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

Blog Archive