Sunday, June 27, 2010

Iron County Social Reporter

The Iron County Social Reporter

That's what the name of the local newspaper
ought to be based on its content. To be sure
there are reports from some of the official
board and council meetings. The June 23rd
issue held information about the June 8 County
Board meeting, and even at that the article
ends in mid-sentence on page 5, the layout
was so poorly designed.

The county board thinks it will take a year
to create and pass a new solid waste disposal
ordinance. Guess what folks, except for the
favoritism showed to favored disposal firms
in the past, this county doesn't have any real
need for a solid waste ordinance. Just revoke
the thing and let state laws, which supersede
local mandates in every important way, control
what happens. The only reason for creating a
new ordinance is political without any real
benefit to the people of Iron County.

The Adeline Hazel article that graces page 1,
a story about a woman who lived in Iron River
for a while, mentions that "she became an avid
gardener, better known as the 'flower lady' on
the local radio station." Heaven forbid that
the rag mention the radio station by name!
Anyway, this was such an important story that
it graces page 1 complete with a color photo
of Adeline. But there wasn't enough room to
finish the story about the county board meeting!

Another page 1 story is about seeking Miss IC
contestants. "Application must be submitted
along with a $75 sponsor fee, to the Michigan
State University extension office." That smells
wrong to me, doesn't it bother you? It seems to
me that any single woman in the county ought to
be able to enter without paying a fee of any sort
if the winner is going to represent Iron County
officially for a year! The rodeo beauty pageant
doesn't have an entrance fee, why should the
county one? I'm certain that if asked, some
local business would gladly underwrite the
scholarship if only they were asked!

Last but not least, Marian Volek's "Opinion"
piece is another disaster of muddy thinking and
political correctness, heaven forbid any of the
monied friends be upset. A strong part of the
reason that roads in Iron County are in such bad
shape is the fact that the residents purchase
gasoline, as they are able, in other areas,
because usually the local prices have been as
much as 15 cents per gallon higher in Iron County
than they were at Iron Mountain. And why do the
local petroleum retailers charge more? Ask Krist
Oil to explain it. Nobody has ever officially asked
and reported! The problem isn't as Volek claims,
a federal and state issue.

Next Volek justifies the abandonment of segments
of township water systems, saying "but the reality
is, they probably shouldn't have been there in the
first place."

Ms. Volek needs to get facts in place before she
starts writing, sort of like the old admonition
to "engage brain before opening mouth." The reason
that municipal water systems were initiated is that
the mines, by pumping ever deeper and deeper shafts
dry, lowered the regional water tables such that
the people living in the region, all with wells,
ran dry. That's why the mines provided the materials
for the water systems in the first place, and the
reason why the townships gladly provided water service
to the people who lived in such far flung locations.
To voice a judgment of past behavior based on not
knowing, understanding, or caring about the reasons
for water systems being as they are speaks very badly
of our local paper and is a strong part of the reason
it should promptly be renamed the Iron County Social

Bill Vajk

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Iron River sued in Federal Court

I have filed a civil rights lawsuit in the
U.S District Court at Marquette, Michigan.

The defendants are:

City of Iron River, Michigan
Roger Zanon, city councilman
Thomas King, city councilman
Ray Coates, city councilman
Edward Marcell, city councilman
Michael Brozack, city councilman
Suzanne A. Johnson, city treasurer
Richard Anderson, manager of public works
County of Iron, Michigan
Marcia Cornelia, Iron County Treasurer
Michigan Municipal League

The City of Iron River has known for the
better part of two years that this
lawsuit was coming.

A lightly modified copy of the complaint is
available at:

The case number is 2:10-cv-114 and the
judge assigned to the case is
Robert Holmes Bell. The date of filing
is June 15, 2010.

Bill Vajk

No Certification

On June 1st I published a story about a FOIA
request I submitted to the county about the
dog catcher/animal control officer for Iron
County. I closed with the question:

"Is our dogcatcher in his position legally, or
did the county illegally waive the requirements
imposed on them by state law in order to hire
the son of the chairman of the county board of

The answer arrived dated June 15th. There are no
documents laying out the county's hiring policy,
"physical, educational, mental, and moral fitness
minimum standards" for hiring a dogcatcher. Also
there is no documentation of Mr. Tom King ever
having completed a 100 hour instructional course
as prescribed by the Michigan Department of

These are requirements specified in a state
statute, and our dogcatcher doesn't meet those
minimum standards.

So what? Does this really matter? Who cares that
the chairman of the County Board gets her son
hired to the job.

I care, as we all should. This, it tuns out, is
much more than another little bit of corruption
and nepotism. Beside that, Thomas King has not
demonstrated in any way that he is qualified for
the job of animal control officer. Is Mr. King
actually able to qualify by passing a prescribed
course of study?

Earlier this year, the state, through the
prosecutor's office, ran a case through district
court in front of Judge Schwedler, and prosecuted
a man who was bitten by a dog and then stabbed the
dog with an arrow to stop the attack. It is the
case of People vs. Barrette, and a case you'll
be hearing a lot more about in coming months.

Today's report concerns only the simple fact that
Tom King was called by the prosecutor as an
expert witness.

Mr. King does not qualify as the county animal
control officer, and putting him on the stand as
an expert witness, using some presumed but non-
existent credentials to bolster his testimony
constitutes a fraud upon the court by the

That's a fraud upon all of us, because the case
was brought in the name of the people!

Since out illustrious judge sits to advise the
County Board, he either knew or should have known
that presenting King as the animal control officer
was yet another sham, one of many, in the state's
case. He sat silent and permitted the county
prosecutor's office to proceed. What disgusting
conduct on the bench!

I'm sad to say that this speaks ill of the County
Board, Judge Schwedler, Tom King, the Iron County
Sheriff's department, Melissa Powell Weston, the
person I supported for the job of prosecutor some
months back, and Lisa Brouilette, the assistant
prosecutor who conducted the actual case in court.

This is not a case of simply overlooking a requirement
for someone to be hired as animal control officer, it
is the usual case, in Iron County Michigan, of the
collusion of a number of individuals who have been
given a public trust throwing every semblance of
honesty and decency to the winds, because a county
employee's dog, running loose with no license, was

As if that's not enough, there's more to come on this
story which continues to unfold.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MEDC and Iron County Economic Development

Our Iron County Economic Development Corporation
relies heavily on the state's MEDC. This author's
experiences with Iron County's EDC is that
they're particularly transparent.

The following paragraph was most telling about MEDC.

"A 2005 study by the Mackinac Center showed that
MEGA (ed:Michigan Economic Growth Authority) had no
impact on per-capita personal income or job creation.
We did find that for every $123,000 in tax credits
offered, one construction job was created, but 100
percent of those jobs disappeared within two years."

Additional information that reflects poorly on the
MEDC clearly depicts why the state is in trouble
where it comes to jobs:

"Last year, we used a different modeling technique
to isolate MEGA's effects from the larger economy
and found that for every $1 million in tax credits
earned in a county there was an associated loss of
95 manufacturing jobs.

"The Anderson Economic Group study, published in
March and funded by the Michigan Education
Association, found that MEGA and two similar state
programs cost the state 25,000 jobs and $85 million
in tax revenue annually.

"The Upjohn study, published in April, was by far the
most favorable study done. Even so, the authors'
claim that MEGA has created 18,000 jobs since 1996
totals just 1,600 a year on average. If this is the
MEDC's idea of success, we would hate to see their
definition of failure."

The trouble with employment in Michigan has for
decades been that this state married the automobile
business, and everything else fell by the wayside.
Nobody involved with Michigan government has any
idea about how to grow away from the car biz and get
geared up into dealing with a variety. In short one
might say that Michigan was ruined by Henry Ford's
success and the state becoming a hanger on.

I've discussed a feature called "corporate culture"
in this publication before. It is that immovability
in ways of thinking that brings the state to the
current employment debacle, along with the huge
vacant tracts of abandoned homes in the auto
manufacturing districts.

The only solution is to import, and listen to,
development experts from outside the this region.

Give them authority!

This lack of entrepreneurial vision extends from
local city councils, township, and county boards,
upwards. Local governments became accustomed to
suckling at the state's teat, and the state has
run dry.

Bill Vajk

Monday, June 7, 2010

The 'Ick' Test

Newsweek had an article about the Charles Dean
Hood case and suggested that it didn't meet the
"ick' test. The New York Times also discussed it
in an article at that can be found

Hood was tried and convicted in Texas of murder,
and sentenced to death. Without commenting on the
validity of the case itself, the fact that the judge
and the prosecutor had slept together, despite being
married to other partners, throws such a taint over
the entire process that it should be thrown out and
the entire process started from scratch. The case is
well over 20 years old.

There's a certain arrogance about judges and their
misconduct that runs rampant in this country. Even
the US Supreme Court isn't above such arrogance as
they refused to consider the Hood case. Some 21 former
judges and prosecutors filed briefs, along with some
30 experts in legal ethics, all supporting a retrial.
But the Supreme Court didn't want to get involved
despite Hood's previous close calls with the

I was still living in Illinois when a review by the
governor's office of all the death penalty inmates on
death row demonstrated clearly that each had been
wrongfully convicted. DNA evidence played a large role
in a number of cases. There were, at that time, 13
individuals on death row. The next day, death row was
empty, and all 13 had been released to the street
because it was clear that they were innocent. It wasn't
that the conviction was questionable, it was a case
of wrongful conviction in every case. When Blagojevich
took office in Illinois one of his announced priorities
was to fix the broken judicial system such that Illinois
could reinstate the death penalty. He took office in
2003. During the six year period during which he was
governor he was unable to achieve that goal.

The problem, of course, is that when a legal system
gets too efficient it also becomes too easily
corruptible, whether the judge is sleeping with the
prosecutor or not. And at the same time the system,
as a whole, becomes arrogant, unwilling to admit
that errors in judgment can, and do, happen at every
stage of the process.

If we were only dealing with these issues in capital
cases the correction might be easier, but the simple
fact is that we have the same system at work in all
cases, even down to a case as simple and straight
forward as a dog bite, the topic of a multi-part
series of articles that will be appearing here soon.

The only reason that Michigan has not had a drastic
review and revision to the judicial system is that
Michigan has banned capital punishment since 1846 which
itself is a good thing considering how screwed up our
legal system is, but the net result is that corruption
grew quietly and out of the mind and sight of the
majority of our citizens.

It is time. It is past time for a thorough overhaul.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The Iron County Animal Control Officer is the
subject of several upcoming stories. This
article is another example of how the county

I originally sent a Freedom of Information request
to Sue Clisch, the county FOIA officer, by email.
A couple of weeks went by with no response, so I
telephoned. The result of the phone call was a
statement that the request had not been received.
That's the last time I'll count on email to deliver
anything to Iron County

On May 20th I sent a copy through the US Postal
Service. You can read all the documents relevant
to this story in one spot by clicking here.

The text for my FOIA comes directly from Michigan
statute MCL 287.289b which you can read in the third
page in the link above.

On May 28th I received a reply that it would take
more time to provide the answers. It seems to me
that if the county is in compliance with the statute
the county should know it, and should have all the
information at their fingertips. It shouldn't take
research by a number of people and the associated
expense of such a search. It is the business of the
county to comply with the law and to know how and
when the law was complied with.

Is our dogcatcher in his position legally, or did
the county illegally waive the requirements imposed
on them by state law in order to hire the son of
the chairman of the county board of commissioners?

I await the answer to all these questions with baited

Bill Vajk

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