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
www.michigantownships.org/downloads/novfeat_1.pdf .

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

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