Sunday, November 21, 2010

Michigan's Sacred Cow

The automobile industry has been Michigan's
sacred cow for a long time now. The "Big 3"
market share has been shrinking for a long
time, and it is past time that Michigan
recognize that we cannot afford to skate along
as a one major industry state any longer.

I find that David Littman's analysis of Michigan's
automobile economy is on target while the one from
The Center for Automotive Research has once again
taken a head in the sand political approach to
looking at economic problems.

Michigan had better get used to the idea that
either all large scale manufacturing will
eventually leave this state or right to work
will have to be implemented here. Political
imposition of will over investment capital
only works in the short term. Eventually
capital must flee when faced with such
restrictions as we see in Michigan today.

For those of us old enough to remember
John L. Lewis and the coal miners' union,
we're facing very similar problems here in
Michigan today. The mining industry wanted
some of the corporate profits to be spent on
research and development for new products
from coal to replace the heating demand that
was falling off because it was being replaced
by cleaner oil and natural gas. Lewis and the
union insisted that the workers get every
cent that was available, and that led to the
eventual demise of an entire industry.

Yes, the public always has to support, in
one way or another, the next generation of

Another alternative might be the unbridled
growth of industrial robots. As time has gone
on, such robots perform increasing percentage
of production jobs. It could come that an
entire automobile assembly plant might employ
a few dozen workers, with all the real work
of assembling cars done by robots.

Yes, taxation of such facilities would be
favorable for the state and local governments,
with lots of income and very few people
demanding services in exchange. But then
where would such equipment be built? China

Do we end up with legislated limits on
reproduction such as China has, and has
had for some time now?

We need people work. And to get that we need
rational growth of both industry and population.
Government bailouts, and subsidies, don't get
us there.

Please read the web page I refer to below. And
as you do, remember the TV commercials that had
Lee Iacocca standing in the foreground while
they imploded an obsolete manufacturing facility
in the background? The thinking in among our
government officials looks only so far as the
next election cycle. We need thinking for this
lifetime, and the next.

Bill Vajk

P.S. Taking a page out of Iacocca's book, Iron
River's Middle School should probably be
demolished. Are the local governments going to
keep coming back, hopeful of wearing down the
voters who have now spoken on the issue, and
harass us till we comply with their visions to
support a decrepit building (needs a new roof!)
that was built during the Great Depression some
80 years ago?

What of the vision that the voters have expressed?

It isn't as though there aren't enough vacant
buildings in Iron County to house such business
as are presently inhabiting the Middle School.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Statistically Speaking

No place on earth can be reduced to a statistical
description, but statistics do tell us a lot about
a community.

Every once in a while I run across an interesting
web page about Iron County, and the one I'm pointing
the reader to is one of those. Knowing a little
about local government, you have to wonder where
they got some of those numbers.

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Non-Legal Retribution

On Saturday I filed a motion in the Federal
District Court at Marquette, Michigan. It would
probably be inappropriate for me to comment about
it while the case is before the Court, but I can
share the document with the readers because it
is, after all, a public document and by now all
the parties should have received their copy.

The document may be viewed pasting the following
URL into your browser search line.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another Real Estate Tax Issue

Another issue relating to real estate taxes in
Michigan has been brought to my attention.

State statute relating to one aspect, public
utilities, was ruled on by the Michigan State
Supreme Court on February 5, 2008 in a case
called "Toll Northville Ltd v. Township of
Northville" 734 N.W.2d 902.

State statute MCL 211.34d(1)(b)(vii) reads:

"(viii) Public services. As used in this
subparagraph, "public services" means water
service, sewer service, a primary access road,
natural gas service, electrical service,
telephone service, sidewalks, or street
lighting. For purposes of determining the
taxable value of real property under section
27a, the value of public services is the
amount of increase in true cash value of the
property attributable to the available public
services multiplied by 0.50 and shall be added
in the calendar year following the calendar
year when those public services are initially

The statute can be found at:

The Supreme Court held:

"Because public-service improvements located
on public, easements or land that ultimately
becomes public do not constitute 'additions,'
as that term was understood when Proposal A
was enacted, we affirm the judgment of the
Court of Appeals that MCL 211.34d(1)(b)(viii)
is unconstitutional."

The court's opinion may be found at:

Are most of the properties in the State of Michigan
appraised too high as a result of this court verdict?

Bill Vajk

Monday, November 1, 2010

Midterm Election

There's a midterm election tomorrow. Please
vote. Conservatively speaking, it's the right
thing to do!

It wasn't that long ago that a large portion of
the population in Iron County was riled up and
involved in a recall petition. Wouldn't you think
that for this election the same people would have
candidates all lined up and running for offices?

I haven't seen a sample ballot for this election.
Most places I've lived the newspapers published
them about a week in advance. No such luck here.
So most folks are going to the polls with no idea
about who to elect other than to vote a straight
party ticket and go home for two years.

"If we don't get the millage we asked for, our
municipality will be broke!" That's the news that's
fit to print in this part of the United States.

I guess it is time that the "Taxpayer's Association"
be resurrected, along with the "Upper Peninsula Better
Government Association" in order to foster some
badly needed changes in Iron County. The primary
purpose of these two groups will be to work over
the next two years in order to have no less than
two candidates for every elective post. Both of these
organizations are registered with the Iron County
Clerk, it only takes interest by a few to get them
going. We're not interested in political parties
at all. Each group will accept any political
persuasion so long as there is an interest in filling
all the open spaces on our ballots.

The person who is assured that they will keep their
job no matter how badly they perform always makes for
a lousy employee! That's today's political situation
here in Iron County.

Look at the City of Iron River. The most recent
addition to the City Council couldn't even achieve a
simple majority of the available votes, that is to
say, 15 votes in a city like Iron River. Personally
I'd be ashamed to take that seat, and I would leave
it vacant! But apparently we don't have to worry
about personal pride among our elected representatives.

In any event, the two groups will start on November 3,
2010, with all the hopes that such groups can muster.

I've been quiet with this publication of late. Our
federal lawsuit has been taking some of my time, and
at this stage, with one exception in the next few days,
silence about matters has seemed appropriate. My
apologies to the readers for my preoccupation, but
please bear in mind that this lawsuit itself was
designed to have broader ranging effects. Readiness
to serve fees on water bills are widely utilized by
governments in the Upper Peninsula. Services such
as water, sewer, and trash are the few areas in
which municipalities can, for the most part, skirt
around the Headlee Amendment and Proposition A
which restrict the availability of funds to local

Can we maintain the financial grip on government
growth that those two people's mandates have imposed?
Bearing in mind the conservative bent that the people
of the state had when imposing those restrictions, how
is it that political mindsets intent on growing large
governments have managed to take over this state at
almost every level?

It is past time to have these discussions, and as our
president says, to get "fired up!" We need to get
fired up locally. Candidates with a fire in their
belly to improve the situation are being sought, but
so far by not enough people. That's what we need to
do, to gather a group that's set to better our community.

My email is

I'd like to hear from you on these matters.

Bill Vajk

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