Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is Iron County Going to the Dogs?

The following article was presented to Iron
County Doings for publication by Mare and
Tom Peterson, its authors.



I think that the Iron County (MI)
Prosecutor’s office, staffed by Prosecutor
Melissa Powell Weston (P57048) and Assistant
Prosecutor Lisa Brouilette (P42717) caused
an area resident, Roger Barrette, to be
placed under false arrest, criminally charged,
tried and convicted for acts for which he
could not be held culpable pursuant to Michigan
Statute. Court records for case number 09-5265
can be obtained through the Clerk of the Court,
95B District Court, Iron County Courthouse,
2 South 6th Street, Crystal Falls MI 49920. I
base this complaint on my understanding of
Michigan’s Dog Law of 1919, Act 313 of 1919.

On March 9, 2010, my husband and I were in
the Iron County Courthouse for a hearing on
a civil matter before Iron County’s Unified
Trial Court Judge Joe Schwedler (P26055).
That hearing ended just before the Barrette
trial was to begin. Interested in learning
more about state and county law concerning
animal control, we decided to observe the
trial. What we saw and heard for two days
was a demonstration of malicious prosecution,
replete with what would prove to be
unsubstantiated assertions made by prosecutor
Brouilette as though she and she alone had
seen the defendant commit a crime on October 9,
2009. In fact, it can be said that only
Mr. Barrette and his neighbor’s dog “know” what
happened between them, as there were no other
witnesses identified at trial. We are
embarrassed to be represented by a prosecution
who affords a presumption of innocence to an
Iron County co-worker’s untagged dog running at
large but flagrantly denies a human being the
same presumption of innocence—particularly when
the untagged dog running at large is trespassing
on the human being’s private property.

Equally egregious is the fact that the
prosecution, having misapplied the law to begin
with, went on to misrepresent the law itself,
both to the judge and to the jury—in a two day
trial, no less—at considerable taxpayers expense.
It is clear to us that Mr. Barrette committed no
crime as defined under the law, had the incident
been appreciated correctly. Also, when Judge
Schwedler permitted the prosecutor to bring the
dog into the courtroom, he allowed the dog’s
reputation to have standing more favorable than
that of the defendant whom prosecutor Brouilette
said was lying. After all, how absurd would it
have been for Mr. Barrette’s attorney, John Berry
(P34268), to challenge the dog’s honesty!

Shortly after Mr. Barrette’s trial, I had a chance
encounter with the jury foreman who told me things
about the jury’s deliberation and the reasons for
the verdict. I have reported, in writing, the
nature of his remarks to the Iron County
prosecutor’s office and have been told that I
would have to bring my concerns to the defense
attorney Berry since the prosecution had won and
would not pursue mistrial. Believing that this
is a case of prosecutorial misconduct causing
a miscarriage of justice, I have given the same
writing to Mr. Barrette for his information and
use. My husband and I had no previous relationship
with Roger Barrette prior to this trial. Yet so
unrighteous was the prosecutor’s attack on his
character and so outrageously specious was her
closing argument, we have decided to bring this
matter to the Attorney Grievance Commission with
a request for investigation with the hopes of
ensuring the future integrity of the Iron County
system of justice and possibly mitigating the
damage already suffered by Mr. Barrette and his

We wish it were possible for us to provide the
Commission with transcripts of the proceedings
but we do not have the means to pay for copies
of what we understand are almost 400 pages.
However they can be obtained from the Clerk of
the Court whose address is listed above. The
date of the incident was 10-10-2009. The dates
of the trial are 3-9 and 3-10-2010. The date
of sentencing is 03-29-2010.

s- Mare Peterson and Tom Peterson

Monday, July 26, 2010

For Eyes Only

For some time we've had two eye doctors serving
folks in Iron River. Recently Dr. Bathje's
practice was closed and combined with that of
Dr. Atanasoff.

The history is just a bit more complicated.

Several years ago, Dr. Mark Stempihar, an
ophthalmologist who does eye surgery, had an
arrangement with the hospital here in Iron
River. He did surgeries here, locally, for
those folks for who needed it.

Then for some reason no one is talking about,
a typical Iron County unofficial secret, the
good doctor and the hospital had some sort
of falling out, after which Stempihar's
practice was only available at Grand View
Hospital, at Ironwood.

Dr. Stempihar continued to visit Iron River
and took referrals for surgery from both
Bathje and Atanasoff.

The two local eye doctors tried for several
years to cut a deal with Iron County
Healthcare, and its successor Northstar, to
combine practices under the hospital's
umbrella. Alas it was all to no avail.

But the merger did eventually take place
under the auspices of Grand View Hospital.
Their sign is not on the door. But we are
led to wonder why it is that a hospital
some 90 miles away saw the need for complete
eye care for our aging population, and found
it economically advantageous to get into the
business here in Iron County, while our local
hospital, underwritten through municipal
bonding of the City of Iron River (both alleging
to serve the public)failed to seize the
advantage of being local and take charge of
businesses offering themselves to being taken

Properly operated, the eye business here in
Iron County offers a positive cash flow in
an economic climate that doesn't have much
to offer, and Northstar Health Systems is in
financial trouble and need. But true to the
local paradigm favoring failures the hospital
passed up yet another opportunity leading to

I am pleased to hear that Grand View has hired
a retinologist, the first in Michigan's entire
Upper Peninsula, and that he will be accepting
appointments right here in Iron River. That
will save those who need these services from
traveling to Wausau or Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, I spent
a few hours at Rhinelander in a retinologist's
waiting room that held at that moment 6
individuals from Iron River

We are an aging population here in Iron
County. One wonders why so little is locally
attuned to that fact.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Lesson From The Roman Empire

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned
to repeat it. Well that’s an adage from George
Santayana (1863-1952) that has been proved many
times over. The only miracle is that it took so
long for someone to formalize the idea.

In my lifetime, very little has been discussed
about the economic impacts of slavery. One of the
books I acquired along the way is “Our Nation’s
Heritage” (1925, American Book Company, New York)
which was a school textbook at one time at Fence.
As a common teaching of facts in the 1920’s, the
book discusses the fact that as the Roman Empire
was winding down, the “free” labor of the slaves,
that had for a couple of hundred years replaced
paid labor, was shrinking because the Empire was
not so much at war as it had been in earlier times,
and warfare was the main source for slaves.

As the economy was contracting, the ruling class
became aware that they were headed into a period
where necessary goods, from food to clothing, would
become impossible to buy because as the slaves were
dying off there was no one to replace them.

Rome then passed laws, and provided oversight
throughout the empire, to assure that if a man were
a farmer, that’s the only career permitted for his
sons. Shoemakers, and tradesmen of all sorts, found
that their children were not permitted to better

Much has been made in the 20th century about the
evils inherent in slavery. Nevertheless, it is an
institution that has been around for most of the
history of mankind. While slavery is generally
thought of as the outright ownership of one human
being by another, over time mankind has discovered
and created a different form of slavery best
described as economic enslavement.

In economic enslavement, the “owner” has no actual
investment in the slave, but reaps all the benefits
without acquiring any of the liabilities. If an
employer pays minimum wage (and in the case of
illegal immigrants they often pay less) and it
takes all 10 members of a family to earn a poverty
level of living for the group, that’s no skin off
the employer’s nose.

What has happened in the US is that inexpensive
shipping has brought even cheaper labor on the
Pacific rim into our economic sphere. While our
southern border brings us more illegal immigrants
every day, all of our significant manufacturing has
moved overseas, leaving us with millions of people
who are now partly entitled, and after the next
round of amnesty for illegal immigrants will become
100% entitled to government handout programs.

We have a growing number of individuals with no
possible way remaining to support their eventual
entitlements. Heck, we can’t afford the entitlements
we already have. Look at California and Michigan!

Rome solved her economic problems by creating a
working class. The demand for the locally produced
goods was already there and no entitlement programs
existed, making their problems far simpler.
The problems in the US could be similarly solved
by the imposition of protective tariffs, bringing
manufacturing home once more and removing the
Pacific rim from our economic sphere. Similarly we
could exempt Mexico from protective tariffs,
thereby encouraging investment in manufacturing
there, and encouraging low wage illegal immigrant
workers in the USA to return home before shutting
the southern border.

Once those things are achieved, we could impose
protective tariffs on Mexican goods, and bring all
manufacturing work home to the US if that’s what
our population and economy require for best

Being “the nice guy” in a world that marches to the
beat of a different drummer is what has brought the
US, and the world economy, to the edge of economic
ruin. There are only two choices available. 1) Take
control of our own economy before world economic
collapse, or 2) take control of our own economy
after world economic collapse.

Wake up! Wake up America and smell the coffee!

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ObamaCare Report from Cato Institute

The first report I've seen published about the
Health Care law is available on the Cato
Institute web page. Please copy the link into
your web browser in order to read it.


Bill Vajk

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Need a Doctor?

June 5, 2010

I have cardiac rehab exercises at the
Northstar Health System (the renamed
hospital at Iron River) three times a
week. It’s a pleasurable exercise, but
necessary, on the tread mill and
stationary bike. Heartbeat during
exercise is monitored to determine that
all is well. After the workout, I go
to the café for coffee and then down
the hall to exit through the lobby. As
I passed by the “first impression”
position (i.e., the receptionist) I
heard her say something very disturbing.
An older lady had come in and told the
receptionist that she needed a doctor.

The reply was “there are no doctors here
today.” The lady looked frail and
slightly bent over the counter and seemed,
even to a layman like me to be in need of
medical attention, but the answer was still
the same, no doctors here. She was told to
look somewhere (I couldn’t hear where) to
find an M.D. As I listened it seemed that
she was out of luck today but tomorrow she
could come back.

My sympathy for the lady tool over and I
spoke to a few people in the lobby about
what was taking place. They agreed with
me that it was a terrible injustice and
that the $18 million renovations did
nothing but enhance the looks of the
facility in Iron River. If you find you
are in need of a doctor, please make sure
it’s on a regular work day, not a day
after a holiday or on some weekends. You
may be left as this poor lady was.

I wish I had stayed longer and had
gotten the lady’s name so that I could
keep track of how she finally got the
treatment she needed.

Gloria Vajk

(Editor’s Notes: The hospital has
experienced a loss from operations of
$ 463,000 for the three months ending
March 31, 2010. The hospital has a
municipal bond relying on the City of
Iron River in the amount of $ 23,150,000
(that’s 23 million dollars, folks) yet
almost every measurement like patient
admissions and so forth have been
dropping for the duration of the reports
filed as required of all those who have
a municipal bond. This community has a
hospital and we need a regional hospital,
but offhand it looks like we have a
financial disaster in the making. How
much money did the Hospital spend this
year giving the employees gratuities
during “Hospital Week?” How much has
the hospital spent on frillish outdoor
décor this year? Have the “city fathers”
been paying attention to what’s going on
here? Are we in for another of the sorts
of surprises that the City of Crystal
Falls recently experienced? Do we like
the fact that the chairman of the hospital
board of directors is also the City of
Iron River’s attorney? What of the recent
ethics ordinance passed by the city council?
I was asked to write a favorable piece
about the hospital’s foundation that seeks
contributions, but under the current
circumstances of apparent mismanagement I
sincerely regret I am unable to do so.
http://tinyurl.com/2ajhgfd and
http://tinyurl.com/32blmp8 – Bill Vajk)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More City of Iron River Nastiness

The summer tax bills have been issued.

MCL 211.44a(5) says, in part, "Interest shall
be added to taxes collected after September 14
at that rate imposed by section 78a on
delinquent property tax levies that became a
lien in the same year."

With the intention of causing confusion among
taxpayers, the following statement is printed on
the tax bills sent out to property owners by the
City of Iron River:

2011 PAY TAX, 1% ADM. FEE & 2% PENALTY.
FALLS, MI 49920."

Under the state statute, the tax money is due to the
city on July 1, but no penalties are imposed until
September 15. The City of Iron River clearly is
willfully in violation of the state law. This,
unfortunately, is not the only time and place
they're violating state law.

You can find the statute on the internet at:


Bill Vajk

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