Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year

Happy New Year to one and all. For Gloria and me this
is a double celebration. We were married 40 years ago
tonight. That was the best decision we ever made.

2012 holds a promise of being a banner year for this
publication. There are many irons in the fire but the
one holding the most promise at the moment is a
series entitled "Lip Service," a term I first learned
in the early 1960's under the tutelage of a Jamaican
business man in New York City. When I expressed
shock on first hearing the term, he had the patience
to sit down with me and explain the words and provide
examples rather than provide a hand-waving harangue
that is the usual case when the emotionally charged
words enter a conversation.

I grew up in the academic environment and community
where such realities were not in evidence, let alone talked
about. So I never heard about such matters until I was
in early adulthood.

A side note to those readers who would prefer that
this publication focus on the positive things about
Iron County I am called to remind you that that is
the obvious purpose of the our local radio station and
the publication that calls itself, "The Reporter." The
premise and purpose of this publication is to call
attention to all those matters that the other two
news reporters in Iron County purposely avoid. Trust
me when I say that what you generally hear and read
there is the nice front end that local governments show
to everyone.

It is my function to lift the carpet and to clearly what
dirt has been swept there. Please bear in mind that
hidden contagion will damage you more surely that
those you know about and can avoid.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to one and all.

This is a celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
Please keep His teachings in mind all year long.

Bill Vajk

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back in my youth I joined with a small group of “self-starter”
kids and went to a set of caves in North Georgia to receive
my introduction to spelunking. We had a fun day clambering
through caves that had features one could equally well enjoy
above the ground. There were waterfalls, cliffs to repel down,
small dimension passages to squeeze through with gear, and
huge galleries with beautiful walls, stalactites and stalagmites.
It was an experience to cherish, especially for someone like
me who was uncomfortable with the confinement (I dealt
with it at the time) and who would never similarly explore
natural underground formations again. But the draw of such
adventures was obvious.

A few years later, a group of boy scouts undertook exploring
the same caves with somewhat different results. Several
miles away from these caves was a gas station with leaking
underground storage tanks. The owners of that gas station
had known their tanks were leaking, but as the lost gasoline
was inexpensive (the retail price for regular gas was, in
those days, still 19.9 cents per gallon,) and since the tanks
weren’t leaking very fast, the decision had been made to
simply absorb the cost of the losses rather than to expend
cash in order to replace the tanks. Besides, at that time the
environmental protection laws that later prevented that
practice had not yet been thought about let alone enacted.

It turned out that that the leaking gasoline had been
accumulating in the caves and had achieved a level where
fumes were able to ignite and to sustain a fire. Standard
gear for spelunkers of the day was a carbide lamp:

that used an exposed flame, and set the gasoline fumes on fire.
While “explosion proof” versions were available, they usually
weren’t used in natural caves. Such lamps are well known to
the mining community in Iron County. If memory serves
correctly, only two of the scout group survived to emerge

In the 1960’s and 70’s, the EPA gained strength and
eliminated a lot of pollution from the air, ground, and water.
No longer would rivers catch fire and burn for long periods.
Pittsburgh, one of the most environmentally vile places on
earth became a clear and friendly place to live, even while
steel mills remained in operation.

If one looks at public health as an indicator of pollution,
one needs to go no further than a Wikipedia web page
discussing cancer clusters.

This is, naturally, only a partial listing, and other illness
clusters brought on by pollutants is not discussed. Such
information is broadly spread out around the world.
Many nations, aware of their pollution problems, elect
to keep the information a state secret.

To bring this discussion home to Iron County, we look at
the November 23, 2011, issue of the Iron County Reporter.
The City of Iron River, the paper headlines, “Goes for EPA

The State of Michigan has been riding herd on pollution,
within the state, for some time through the DEQ. Thus
either the city is looking for pollutants concealed by
previous governments, or pollution that is older than
DEQ activities. In either case, none of the proposed
possible pollutants have showed up in drinking water to
date. Because no specifics are given in the newspaper
article, we cannot know what the process for these
particular grants is.

However, we need to look at the resources available to the
city directly from the DEQ.

Reading this form and taking the information it provides
at face value, we can see that:

“The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
(MDEQ) conducts Site Specific Assessments (SSAs) at
brownfield properties at no cost to communities through
a 128(a) grant from the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).”

But the problem with this form of serving the public is
that the engineering firm GEI would play no role and
achieve no income. After all, the principals at GEI are
personal friends of Iron River’s City Manager who
previously worked with those same people back when
the now local firm was part of STS.

And too, the City Manager is up for his annual review in
January with nothing “new” having happened in Iron River
during 2011. But the promise of an influx of up to
$400,000 should be enough to trigger approval for a 6%
raise for the coming year atop the already outrageous
salary he is being overpaid.

This is “business as usual” for Iron River. But what will
this proposed EPA grant yield the citizens of Iron River?
At best it will trigger additional engineering work for
GEI and perhaps the cleanup of low contamination sites on
private property, contamination that has been known for
decades. Like the spent motor oil that was allegedly spread
on the dirt roads on the Proksch Construction property at
the south edge of downtown Iron River (from John
Archocosky’s lips to my ears….) They knew they were
polluting the property at the time! But it was a convenient
way to get rid of all that spent motor oil, and to keep the
dust down at the same time. Now the property owners are
to benefit from federal grants for their misdeeds? If the
soil is tested, they will eventually receive a clean bill of
health for the property, thereby increasing the marketable
property value without increasing the property taxes.

I saw no evidence of oil on the roads there, but then it has
been decades since the alleged acts. Is there enough
petroleum product concentrated in the soil to show up on
tests? What other properties within the borders of the City
of Iron River will be tested? Who owns those properties?

The political slight of hand in such matters is simply amazing.

In short, there’s no advantage to the citizens at all. This is
just another pig with lipstick, the transfer of public money
to the pockets of a few friends of the City Manager and the
double whammy of a justification for another raise for the
City Manager. Are we on the pay rate schedule outlined by
the contract? 2011 rate at $111,235, and 2012 rate at
$117,909 for the City Manager. We ask once again, can
the citizens of Iron River actually afford this?

“In 2009, average compensation, salary and benefits, for
state employees, totaled $85,076. For teachers, $75,137,
and for local government workers, $57,333. The average
private sector benefit package was $39,986.”

If we were to include those seeking employment in
Michigan, these numbers would be even further askew.

The Iron County Reporter dedicated almost a quarter of
a page to the story about the EPA grants, and never thought
to ask the first question on behalf of the public they claim to
serve. It is most unfortunate that IronCountyDoings is the
only vehicle asking difficult questions and doing
investigative journalism at this time. I wish it weren’t so.
If others were doing the job they’re being paid to do,
IronCountyDoings could fold up our tent and this editor
could retire as I would prefer.

We remind our readers that information in this article is
based on things we were told by public employees, that is,
city officials. Because we take public officials at their word
that they are telling the truth, and for dearth of any
mechanism by which we can actually verify the things they
tell us, we report what they have said. On the other hand,
the City Manager has recently accused another municipal
employee of lying without providing any proof, so we are
left to wonder who to believe. Since we have a right to the
truth from every public employee, we take as true what is
told to us by the public employee providing information, as
much as possible. Still, the public has a right to know what
has been said, and so we report about these issues with the
caveat that the information is the best available to us, and
there is no way to verify any of it at this time. Verifiable
corrections, if any, will be published as they become

On December 7, 2011, former Illinois governor Rod
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years incarceration in
federal prison. To the citizen, this demonstrates the
culture of corruption that surrounds the Illinois
governor’s office. Other recent prior governors also
sentenced on federal corruption charges were Dan
Walker, Jim Edgar, and George Ryan. I moved to Illinois
from the east coast during Walker’s reign. The only
former Illinois governor not charged and convicted since
then was Jim Thompson. That means 4 of the 5 recent
former Illinois governors were convicted of federal
crimes. The cluster of miscreants in the Illinois
governor’s office gives us a unique view of how a
culture of corruption becomes ensconced.

These EPA grants being sought clearly demonstrate
a form of “crony capitalism” that is corrupt when
government becomes one arm of an economic
octopus that strangles the economic viability of a
community. Wouldn’t Iron River, indeed the entire
county, be better served if the people spending time
on this EPA grant that does nothing for the population
at large were to put their minds to bringing more
business, and jobs, into the community?

Many of the elected officials in this community have become
tethered to grants from higher levels of government. That’s
probably a good temporary fix, but here it has become a
way of life. And what good have the large grants done for the
people living in this community? Cool Cities has achieved
what? The EPA grants discussed here will achieve what?

Sorry about those rhetorical questions. All that the Cool
Cities initiative and these EPA grants seem to have achieved
is a self-congratulatory buzz around Iron River’s City Hall
and some unpopular roadway enhancements in the
former Stambaugh business district. We’re still losing
businesses in the county. The population continues to
decline. The children are still moving away. The roads and
infrastructure are deteriorating. In exchange for over
$111,000 in salary to Iron River’s city manager you’d think
we’d be seeing some sort of economic growth, wouldn’t you?
So why aren’t we? Since the City of Iron River has decided
that sort of pay scale is acceptable, why haven’t the
requirements for some sort of communal economic success
been attached to continuing that salary? After all, we could
get perfectly acceptable performance from a caretaker city
manager for $50,000 a year, or even less.

While no one objects to paying for value received,
IronCountyDoings says we’ve paid and asks, “Where’s
the value”? Municipal resources expended for private profit
of friends, without any measurable benefit to the public at
large, just doesn’t cut it. It is past time for this to have ended.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, December 3, 2011

About Christmas in Iron River

Enough is enough!

The first year that Iron River celebrated the Christmas
Season with a parade, it was called Christmas in Lights.
Julie Melchiori was out of town when the decisions were
made and the name worked out just fine.

From the second year forward, Julie claimed that because
some aspects of the event were funded by the Downtown
Development Authority, that is government, the religious
word Christmas could not be used.

I went along with her despite my misgivings. In year 3
I offered (see letter to the editor in the Iron County
Reporter during that period) to donate the first $100 in
order to get government out of the celebration. But it
seems that the DDA doesn't have all that much going
on (perhaps part of the reason for the TIF lawsuit
between cities and Iron County?) and needed to spend
money for downtown "improvements" and the idea
never took root.

What remains, however, is that the federal holiday is
called Christmas, not Holiday. And US Postage stamps
are issued with Christmas and Hanukkah emblazoned
on them.

There is only one U.S. Constitution. The federal, all state, and
all local governments must abide by it. Special rules made up
by Julie Melchiori don't apply. They sure aren't applying over
in Florence, Wisconsin, a community nearby, just east of Iron
County on US2, where there is a Christmas parade today.
They're not hiding behind naming it "Holiday." Holiday is the
name of a petroleum distributor. Are we sure the parade isn't
free advertizing for them? If the gas station were funding the
parade I could see that name for the celebration.

We need to get this fixed for next year. Whether the name
came came about because of ignorance or secular progressive
ideology it doesn't reflect community values and it needs
to go.

And while on that "needs to go" topic, where's there any
report of original work or creative work performed on
behalf the people by Julie Melchiori? I'd like to know
about any original ideas she's brought to the table that
have improved the Iron County or the regional economy.

The people of this county cannot afford to support dead
weight that's doing us no good. When people invest money
with the promise of a return we deserve a report showing
what that return is. Skating along doing clerical work to
promote ideas from others isn't worth our investment. If
the EDC can be run by a clerk, then lets hire a clerk! With
the EDC's track record (or lack of,) as far as we can discern
without a formal report to the contrary, perhaps we don't
need an EDC at all. Is the Iron County EDC just another
useless money pit? Should I hold my breath while I wait
for an answer?

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Several years ago I approached a number of local EDC
and Chamber of Commerce people to recommend a
high school course on entrepreneurship. I was told
by one and all that the topic is covered in the high
school's business classes.

I dropped the topic, but WHOA. Whatever coverage
that is done is inadequate. In fact, the two areas of
inadequacy Iron County Doings criticizes in both the
local school districts are entrepreneurship and
civics, from the standpoint of citizen responsibility
and understanding interaction between the citizen
and government at all levels.

But to focus, today, on entreprenship, the following
tidbit arrived today in email from the Michigan
Economic Development Corporation:


U-M student incubator getting national


TechArb, the student-run business incubator at the
University of Michigan, has
just announced that a
record 19 new businesses launched by UM
entrepreneurs will all share space inside the
incubator for the next six months.

Since the incubator began in 2008, more than
80 entrepreneurs and fledgling companies have
gotten their start with the help of TechArb’s

“Today we have more student entrepreneurs
than ever in TechArb pursuing their dreams
to impact our world,” Moses Lee, assistant
director of student ventures at the College
of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship,
said in an interview with the Michigan Daily.

Lee went on to say that the incubator plans
on bringing in more partners, including
capitalists, alumni, local and national business
leaders, to further help start-ups grow.

A new study from the U.S. Department of
Commerce Economic Development
Administration shows that business incubators
are a better source of regional business growth
than any type of government-sponsored public
works initiative, according to an article in

The EDA report shows that incubators generate
20 times more jobs than community infrastructure
projects, and at a bargain in the process.

“Business incubators are critical components
of the nation’s entrepreneurial support
infrastructure and the only public works projects
that were designed entirely as job generators,”
Dinah Adkins, president and CEO of the
Business Incubation Association, told MedCity News.
Join the conversation about business, talent
and growth opportunities at
or help make your
own case for the opportunities of Pure Michigan
by sharing our "Why Michigan'' video:


Shouldn't our schools and the Iron County Economic
Development Corporation be doing stuff like this?

Nothing breeds huge success like little startup success.
It doesn't require tremendous financial resources and
backing to start a successful business. All it takes is
a good idea and dedication to get a successful business
going. Ideas don't cost anything!

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finnish Music and Dance and Food

December 11 Second Sunday Features Finnish Music
and Dance and Food

The December 11 Second Sunday Folk Dance, at
Fortune Lake Camp in Crystal Falls, promises to be a
very exciting event for everyone who likes Finnish
music. The special guest band “Kaivama” will team
with “White Water” for a concert and dance. Finnish-
American musicians Sara Pajunen and Jonathan
Rundman form the folk duo “Kaivama.” They grew
up in Northwoods cultures of long winters, lakeside
saunas, rugged terrain, and solitude. The landscapes
of their childhoods echo in the music of their new self-
titled debut album. Alternately ancient and modern
Finnish influences reveal themselves in the
“Kaivama” sound: danceable rhythms, joyous
melodies, icy whispers, sleek construction, primal
drones, and poppy hooks all interplay as Pajunen
and Rundman explore the music of their ancestors.
The duo has tapped into an unforeseen demand for
fresh, energetic music rooted in the Finnish-American
experience. Sara Pajunen’s skills as a violinist have
earned her degrees from the University of Minnesota
and the Helsinki Conservatory in Finland. Multi-
instrumentalist Jonathan Rundman has toured the
US and Europe as a troubadour songwriter,
collecting raves from publications such as Paste,
Billboard, and The New York Times.
The White Water band will be made up of Dean and
Bette Premo with Emma, Carrie and Susan
Dlutkowski. Violinists Emma and Carrie are long-
time members of the U.P. classical music scene and
for the last four years they have been frequent
performers with White Water along with their
mother Susan on piano. The White Water dance
ensemble will feature the music of Konsta Jylhä, a
folk-virtuoso who made the traditional “pelimanni-
style” folk music a Finnish cultural phenomenon.
Kaivama will join White Water for the special dance
music for waltz, polka, schottische and two-step
styles of dance.

The event will be held at Fortune Lake Lutheran
Camp located between Iron River and Crystal Falls
(in Iron County, Michigan), 2 miles west of Crystal
Falls on US-2. Turn south on Bible Camp Road and
drive for less than a quarter mile. Turn right on
Fortune Lake Camp Road and drive just a short
distance. The Second Sunday Folk Dance series is the
largest, longest running event of its kind. Activities
begin at 4PM Central Time on December 11 with a
concert by White Water and Kaivama, followed by
Finnish polkas, waltzes and schottisches played for
dancing. We will also be serving some Finnish desserts
and coffee during the dance. Bring your favorite ethnic
treats to share at the “dessert potluck” table. The
entertainment lasts until 7 PM. Admission for those
over 15 is $7 and children 15 and under are admitted
free. For more information about the folk event call
906-822-7889 or visit


Bill Vajk

Monday, November 7, 2011

Buyer Beware – Voter Be Wary

Based on what I understand Michigan law to be where
township expenditures are concerned, a township may
legally expend public funds for a public purpose only if
an interpretation of the state constitutional and/or
statutes indicates the township is authorized to make
that particular expenditure. An expenditure that does
not meet this standard is illegal and prohibited, even
though the purpose seems worthwhile.

Some illegal expenditures cited on the Michigan
Township Association website include “promoting
election proposals or candidates.” … “retroactive pay
increases for township officials” … and “donations to a
community organization” where there is no explicit
contract for appropriate services to be received by
the township from the organization. An article that
summarizes laws that permit and laws that prohibit
township expenditures can be read at .

Available at the same website is information about laws
that township leaders must follow in millage proposal
and election procedures. For example, the Michigan
Campaign Finance Act strictly prohibits the use of
public money to influence voters in a millage election.
Statute also prohibits the use of public resources by
the township board to persuade voters in favor of a
millage proposal or to otherwise influence the
outcome of a millage election. Also prohibited by law
is the misrepresentation of a millage proposal as a
“renewal” of an expired millage levy subject to the
Headlee Amendment.

The quarter page ad that the Iron River Township
Board purchased and published in the November 2
Iron County Reporter is confusing and illegal on at
least three points. First it misrepresents the 2 mills
proposed as a renewal of the millage amount that
expired in 2008 when the amount of the millage
expiring in 2008 was less than 2 mills. Second, it
tries to persuade me to think that the township road
maintenance is hampered by the need to cover other
expenses covered by the general fund, but it doesn’t
tell me anything about the current road millage
revenue or the current general fund balance that as
of September 30 was over $700,000. Third, at public
expense, it directs me to vote YES to keep the
township financially strong.

I have brought my concerns about illegal
expenditure issues to the township board and its
attorneys several times in the past five years. Within
the past year, I brought my frustration and the same
issues to the attention of the Iron County prosecuting
attorney. Nothing I’ve tried has caused a change in
how township leadership operates under state
mandates. I think the Iron River Township Board
needs to rethink its outlaw style of governance before
it loses the respect of the people it is entrusted to serve.

(signed) Tom Peterson, Iron River Township

(Editor's Note: Tom Peterson has been an advocate
for the people of the community since before I moved
to Iron County. We need more oversight. As the top
of our web page news states we need "to throw some
reins on local government." Peterson's efforts need to
become more widespread than has been the fashion
of late. I urge everyone to become involved in achieving
better governments than we presently have. Bill Vajk)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cronyism and News Outlets in Iron County-Page 2

In the presidential campaigns, Mr. Cain correctly
referred one reporter to the Journalism Code of
Ethics. I found it on the internet at:

One part of that code states: "Recognize a special
obligation to ensure that the public's business is
conducted in the open and that government records
are open to inspection."

and: "Deliberate distortion is never permissible."

and: "Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude
of the human experience boldly, even when it is
unpopular to do so."

and: "Distinguish between advocacy and news
reporting. Analysis and commentary should be
labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

These discuss part of the overall code. The
traditional news outlets in Iron County seem to
pick and chose from among requirements of the
code according to their likes and dislikes.

Even more to the point is the Newspaper Editors
Statement of Principles, finding its roots in the
world of 1922 and updated from time to time to
keep up with the times.

We reprint part of the document since it is
copyrighted. We urge everyone to read the entire
document and discover where our local media

"ARTICLE I - Responsibility. The primary purpose
of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to
serve the general welfare by informing the people
and enabling them to make judgments on the issues
of the time. Newspapermen and women who abuse
the power of their professional role for selfish motives
or unworthy purposes are faithless to that public
trust. The American press was made free not just to
inform or just to serve as a forum for debate but also
to bring an independent scrutiny to bear on the forces
of power in the society, including the conduct of official
power at all levels of government."

There are two ways to have a docile community of
people. The once chosen by out traditional news media
in Iron County is to keep the public in the dark. The
other way, the right way in a representative democracy,
is to give the public all the information so that they
are able to enforce their will.

When I first moved to Iron County in 2003, I heard
from several sources (including some who are part of
the local oligarchy) that you cannot get "the dirt"
from the newspaper or the radio station.

Sadly their observations are correct. The question
that remains is whether or not anything can be
achieved in order to correct these circumstances
before Iron River and Crystal Falls become ghost

IronCountyDoings, and the editors, embrace the
ideals promoted by the associations mentioned above,
and the ethical standards they promote, making
those ethics our own as much as is humanly possible.

I challenge the other news outlets in Iron County to
adapt the as we just have, and to live up to them
as well.

Bill Vajk

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cronyism and News Outlets in Iron County (corrected)

Editor's Note: The following article is the
corrected version of an article published
yesterday. The numbers were correct however
the years associated with the numbers were

Please note that Chicago's mayor has
published every city employee's wage in an
easily accessible, and publicized, web page.
Governmental transparency is critical
for the voters to be able to make reasonable

In the past 24 hours I received a note from a
reader that suggested perhaps what we need
here is an Occupy Genesee Street movement.

We regret our previous error and hope it did
not cause anyone any inconvenience.

On 10/28/2011 I sent a letter to the editor at the
Iron County Reporter to have it published. I have
modified it slightly for publication here because
I have no arbitrary 300 word limit and needed to
correct arithmetical errors. The fact that the
Reporter refused to publish the information at all
confirms, in my mind, that the newspaper is complicit
in the cronyism that is the prime mover in how
government is run in Iron County. We are, however,
watching Wayne Wales activities with interest with
hope that he’s the reformer he appears to be.

But neither the newspaper, nor the local radio
station WIKB, reported important events that took
place in the several public meetings. It is my
opinion that the public trust is betrayed by these
news outlets which regularly conceal inconvenient
information that is important to the public. The
entire governmental representative election process
is thwarted whenever the voting public is purposely
kept in the dark. We need an honest news outlet in
the region. The editor of IronCountyDoings will soon
be 72 years old and cannot keep this up forever. A
replacement, and expansion of this effort, are
necessary for the good of this community.

In the pursuit of this story we ran across much good
information. This cartoon from the 1930’s is one
example. We republish it here since the original
copyrights have long expired and it does a good job
of representing our present situation.

It was reprinted in a book, “Chicago’s Way Out”,
that sought to eliminate the corruption in their city
government by replacing the people running the
city with a city manager model. The movement, and
the book, neglected the simple fact that cronyism can
take over the city manager form of government just
as it has here in Iron County.

The contents of my letter to the Reporter’s editor are
included below.

Complaints about the Washington Street improvements
scratch an obvious surface. Money is not available for
needed repairs in the City of Iron River to some extent
because available funds are being misspent. On Iron
River's web page you can read the requirements for
Public Works Foreman candidates. A person with a civil
engineering degree is sought. That alone has the potential
of unnecessarily doubling the cost of the job. Advanced
education is unnecessary for the job. Good common sense
and some experience are crucial.

Looking at the City Manager salary requires review of
three city council meeting minutes (available on the
internet.) The dates are 1/9/2004, 5/10/2007, and
5/16/2007. If the manager's pay scale is on schedule with
6% per year raises, his annual income is presently in
excess of $111,235 plus tons of benefits. He originally
hired on in 2004 at a reasonable $58,700. Have you ever
heard of anyone else effectively doubling their income in
a salaried job, with no promotion, in just 7 years?

Here’s how the pay raise schedule looks:

2007 $88,109
2008 $93,395
2009 $98,999
2010 $104,939
2011 $111,235
2012 $117,909
2013 $124,982
2014 $132,482
2015 $140,431

Iron River has a population approximating 3,029. The
city manager's salary presently costs every man,
woman, and child almost $54 each year. Can Iron River
residents really afford to spend money this way?

Rahm Emanual, formerly White House Chief of Staff
and now mayor of Chicago, only costs each resident
about 8 cents per year. He gladly accepted a cut in pay
to take the job. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City is
being paid $1 per year. We can't expect numbers that
small for Iron River, but we certainly can do better
than we are! That takes oversight by the public,
something we don't have at the moment. You should
get riled every time you hit one of those bad bumps
in city streets. And then you really ought to do
something about it.

These issues raise other questions about how the city
spends money. You, the taxpayer, are the boss. You,
the taxpayer, need to know what your government
is doing.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Northstar Report 2011 Q2

Northstar Hospital released its financial status
for the second quarter of 2011 showing additional
losses coupled with additional reduction in assets.



The hospital has made some moves to get
experts in success involved in an attempt to
improve the financial situation. Bellen Health
from Green Bay has been in the community
lately helping with a reorganization. The
underlying question is, what has to be done
at this point?

There are two approaches to turning around
any failing business. The first one is to reduce
expenses. We’ve seen no signs of that. The
second is to improve income. The total Iron
County population in 2010 was 11,817 souls.
With a population that small, the marketplace
is quite limited for the services that Northstar
sells. To improve on that situation, the only
alternative is to increase sales by increasing
the cost of healthcare to the community,
necessarily resulting increased costs to the
nation as well. That problem currently has
significant national scrutiny.

This financial trouble for the citizens has
resulted from the failure of the City Iron River
to ask the necessary questions before
authorizing a large municipal bond. Published
below is the reported “discussion” and public

Issuance of bonds for Iron County Community
Hospitals, Inc.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
2:00 P.M.
Mayor Charlotte Soderbloom called the Public
Hearing to order at 2:00 p.m. in the Council
Chambers at the Iron River City Hall.
Roll Call: Edward Marcell, Ray Coates, Roger
Zanon and Soderbloom.
Absent: Thomas Beber (out of town).
Also present: City Manager John Archocosky,
City Attorney Mark Tousignant, Treasurer
Suzanne Johnson and City Clerk Kathy Anderson.
Public in attendance: Glen Dobson, Dennis
Powell, Rosalie King, Craig Richardson, Thomas
Angeli and WIKB reporter Wendy Shimun.

The purpose of the Public Hearing: to permit the
City of Iron River Hospital Finance Authority to
receive comment both written and verbal
concerning the proposal of the Authority to issue
hospital revenue and refunding bonds on behalf
of Iron County Community Hospitals, Inc. (ICCH).

ICCH representative Glen Dobson explained ICCH
plans to renovate the existing facility. Some new
construction is planned as well as upgrades to
equipment. Work is scheduled to begin in June,
and is anticipated to take fourteen months to
complete. Previously issued bonds (2002 & 2004)
will be refunded. A new bond (2008) will be issued,
not to exceed $24,000,000.


No public comment was forthcoming.

Soderbloom closed the Public Hearing
at 2:12 p.m.

Following this there was a regular meeting
that merely formalized the City’s approval:

“Zanon moved to approve a Resolution requested
by the City of Iron River Hospital Finance
Authority to issue bonds to the ICCH for
improvements to the existing facility located
at 1400 West Ice Lake Road, not to exceed

(See attached). Coates supported.
Roll Call: Ayes: 4: Marcell, Coates, Zanon,
Soderbloom. Nays: 0.
Absent: Beber. Motion carried.”

The minutes for the meetings are available on the
City of Iron River’s web page and are copied here
to illustrate this information. There wasn’t much
time devoted to making a commitment, on behalf
of the voters, of a little over 23 million dollars. We
know nothing of what, if any, other discussions were
held behind closed doors. No one has made such
information public. At the very least cash flow
projections should have been provided for public
scrutiny. The minimal exposure of information is
classic in Iron County politics and needs to end.

So just who is on this "City of Iron River Hospital
Authority" board? When and where are the public
meetings? Where are the minutes? And why aren't
they openly communicating with the City Council
regarding the liquidity problems the hospital is
experiencing. By contract, the hospital is required
to maintain 60 days cash on hand, and has only been
able to maintain 54. In the overall picture, this is
a significant failure.

And while we have great respect for Mr. Mark
Tousignant, this report would be incomplete without
mentioning the apparent conflict that exists in this
instance by his serving on the Board of Directors for
Northstar (then Iron County Community Hospital)
at the same time that he was, and continues to be,
legal counsel for the City of Iron River.

It also bears mention that the original ICCH
incorporation papers were drawn up and filed by
C. Joseph Schwedler who is today the Iron County
Judge. Schwedler has not been replaced in
subsequent corporation filings as the person to
contact regarding the hospital.

Bill Vajk

Friday, October 7, 2011


Rupert Murdock has joined the Fox News folks
in person today to celebrate their 15th anniversary
on the air. Like him or not, Murdock is a significant
world leader in the news business.

For our purposes here, all that is eclipsed by his
comment that when you're delivering news you're
bound to stir up some controversy.

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

John Archocosky's Coverup? (service models cont'd)

As Editor of this publication I recently received
an email that appears to be from John
Archocosky, the City Manager for the City of
Iron River. I say in advance, “appears to be,”
because in cases where information is received
from a public employee the public accepts what
is provided at face value because public
employees (public servants) are supposed to be
truthful and as citizens we have a right to their
truthfulness. In fact, we demand truthfulness.
As we demonstrate below, Mr. Archocosky’s
email falls short of that goal in several respects.

from:John Archocosky
date:Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Mr. Vajk,

This photo from your August 29th blog was
recently brought to my attention.

Please be advised that the City of Iron River
does not own this vehicle as you have
suggested. All city owned vehicles are clearly
marked as such. They also have government
plates so they can be easily identified by any
citizen using just a little common sense.

You claim your blog is a news source but as
the “Editor” you seldom bother to be factual.
The ownership of this vehicle would have
been very simple to check. I guess in your
case however, it was just easier to make up
a false accusation and condemn city
employees. Apparently you take no pride
whatsoever in your so called news


John A. Archocosky, Manager
City of Iron River
906-265-4719 Phone
906-265-5776 Fax

This message may contain confidential
and/or proprietary information and is
intended for the person/entity to whom
it was originally addressed. Any use by
others is strictly prohibited.


I have waited a few days to see if Mr.
Archocosky wanted to retract an email that
appears, at first glance, to be the result of an
emotional meltdown. He has not contacted me
subsequent to sending me the email so taking
matters at face value once again, it appears the
personal attack above was politically motivated
and is an example of intentional cronyism.

The pertinent text from the IronCountyDoings
August 29th article was:

“On my way home I stopped at Snyder’s Drugs.
I walked past a municipal vehicle parked in the
fire lane with the driver sitting in it. I took care
of my business. On my way out, I stopped to
find out what town the car hails from. I was told
it comes from Iron River. So I went back to my
car, grabbed a camera, and snapped the picture
that appears in this article.”

It is clear from that text that I made an inquiry
regarding the ownership of the vehicle, and I
was told by a public servant that it was from
Iron River. That act ended any necessity for
me research any further.

Because of Mr. Archocosky’s whining about
this issue, I did one additional step of research
to find out what it does take to find out who
owns the vehicle and I came up with a four
page form available on the Secretary of
State’s web page.

That form must be completed, the
requirements for receipt of the information met,
a $7 fee attached, and the package mailed to the
Department of State in Lansing. According to
the Secretary of State’s offices, the process of
determining actual ownership of a vehicle is not
so simple as Mr. Archocosky makes it out to be.
In any case, I had a right to expect a public
employee to tell me the truth, although
apparently in this article I have more than one
instance of a public servant not doing so!

So now I am faced with two public servants
disagreeing on who owns the vehicle, the
second one (Archocosky) calling the first one a
liar but failing to back up that accusation with
any substantive information, relying instead on
a personal attack against the Editor of this
news provider that does not provide him with
a bully pulpit.

Ne nuntium necare.

That’s the Latin invocation of “Don’t Kill The
Messenger.” My August 29th article carried
the title “The Iron County Service Model.”
This publication is just a messenger, not the
creator of information

The service model here in Iron County
leaves much to be desired. In the end it
doesn’t matter which municipality owns the
vehicle in the photo, what matters is that some
public servants consider themselves above
the law. In this case, that law was
MCL 257.64(1)(aa).

Section 3.04(d) of the Iron River Municipal
Code states: “See that all laws, provisions of
this charter and acts of the City Council, subject
to enforcement by the City Manager or by officers
subject to the managers direction and supervision,
are faithfully executed;”

Here’s the reply I had every right to expect from
John Archocosky:

“Dear Mr. Vajk, I have become aware of the
photo in your August 29th article and I have
forwarded the pertinent information to the Iron
River Police Department with instructions that
they take appropriate measures.”

And as action by the Iron River Police
Department I have every right to expect, at the
very least, that a warning ticket be issued to the
driver of that vehicle along with an admonition
to never do that again.

Instead what we experience here in Iron County
is a spate of political cronyism in which
Archocosky attempts to misdirect attention by
attempting to make this publication the focus of
the story rather than the fact that another public
servant thumbed their nose at the laws, and at
the public. “I work for a municipality and that
gives me power to ignore the laws.”

And Mr. Archocosky played his crony role. That
needs to stop. After all, this isn't the Wild West of
yesteryear. Or is it?

Bill Vajk

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flowers in Iron River (Service Model Page 3)

We were ever so pleased to see the progress in Iron River
given the flowers that were planted in the easement between
the sidewalk and US2 on the hillside entering town.
Volunteers have done nice things for the community. Any
time there's a call to help a family in need, Iron County
residents respond in addition to the beautification measures
and other privately and religion initiated projects . The
community is made up of good people. Iron County Doings
wrote some time back about this sort of floral impact in
Marquette and we're pleased to see it has arrived to Iron River.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, what lies at the end of this
picturesque improvement appreciated by all who traverse
this part of US2?

But as a property owner, heaven help you if your grass isn't mowed!
The city will, without a word, come and mow it for you and bill you
at twice what you could have gotten it done by local commercial
landscapers! They don't have the basic decency to warn you and
give you time if something has happened that kept the grass from
being as pretty as they demand.

If you look at the first picture above, the curb is also torn up and
not repaired. In fact, it is torn up through much of Iron River.
The government service model does not match the service model
given to the community by local volunteers.

On September 1 this year, we observed and photographed the
following scene.

What's wrong with this picture?

The Iron River street sweeper truck is in Iron River Township.
That part is OK as the truck was originally purchased with the
intention to lease its services to the surrounding communities.

But with US2 being a primary corridor through Iron County,
why is last winter's sand being swept on September 1st? It costs
us the same amount as it would have to have had this sweeping
done in May!

How would it be if the flowers around the community were
planted on September 1? Who would be happy about that?

The point made here is that the citizens of Iron County come
through with making their community the best that they can
by applying their backs and wallets to any problem that comes
along. Another example that comes to mind is the installation
of resting benches on the Apple Blossom Trail by a boy scout in
Caspian. Iron River has been asked for similar benches for a
very long time, to no avail!

What the heck is wrong with government that they are unable
to follow the example provided by the citizens. Aren't elected
and appointed officials supposed to be the leaders? How come
they're following. Not only are they following behind the citizens,
why are they following the citizens so far very behind?

Bill Vajk

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Important Change (Service Models page 2)

A letter was put out by the County Treasurer recently.

With Iron River Township's submittal of a large amount
of "delinquent taxes" for the recently imposed sewer
availability fee, it seems that the Bill and Gloria Vajk
lawsuit resulting in the county treasurer's recognition
that these charges will probably be challenged in the
courts as well, Iron County will no longer advance
monies that originate in what are now being called
"delinquent specials." This is the first time this writer
has seen the term used in this context and it clearly
demonstrates that the county treasurer, indeed Iron
County, recognizes the differences between the
various underlying mechanisms of "delinquent taxes."

Our lawsuit is still in the federal courts presently awaiting
the appointment of a judicial panel in the 6th Circuit Court
of Appeals. In our federal lawsuit we have claimed that
certain of the charges against a property we own in the
City of Iron River find no authority in state laws that is
required for a municipality to add a specific charge to the
tax rolls as delinquent.

While the excuses given by the county treasurer have some
validity, we believe that the underlying reasoning is the simple
fact that Iron County has finally recognized its responsibility
to citizens in these matters

Our federal lawsuit had two reasons for the complaints
being brought. The first was to force municipalities to
obey the law and to stop being so Unamerican in their
dealing with citizens.

The second was to stop the hemorrhaging of money on a
"something for nothing" basis to undeserving local

Needless to say, while the "sewer availability fee" has an
actual basis in state law, that law was nullified by the
Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution as well
as a number of state and federal court cases that have held
that water and water related services constitute a contract
between a municipality and a citizen. The Iron River
Township billing is imposed from the top down with no
possibility of avoidance by a property owner.

I lay the blame for this entire series of governmental
intrusions into our pockets on poorly educated elected

Justice Thomas M. Cooley died in 1898. But before he did,
he wrote not only several crucial opinions in the Michigan
Supreme Court, but he also prepared a set of books on the
law that have been frequently referred to by the US
Supreme Court through to the modern day. All this
information is at the disposal of anyone willing to read it.
In fact a number of his books are available on the
internet for free.

The state statute authorizing the "sewer availability fee"
runs headfirst against issues previously decided by the
courts as illegal, to say nothing of more recent rulings.

If Michigan governments were doing things correctly, the
questions raised by Bill and Gloria Vajk in our lawsuit, and
the current issues occasioned by the "sewer availability
fee" should have been submitted by the Michigan Attorney
General, or the legislature, to the Michigan Supreme Court
for an advisory opinion.

That's what a government that cares about its citizens
should do.

In the end, this can be viewed as yet another "service
model" problem where government cares more about
its own little ticky tacky problems than it concerns itself
with the well being of its citizens.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Men Who Cook - Last Call

August 30, 2011




Saturday, September 10, 2011

5:30 – 8:30 pm

This year’s MEN WHO COOK!! fundraiser will be at

the George Young Recreational Facility the first

Saturday after Labor Day weekend – Saturday,

September 10, 2011, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Please join us! Your ticket to this great event can

be reserved by sending your check for $35 per person

payable to “Kinship of Iron County” to:

Sara Basso

PO Box 63

Iron River MI 49935

Please include your name as you would like it to appear on

your name tag. Rather than sending out printed tickets,

we will have printed name tags at the registration table.

I would also appreciate your address, phone number and

email address.

If you have any questions, please email me at or call

906-265-4410 and leave a message. I will return your

call as soon as possible.

Tickets will be made available to the general public the

first week in August – so don’t wait! Send your check

today to reserve your date with MEN WHO COOK!!

Thank you for helping to make Iron County a great place!


Sara J. Basso

PS – If you are unable to attend this year’s event, please

consider making a contribution to Kinship of Iron County.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Iron County Service Model

Some time back, in a discussion with a local lifelong
resident of Iron County, she told me that at one
time she had worked at the local J.C. Penny store.

As the “low man on the totem pole” she was the one
who was required to take the odd lunch and keep
the store open while the rest lunched. She said it was
really great because the folks who came in to buy
something during that time had to buy from her.
She sold everything, including some very expensive
items, and that really helped her along.

This very nicely brings us to repeat an old theme of
mine, the service model.

On Friday, August 26, 2011, I visited the County Clerk’s
office in Crystal Falls to gather some more information
about the TIF lawsuit (we have an article or more in
the works) involving several elected officials of Iron
County, Iron County, Caspian and Iron River.

As the time approached noon I was told that the Clerk’s
Office closes at noon for a half-hour lunch. Interestingly
I had run into the same thing several years ago at the
x-ray department of the hospital at Iron River. Both
offices have more than one person involved in running
the office. The Iron County Clerk appears to have four.

So the issue of “what is the mission” of each of these
offices immediately came to mind. What is the function
of the County Clerk’s office? To serve the public.

How does one achieve that if they close during the middle
of the day, the same limited time that is available to
working people to get information, passports, and various
other services the clerk's office furnishes?

Obviously they cannot.

So who are they actually working for, those four ladies
who cannot seem to bear taking separate lunches in
order to be available to serve the public during normal
business hours? They’re already keeping company with
one another all day! They allege to be working for the
public. But such practices present a truly lousy service
model. I’ll go so far as to say “arrogant.”

I ran into a similar situation in the Extension Office a few
years ago. Julie Melchiori was away on business, and the
office help had been prohibited from providing the public
with any information unless it was approved in advance
by Julie.

On my way home I stopped at Snyder’s Drugs. I walked
past a municipal vehicle parked in the fire lane with the
driver sitting in it. I took care of my business. On my
way out, I stopped to find out what town the car hails
from. I was told it comes from Iron River. So I went back
to my car, grabbed a camera, and snapped the picture that
appears in this article.

Then another woman came out of Snyder’s, got into the
municipal vehicle, and the vehicle left.

I had noticed earlier that police cars that visit the Riverside
Plaza (this covers state police, county sheriff’s department,
uniformed prison/jail guards, and city police) invariably park
in designated parking areas. Unlike some parts of the US,
the police here demonstrate a proper respect for the public
they serve.

So then what of this municipal car and its mission? If they
were city employees on a private shopping excursion, why
were they using a car at public expense on time they were
being paid to work on our behalf? If they were on a mission
to buy for the city, why did it require two employees, at
public expense? Why was the shopper of the duo gabbing
with store employees?

Let’s assume, for a moment, that the duo had a perfectly
legitimate set of reasons for being there shopping on company
time. Why, then, did the driver violate MCL 257.64(1)(aa)?

(1) A vehicle shall not be parked, except if necessary to avoid
conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the law or the
directions of a police officer or traffic-control device, in any of
the following places:

(aa) In a place or in a manner that blocks access to a space
clearly designated as a fire lane.

(4) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil

And finally, who is paying for damages this vehicle has
sustained? Did the damage happen during the course of
legitimate business?

These issues represent a cultural climate that has no
justification in the 21st century, especially where
government entities are involved. Indeed, the driver
of the vehicle appeared to be shocked that she was asked
what municipality the vehicle belonged to. It seems that
local governments in this part of the world are not used
to being questioned about anything. (This has been a
recurring theme, by the way.)

Hopefully that’s changing.

Opinion piece by Bill Vajk

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Harbingers of Our Future

Last week, our final space shuttle mission returned
to earth. As matters stand we do not have any
launch vehicle system available to carry humans
and cargo into space.

I participated in the space program before the first
of the moon missions at ILC Industries, the designers
and manufacturers of the Apollo space suits. One of
the most interesting aspects of that project was the
fact that the chief designer for all U.S. high altitude
and space suits was a man with little education.
George Durney was “discovered” while he as selling
reupholstery services and curtains for Sears. The
man was the consummate genius with fabrics. This
vividly contrasts with today’s paradigm that in order
to get ahead one must have an advanced education.
A terrific education may make progression into
success easier for some folks, but it is no assurance
of a successful career. The business of learning and
getting good grades on tests improves a completely
different set of skills than one encounters in the
business of earning.

While the usual article we read today covers one or
perhaps two issues, this one, of necessity, does
much more because of the interleaved concepts that
affect our daily lives.

My two hallmark efforts at ILC Industries were:
1) recovery of profit for work done to the tune of
$15 million on which the documentation had been
misplaced, and 2) writing the fist proposal for
modifications to the then existing space suits to
make them appropriate for the lunar mission

My copy of the cover page for the draft is displayed.

That was another of the classic hurry-up assignments
of that day. I had a week to complete the proposal, and
I worked 95 hours that week in order to get it done,
along with three secretaries who did all the typing while
I wrote and prepared charts and tables. I was then given
a few days in which to revise the draft to change the
name of the document (it became the Omega
Configuration for the existing space suit) and to reduce
all the estimated numbers by 15%. Since the suits were
fabricated on a cost-plus basis, the actual cost of
building any suit was covered anyway, and ILC’s
profit was negotiated after the fact based primarily
on the approved aspects of the expenditures.

We knew already that the future of the manned
US space effort was going to be the space shuttle,
a project I opposed then, and now in hindsight,
for the same underlying reasons. In order to
demonstrate my reasons for opposing the shuttle
program we temporarily depart from a discussion
of space and briefly go underground.

I used, as my model, the New York City subway
system. I’ve known the story since my youth
since I first rode the NYC subway in 1946. It
was a dilapidated and old system at that time,
but it still functioned well enough. But in looking
on the internet for a web page or more to include
in support of my thesis, I found that modern
NYC politics has done extensive revision of the
underlying facts, to the point that a published
copy of a 1904 brochure is the only place I was
able to find the unabashed and unrevised truth.
You can find that brochure at:

In the 1800’s, New York’s city fathers recognized
the need for a public transportation system and,
unlike Iron River’s elected officials, determined
to do something about it.

(From the web page: “Our city-loving Mayor was
still the practical business man and while he
advocated all speed in the pushing forward any
crying public need, he was wise enough to consider
the ways and means by which the public need was
to be supplied.” I've always been of the opinion that
that's the way things are meant to be!)

After a number of attempts, they finally got the
state constitution amended to accommodate the
needed public transportation system. Thy found a
contractor willing to build what became known as
the IRT system, and to run it under franchise for
50 years. “By the terms of the contract, the road
was leased by the city to Mr. McDonald for fifty
years…” Work began in 1898.

By the time I rode on the system in 1946, and
later, the equipment was mostly worn out and
was technology from the year 1900. Of course
the cost of the ride for the entire 50 year
franchise was limited to a nickel, 5 cents.

Consider the reasoning. Working with budget
limitations in mind, the ideal circumstances would
be that in the last minute of the last hour of the
contract, the last train would arrive to its
destination and irreparably break down, all used
up. That didn’t happen because the IRT system
was too large and equipment deterioration isn’t
100% predictable anyway. In 1948, when the
City of New York took over the system, the very
first thing that happened was that the fare was
doubled, to 10 cents. And the City, of necessity,
began to acquire new rolling stock as well as
infrastructure supporting the system. The
important point is that what the City received
from the contractor at that point was a much
deteriorated public transportation system
comprised of old technology.

And the space shuttle system has some parallels.
The last flight was completed using 30 year old
technology. Oh yes, the shuttle is quite impressive,
but the advances made in materials alone over the
past three decades has made the existing spacecraft
significantly obsolete. The weight reduction, using
modern technology and limited use vehicles reduces
the cost per pound for launches of men and products.
Any long term, multiple reuse vehicle is built heavier
than a one or two use vehicle.

My final objection to the shuttle model of manned
space flight has to do with the dearth of technological
advance. If we had continued with limited use vehicles
as we started with, an ongoing effort to make
improvements would have benefited not only the
space program, but also helped to drive our
technologically based economy as well as other
health an social programs. None of such development
was available to the US public once the shuttle design
was frozen.

It used to be that the United States was “the
innovator.” I foresaw our loss of that status when
Japanese manufacturers came out with the first
F 1.9 camera lens. The best that anyone had
achieved up to that point in time was F 2.8. The
improvement in lens technology was huge! And
then we saw our manufacturing moving overseas.
Now a company founded by a most favored son
and inventor, Thomas Edison, is moving to
China. General Electric’s X-Ray unit is moving.

Our economy, and soon to be followed by our
living standards, is collapsing because we’ve
moved from being a nation of innovation and
capitalism into one whose inhabitants believe
social programs are the be-all and end-all rather
than technological and productive progress.

The demise of our manned space program is
merely another in a sequence of harbingers of
the truths that represent our future.

As a final chuckle, I wonder if the history of
mankind in space will be revised as much as NYC
subway history has been.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Men Who Cook!

July 26, 2011


Saturday, September 10, 2011

5:30 – 8:30 pm

This year’s MEN WHO COOK!! fundraiser will be at the

George Young Recreational Facility the first Saturday

after Labor Day weekend – Saturday, September 10, 2011,

from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Please join us! Your ticket to this great event can be

reserved by sending your check for $35 per person

payable to “Kinship of Iron County” to:

Sara Basso

PO Box 63

Iron River MI 49935

Please include your name as you would like it to appear

on your name tag. Rather than sending out printed

tickets, we will have printed name tags at the

registration table. I would also appreciate your address,

phone number and email address.

If you have any questions, please email me at

or call 906-265-4410 and leave a message. I will

return your call as soon as possible.

Tickets will be made available to the general public

the first week in August – so don’t wait! Send your

check today to reserve your date with


Thank you for helping to make Iron County a great



Sara J. Basso

PS – If you are unable to attend this year’s event, please

consider making a contribution to Kinship of Iron County.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Seniors Met In Anticipation of DICSA Action

In an effort to present a unified position, the
site counsels from three (3) Iron County Senior
Citizen sites met Friday, July 22, 2100, at the
Iron River Senior Center. Present were repre-
sentatives of the Iron River, Crystal Falls, and
Alpha Senior Centers.

The meeting was requested by the Iron River
Senior Center, to discuss how to deal with an
effort by the Dickinson Iron Community
Services Agency to reduce the amount of
staffing and financial assistance provided
to the centers. It was the opinion of the
members present that representatives from
each site should attend the special meeting
of DICSA next Friday the 29th of July to ask
if any decisions had been reached about
sharing the reduction in funding among the
three centers.

Given the atmosphere in Washington and
Lansing, the attendees of Friday's meeting felt
that some fair method of allocating the
anticipated reductions in funding should be
agreed to by interested parties. There will be
more coming on this subject as soon as
information is available.

The events precipitating the meeting came
from an anticipated reduction in the number
of days on which meals will be served in Iron
River and Crystal Falls Senior centers and
the shutting down of the Senior Site in Alpha.

This reporter sensed a willingness of the
representatives to present a united front to
the DICSA board of governors next Friday,
July 29, 2011. That meeting is open to the
public and will be held at the Crystal Lake
Senior center in Iron Mountain at 10:00 AM.

Ben Smith

Editor's note:
With federal and state budgets
on the decline, and a reduction in Iron
County's population, ongoing cuts to
essential social programs are a reality that
must be faced even though costs for providing
those services continue to increase.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The TIF Lawsuit - The Complaint

I've been sitting on this information for a couple
of days because while this publication intends to
present some appropriate commentary about
this litigation, that is so complex that it will take
a number of articles to adequately cover the
realities of what this litigation means to us.

While I'm working through such information I
thought it best to make the complaint from the
case available to the public. And please bear
in mind that this isn't simply a "complaint," it
is the "second amended complaint." This means
that the case has shifted from what the original
complaints contained.

That being said, you can find the document here:

Bill Vajk

Monday, July 11, 2011

Error Correction in TIF article of July 10, 2011

We published the following sentence:

"When the problem was addressed as prescribed by
statute, it was found that the election committee of
the county had not meant to approve the wording of
the proposal before it was put on the ballot, and, in
fact, had not met for 13 years."

The sentence should have read:

"When the problem was addressed as prescribed by
statute, it was found that the election committee of
the county had not met to approve the wording of
the proposal before it was put on the ballot, and, in
fact, had not met for 13 years. "

Our apologies for any confusion caused by this error.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The TIF Lawsuit - Some Spillover

The following article has been submitted by our
Associate Editor Ben Smith. This information
has not been thoroughly researched and is being
published as the opinion of both the Editor and
Associate Editor. More will be published here on
this topic that's been receiving only a minimal
notice of any sort by a local press that's more
intent on making believe that Iron County is a
happy place with no problems and no issues.

Bill Vajk


Iron County taxpayers are in a similar predicament
to Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield,
and Southgate downstate.

The Election Committee is supposed to meet and
approve as "understandable language" the wording
of any proposal before ANY issue can be put on a
ballot. Right now a judge's careless disregard of the
law (no election committee meeting being set)
makes the taxpayers of Iron County possibly subject
to a huge tax burden.

The cities of Iron River and Caspian are suing Iron
County over a misunderstanding about what is
meant by the wording of the "TIF" (Tax Increment
Financing) law proposal which was implemented
by both the cities and the county. Recently a
different interpretation of this wording has emerged.

When the problem was addressed as prescribed by
statute, it was found that the election committee of
the county had not meant to approve the wording of
the proposal before it was put on the ballot, and, in
fact, had not met for 13 years. As a result, there
have been many ballot proposals over the last 13
years on which the wording has not been approved.

All these proposals are now in question as to their

Whose fault is it when the letter of the law is not
observed? Downstate, in the areas mentioned above,
the judges involved were accused and convicted
of violating the law. The convictions were upheld
by judicial oversight boards, consequently the
taxpayers PAID.

Is Iron County facing a similar fate ?

Ben Smith

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