It might be interesting to see how Iron County
compares to the school districts.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Straight Talk by John Menghini

Straight Talk
by John Menghini

First of all, I am not a politician. I am not
a crusader. I am not a Democrat nor a Republican.
I am an American, a husband, and a father. I am
also someone who values their freedoms and
doesn't take very kindly to being pushed around.

There is a proposal that is going to be
discussed at the next Iron River Township board,
that is scheduled for May 11th at 6:00 P.M. at
the town hall on Gibbs City Rd. This is the so
called "blight ordinance" which was presented to
the board by Bob Battye, Committee Chairperson
of the PZO Committee.

It is a not so thinly veiled attempt by certain
persons to give the township the legal authority
to determine what you are allowed and not allowed
to have on your land.

In "straight talk" it means that each and every
vehicle, mobile home, camper, rv, truck, car,
or trailer HAS to be licensed, insured, and
*operable. *If it is not all of the above, you
can be fined up to $500.00. The key word here
is operable. If you have a vehicle in need of
repair, it is not considered operable, and you
will have 14 days to either repair it or remove
it from your property. Unless you have it in a
garage or approved storage building. If you
can't meet those conditions the township will
have legal authority to have it removed from
your property at your cost.

In "straight talk" it means that if you have
ANY type of building material on your property
and it is not in a garage or approved storage
building, you can be fined up to $500.00. Do
you have some scrap boards around that you
are using for kindling or camp fire wood? Do
you have any cement blocks or bricks in your
yard? A sheet or two of plywood? A can of
screws or nails? According to this blight
ordinance, you could be fined up to $500.00.
And that is just for the first offense.

In "straight talk" what this means for
EVERY resident or land owner in Iron River
Township is that it will be up to someone
else to determine what you will have and what
you will not have on land that YOU own and
pay taxes on. You don't have to take my word
for it either, the actual proposal can be
seen here. blight ordinance

In "straight talk" what this means is that while
our young soldiers are risking life and limb
(and far too many losing it) to promote freedom
and democracy in the Middle East, some people
back home are trying to take our freedoms away
one step at a time. And it is time for this to
stop. This proposal has not yet been passed, and
it is our duty as citizens of the United States
of America to see that it doesn't pass.

In "straight talk" that means that every land
owner, resident, and tax payer in Iron River
Township needs to be at the May 11th meeting
to make our voice be heard, and heard loudly.
There should be no doubt left in the mind of
the board members where we stand on this. Let's
work together to keep America the Land of the Free!

For your information the board members and their
phone numbers are as follows. This is public
information available on the Iron River Township
website. Keep in mind that this proposal has not
passed yet, and I am not suggesting that anyone
call these people and harass them, but if you are
not able to attend the next meeting there is more
than one way to make your voice be heard.

Supervisor Mark Polley 906-367-0657
Clerk Amber Laturi 906-265-5954
Treasurer Nancy Clements 906-265-4473
Trustee Al Froblem 906-265-2748
Trustee Ken Piwarski 906-265-6152
Zoning Ron Simmons 906-265-9394

s/John Menghini

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Iron River Township - blight ordinance?

I was given a coy of the proposed Iron River Township
blight ordinance. If I had to give this thing a grade
as a school paper I would have to grade it as a
negative number, a -50.

It is not only poorly written it is also a displaced
rendition of a significantly populated living and
lifestyle document. In no way does it come close to
encompassing any number of legitimate country living
lifestyles in a community that not only has a
collapsing population but also has no viable economic
future for the residents as things stand.

It is, in a word, idiotic.

I could see a banning of trash and/or junk of any
sort that is visible from a public roadway, but
not the nonsense this proposed ordinance has in it.

You can find a copy at proposed_ordinance

Bill Vajk

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tea Party, etc.

The Tea Party movements across the USA are growing
in numbers and in self-declared membership. National
polls are downplayed by the US administration and the
congressionally elected. This is a movement that has
come about too late to prevent the mess we find
ourselves in. The American electorate has been poorly
educated over the past several decades about the role
that citizens necessarily play in our government, and
has fallen victim to our historical national smugness.

I attended last month's Americans for Constitutional
Enforcement (ACE) meeting at Iron Mountain. The speaker
came from the Upper Peninsula Liberty Alliance and he
did a nice job of delivering an inspiring address.

The problem is, of course, that all such meetings to
date seem to me to be "more of the same." All that such
groups seem to stand for is getting the electorate
inspired to get out to vote. In that, the people
sponsoring the meeting and delivering the address with
lofty goals (get elected precinct captain for your
party by applying before May 11) were mostly wasting
their breaths, preaching to the choir. I needn't have
taken the trip to the meeting to get that message when
we have the internet and newspapers at our disposal.

Voting and participating in non-responsive political
parties is important, and the people at the meeting
already do as much of that as is possible given our
99.999% inactive political parties here in Iron County.
The problem is that's where these groups stop when
so much more is sorely needed.

Voting is clearly not enough. If it were, we would
not have as destitute and corrupt a series of
governments here in Iron County. The larger part
of the elected officials here in Iron County are
doing Boss Hawg proud. What we really need badly is
to hold our elected officials feet to the fire, to
force them to listen to our demands, and to force
the growth and improvements in the economic health
of our communities by demanding specific behaviors
from the elected officials. Either that, or fire the

Here's a current example of the sort of thing that's
happening right now. Ever since a new airport, by
and for the Iron County Board of Commissioners, was
shouted down approximately a decade ago, the county
board and their employees have been quietly going
about researching the possibilities for a new airport,
despite the electorate's clear statement that we don't
need or want one.

I think anything that helps grow the local economy is a
good thing. But the county board has, so far, failed to
show any way in which a new airport would help the
economy, and has also failed to demonstrate how such
an airport would be self sustaining. I brought a trolley
project proposal to the City of Iron River a few years
ago, and it was in the end shot down by the city
administration who through slight of hand deemed it
not self-sustaining despite the fact that the overall
plan was.

The same probably cannot be said of a new airport, but I
await the Economic Development Corporation's (EDC)
demonstration, on paper, that a new airport is anything
but a playground for the few wealthy who desire to involve
themselves with Iron County, bringing their $5 and one
pair of underwear, and not changing either while they
are here.

When the EDC can show how a new airport will support itself
once the initial grants are expended, I'll come back aboard
and support such a project. In the meantime, if we have
folks with planes too large to land at the two, count
them -- we already have two airports in Iron County, then
tell those folks to come here in a smaller airplane.

There's nothing in any mandate by the voters that says we
owe anyone an airport built to their liking. If the county
board shows someone has a financial interest in building
and supporting an airport with commercial viability, then
this is a project worth the time it takes to look at the
proposals. In the meantime this remains another EDC dream
with no foundation and no substance to support it.

ACE and Tea Party activity has positive values in our
society, and I support them, but they're nowhere nearly
enough. We, the citizens, need to wrest control of our
government back by positive action, by speaking out, by
demanding responsiveness from elected officials, every
day, not just on election day. There's a lot of damage that
elected officials can do between elections if the citizens
don't ride herd on them. How much time and money has Iron
County wasted on an airport project in the past decade? Do
we want this type of corruption and waste to continue? Are
you, a citizen, willing to help bring such stuff to a halt?

Consider what sort of projects bringing real benefit to
the citizens of Iron County could have been undertaken

Bill Vajk

Thursday, April 15, 2010


As we experience presidents during their term in office,
we are led to wonder which of their statements will be,
in the end, definitive of their leadership. Yesterday, in
a press conference winding down the nuclear summit
he hosted, President Obama stated what I think will,
in the end, define his presidency.

"It is a vital national security interest of the United States
to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not,
we remain a dominant military superpower. And when
conflicts break out, one way or another, we get pulled
into them."

-Barack Obama April 14, 2010

This statement has so many layers of ideology in
it that my comments cannot do it justice without
writing an entire book on the topic. That being said,
I think it is best left to each reader to see what they
see in it. Obama's statement is memorialized here
because it is important.

Bill Vajk

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nepotism 101

Iron County has a clear demonstration of nepotism
in the employment of Tom King, the dog catcher who
doesn't do his job. He is the son of Rosalie King, chair
of the Iron County Board of Commissioners.

I recently received a reply to an FOIA request from
Sue Clisch. One line in the reply is troubling:

"Apparently when the animal facility at Minerals Closed,
(sic) a number of records were lost during the move."

The Iron County dogcatcher is not very busy. Given the
small amount of real work done by Mr. King, it seems
that making certain his records went from one site to
the other should have been a simple task. In my opinion,
Mr. King is not competent to perform the functions that
the job requires. I further believe that if the job had been
filled by someone other than a family member of someone
on the board of commissioners, they'd have been replaced
long ago.

I received a report that the existing dogcatcher records have
been turned over to the Iron County Sheriff. Is this a political
maneuver designed to compensate for incompetence?

The fact that Mr. King remains in this appointed position is
evidence of nepotism. We'll expose other examples of how
machine politics and nepotism operate in Iron County in
future articles. The King example encompasses these things,
with raw nepotism clearly defined.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Odds & Ends

Odds & ends, bits and pieces of Iron County news that
should receive attention.

Wardo's Closing

We have a community with a collapsing population. The
current estimate is some 12,800 souls living here. The
last of the big stores selling non-essential goods in
the county, Wardo's, is conducting their store closing
sale. With gasoline prices headed well above a $3 per
gallon price, tourism will be down yet again. Timber
sales, and the businesses feeding it, will probably
not recover for some time, if ever.

It is no wonder Wardo's is closing. We also have too
many banking facilities, too many supermarkets, and too
many gas stations, to be sustained by a decreasing
population. This is not the end of businesses closing
in Iron County.

Unless something happens, like a significant investment
in manufacturing, we will become almost exclusively
bedroom communities.

West Iron District Library

Several years ago I purchased a book called "Sources of
Our Liberties" for circulation in the community. I begins
with the Magna Carta of 1215 AD and traces, through
important documents, the sources of our liberties through
the ages in between.

I asked the librarian at the West Iron District Library
if they would be interested in the book for their
reference section, and the answer was yes. So I donated
it to them.

Last week I went looking for it. In a discussion among
friends a question came up about how the important
elements of the US Constitution could be taught here in
Iron County. To my dismay the book is not in the library's
collection. They "weeded" it. I saw plenty of space in
their minuscule "reference section" but someone felt
there's no need in people in the county having access
to basic information about the struggles that were
undertaken by American ancestors to provide for the
liberties we have. Instead, a book titled "Dummies Guide
to Civil Liberties" is in their collection.

When the library has lowered expectations of the people
in the community, that's what we'll have. I am done with
any sort of support for the West Iron District Library
and intend to establish some form of privately endowed
lending library that the community can permanently rely
on for non trivial texts. After all, one of the world's
finest library systems, the New York Public Library, is
privately endowed, without a single penny of public
funds going to its support and expansion.

I'd love to hear from like minded individuals.

Apathetic Voters

Al and Gail found this web page that describes the
consequences to one community of apathetic voters. I've
read it and recommend that all voters from Iron County
read it.

The Drunk Judge Rumor

Over the past two or so years I've wasted a lot of time
chasing down the truth of statements made to me by
various individuals about Judge Schwedler's alleged
drinking and DUI's. I've gone to every surrounding
county and inquired at the jails and at their court
systems, finding nothing about the rumors.

It is my opinion that Judge Schwedler does not belong
on the bench, and I have filed as story in this blog
about it. I have it on good authority that others have
also filed, or will soon be filing, Judicial Tenure
Commission complaints. There is, in my opinion, plenty
of strong reason already available to remove the man
from the bench.

Today I give up chasing the alcoholism rumors, each
of which dissolved into nothingness as I pursued them.
If anyone has reliable, provable, evidence along the
lines of the highly popular rumors that have been
prevalent in Iron County regarding our Judge, please
present it. I will no longer listen to or care about
the rumors. I will no longer expend my time or energy
chasing them. We have no need of such rumors especially
when there is such flagrant misconduct on the bench
that we should be able to get him removed by other

Water Leaks

Recently Iron River Township discovered a leak under
US2 in the 2 inch pipe feeding three homes on my side
of the highway.

Once dug up, they discovered that three taps, each
3/4 inch, had been made in the 4 inch main, feeding
copper lines that rejoined in galvanized pipe, then
a cutoff, and finally a 2 inch galvanized pipe
crossing under the highway.

The decision was made to slide an inch and a quarter
plastic line through the 2 inch in order to feed
these three homes. The copper lines were cut and
spliced, feeding into a new galvanized header with
3 valves in the 3/4 copper lines.

Yes, this system emplaces again the same future
disaster of creating an underground dissimilar metals
battery. The electrical differential always eats away
the galvanized pipe. But the decisions made by the
township are once again the same short sighted ones
made 50 years ago, that everyone involved
will probably be dead by the time the problem
surfaces again.

Permanent solutions could have been had with only
a slight increase in cost. The biggest part of the
costs to make the repairs were in labor, and the same
will be true the next time around. What hasn't
changed in 50 years is the corporate culture that
keeps giving us repetitive failures. There are a
lot of 2 inch galvanized highway crossings in
this township. One has to guess they're all done
the same way. The current administration is dooming
future ones the same way past administrations doomed
this one.

And so it goes....

Bill Vajk

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