Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The following email exchange took place this morning from
Ben Smith to the undersigned.

I will be very happy to advise my editor Mr. W. Vajk of the
different interpretation made in the posting concerning your
desire to retire from your position as City Manager for the
city of Iron River. In fact I'll forward this message to him at
this time

Best Wishes for a Happy Retirement

--- On Wed, 2/29/12, John Archocosky

From: John Archocosky
Subject: retirement
To: "Ben Smith"
Date: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 8:46 AM

Good morning Ben,

Kathy tells me that on Mr. Vajk’s web page it says that I
submitted my “resignation.”

I know that not many folks bother to read what is presented
there but for the few that do, I think it is important to get the
information correct.

I did not submit a letter of resignation, I actually advised
the Council of my decision to “retire”.

The word “resignation” suggest that I might be leaving for
reasons other than retirement. It could for example suggest
that I am leaving because of problems or issues between
myself and the Council. As you know, I have a great working
relationship with all the Council members, both past and

I would appreciate it if that wording could be corrected.

Thanks, for your help.


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

To begin at the beginning, we have no idea why John
Archocosky is presently so enamored of words that
have no particular connotation. All the available
discussions on this topic make that statement very

In fact, we determined to see just what the word
"resigned" means in the AmerEnglish language
today. To that end, your humble correspondent
plugged the following into internet's google search


Here's a screen shot of what came up for me:

If it isn't clear on your screen, here's what it says:

Noun 1. The act of retiring or giving up a position
2. A document conveying someone's intention
of retiring.

While we don't see any difference, it apparently means
something special to Mr. Archocosky, so we have
republished the exchange here in a public forum.

In the end, a resignation is a termination, and that's
all that happened. Mr. Archocosky has had his
public platform here once again. It is not the
intention of Iron County Doings to mislead anyone
so we've played into the Archocosky sensitivities
and, dare I say, drama.

It should be interesting to get an outsider in the
position of City Manager for Iron River. We are
looking forward to a future comparison of how
the city is managed while we remind the reader
that a city manager is supposed to minister to
the needs of the city council and the people, not
to establish policy that overrides the needs of the

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Documents related to John Archocosky's Resignation

This story, as many or most political stories in Iron County,
remains incomplete despite the contents of documents we
publish today.

Please see 2 pages at:

We also have to wonder at the relatively high starting wage,
for this particular position, offered on page 2. After all, the
position is strictly administrative, meaning ministerial
application of the City Council's decisions. It appears to be a
significant reduction from Archocosky's wages and benefits

We note that some of the seeds, as a prelude to this retirement,
were sowed at an earlier city council meeting where a MERS
(pension plan) actuarial report was requested. See minutes for
the regular city council meeting of 11/14/2011.

Bill Vajk

Today is election day in Michigan. Have you voted yet?

Please do.

Monday, February 27, 2012


During a City of Iron River city council meeting on Friday,
February 24, 2012, the city manager tendered his resignation
effective April 28, 2012.

Ben Smith, Associate Editor

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Election Season Heats Up And Spills Over

The Iron County Reporter of February 22, 2012 has several
paid advertisements for and against the recall of Wayne
Wales, the Chairman of the Iron County Board. The ads
against the recall explain themselves well enough, but the
pro-Rosalie King and friends ad bears some scrutiny.

Anyone with a depth of interest sufficient to delve into the
actual records can get at most of the information by reading
the meeting minutes that cover some of the topics. It is
unfortunate that the Reporter and WIKB don’t do a better
dissemination of underlying facts. Rumor has it (admittedly
your humble correspondent has not verified this) the record
and the ad do not agree. But check for yourself. We state this
as rumor because we have not made the effort to verify the
facts, though memory tends to lend credence to the rumors.

I think the final lines in the pro-Rosalie ad on page 12 of the
Reporter are the most telling. It reads in part, “These
statements are not made by a ‘Special Interest Group,’
only by your fellow citizens who have been involved in these
and other groups for many years to promote Iron County.”

We have in Iron County a collection of municipalities that
mostly cannot afford so much as a 2 wheel drive pickup
truck or a police car without a grant from somewhere. How
many roads have been waiting for decades to be repaved. I
would love to be able to use Smoky Lake Road, but that is a
formerly paved road that’s been graveled over much as the
alleyway behind my house on Plum Street in Iron River
was recently. Obviously there has been little to no success
with the promotion of Iron County by the Rosalie club and
some of the predecessors, otherwise we could afford the
important essentials without outside money in the form of
grants. The EDC, another enterprise of the County Board,
hasn’t brought in any new businesses or new jobs capable
of supporting a family in the time I’ve been here full time
(since 2003).

Further analysis of the sentence written on Rosalie’s behalf
shows it is inconsistent in the very words used. The claim is
that the people involved promoting Wayne Wales’ recall are
not a special interest group, but then goes on to say their
special interest has been Iron County. And the sad part is
that the interest they tout so boldly has only resulted in such
a depressed local economy that a regional salesman I speak
to several times a year told me that he hates to come here
and only visits here when he must.

As pretty as this countryside is, isn't that a shame? And
Hovey Company folks, who have the contract for revamping
Central School, stated they used to drive through Iron
County on their way elsewhere, not thinking to stop here
because nothing attracted their interest.

On this basis alone, isn’t it time for those who have failed
for so long, for 36 years and counting, to move over and
give someone else a shot at improving our outlook?

Wayne Wales and the recently formed alliances on the
county board have been doing those necessary things
that King and her little troupe have avoided out of

But the analysis is hard to stop there. The dogcatcher
position has been eliminated. “In fact it will cost the
taxpayers more money for less service,” says the pro-
Rosalie ad. The ad admits that isn’t true so far. What
is going to change that? Sorry folks, I ask these rhetorical
questions now and again. Nothing anyone can lay their
finger on will actually make the service cost more while
providing less. The position Tom King was in, and his
father before him, was created as a personal interest
matter so that Rosalie’s son would have a cushy job at
the public expense. And in a grant application for a new
vehicle, he was listed as a “first responder” when in fact
he never has had any training along those lines. And the
reason for the grant request was that the old vehicle he
was using burned too much oil. What was wrong with an
engine overhaul? It certainly would have cost a lot less
than a new vehicle!

The fact is that a fully qualified peace officer is now serving
as animal control officer. When not involved in animal
control activities, this individual is providing police
services that Tom King was not qualified to do. When
Tom King asked if he could carry a gun on the job, that
request was denied. Given that animal control does not
keep an individual busy at all times, what did Tom do
with the rest of his time? We know what the sheriff’s
deputy is doing, and those patrol duties are important
to the citizens, so where does this “costs more for less”
idea come from?

The creme de la crème in Rosalie’s ad says, “We have
always gotten public input and it should remain that way.”
Then why, under the Rosalie King chairmanship of the
Board, was the “Airport Committee” continuing to meet
and work? From all reports the people spoke loudly
against a new airport around the turn of the century. So
the sentiment that the King group is in favor of public input
and heeds appears on the surface to be false.

To begin wrapping up the discussion about this debacle, we
point out that DICSA failed to pay rent that was due under
the previous administration. Now called to task and required
to pay some back rent, complaints about it come from the
King camp followers alone. Iron County Doings and this
humble correspondent have always spoken in favor of
government and agencies running very thin on money. The
fact that DICSA had over $60 thousand dollars at its disposal
addresses that issue directly. The ideal situation, in our
opinion, is that government and its agencies should have
next to no discretionary funds in any account. If they they
have more, then we’ve been paying too much in taxes.

And that brings us near the end of this analysis (although
there’s enough material to fill a large college textbook) the
ad accuses Wayne Wales of operating the road commission
when “payroll could barely be made.”


That’s an ideal circumstance, so long as the payroll could
actually be made. I applaud that sort of diligence.

We point out here that along with the escalation of
antagonism in the King camp is a similar escalation in
at least one other municipality in the county. We offer
the reader, and all government officials, the simple
premise that you serve the public, so get your personal
initiatives and keep your emotions out of the equation
and do your jobs serving the public. Everything else is
self-serving. Such process that has no place in governance.
If you want to take on something that personally bothers
you, quit your government job, go get another one, and
then take on personal issues when you no longer have
political prestige and power distracting you from your
official duties and expending public funds.

While we have used facts to arrive at the content of
this article. It contains a bit of well founded opinion,
so read it with that in mind. And voters, please
understand that it is time to get the “Boss Hawg”

mentality displayed a while back in a TV show called “The
Dukes Of Hazard” out of Iron County politics. That
attitude is what has held Iron County back and forced so
many of your children to leave the region in order to earn
a living.

Retain Wayne Wales, and let’s have some real progress in
Iron County.

Bill Vajk

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Rare Endorsement

Iron County Doings has, for some time now, taken the
position that endorsing candidates is a dangerous
situation because so often candidates reverse their
positions after taking office.

The present situation is somewhat different, however.

Based on his performance as Chairman of the Iron County
Board, Wayne Wales has shown that he is able and willing,
despite opposition, to steer the county in a direction that
will serve the citizens in ways your humble correspondent
has not seen witnessed we moved here in 2003.

In addition, I have made a short lived sign (the election
to which the sign refers takes place on Feb. 28) supporting
retaining Mr. Wales and placed it out at the highway.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Northstar Health System Financials 2/16/2012

The Northstar financial report was released today. The
report shows another loss for the year consisting of
$499,000 expenses exceeding revenue.

How long can this continue?

Bill Vajk

Monday, February 13, 2012

About that Trolley

A few years ago your humble correspondent proposed a
trolley project for Iron River. A few pundits in the east
end of Iron County asked whether they could be included
in public transportation plans. You'd think a project like
that would gain traction, take off, and be implemented.

In desiring continuing self-supporting sustainability, I
expanded the project to include a railway school. In a word,
the project got quashed because local politicians charged
with providing the best for the public they represent
were unable to see past the ends of their noses, but more
importantly, there weren't perks included to allow the
local oligarchy to reach into and steal from whatever deep
pockets were to be tapped to put this project together and
to build it.

Today President Obama proposed an $80 Billion spending
budget for ground transportation. It is likely that number
will be cut, BUT!

Had those who are charged to grow the local economy
looked past personal interests, they should have seen
something like this coming. Their blindness was self-

Had we proceeded with project design, and railway design,
and school design, back when the project was proposed,
we would be in a position to benefit from this enhanced
federal spending, and we would have a shovel-ready
project all set for funding

Our failure to be ready falls squarely on the shoulders of
those few individuals who worked to quash the project
because it would provide no private benefit for themselves
or their friends.

That's the way business has been done here in Iron County
for a long time. This loss of opportunity should not pass
unnoticed by the average citizen.

Information on the budget for ground transportation can
be found at:

How do we prevent such people from holding back
advances and economic growth that Iron County
residents deserve in the future?

Get involved!

To anyone prepared to criticize this revelation as simple
sour grapes on part of the author, wake up and smell the
coffee. The days when information was held back from
the public to advance your private agendas at the expense
of the people you're supposed to be serving has ended.
From now on, Iron County will hear voices other than
yours and your stooges.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Puff Piece & the Lessons of Hunter v. Pittsburgh

One of the things that was lacking in the Iron County Press
until the advent of Iron County Doings is a rational analysis
of information that’s made available by local governments,
and the impact their announced plans can have on the lives
of the citizens. Today we begin an analysis of the report
placed on the internet by the City of Iron River that’s called
COLLABORATION PLAN.” This may be acquired in hard
copy at the Iron River City Hall or accessed on the internet

It is clear from the title alone that Iron River’s intention is
to consolidate even more. The only problem that is created
by the desire to consolidate is that it further consolidates
local political power that’s already in too few hands.

We repeat the text from the document that describes the
plan to consolidate the Cities of Gaastra and Caspian.

“Shared City Management – The City of Iron River is
directly adjacent to the City of Caspian and the City of
Gaastra. Both of these municipalities are physically
smaller in size and therefore maintain substantially
smaller work forces than Iron River. Although they
both rejected total consolidation in 2000, these two
communities continue to share many services through
existing collaborations and formal agreements. The
physical location as well as other common
administrative elements provides the ideal situation
to employ one City Manager to oversee the operations
of all three communities. Eliminating the duplication
and sharing the cost of this administrative position
could result in a substantial savings to each
municipality. Estimated annual savings for the City
of Iron River...$85,000.”

There are a number of propagandist falsehoods built
into this piece. The first one is in the projected savings.
The existing City of Iron River would not save $85,000
with the additional consolidation. The false projection is
the savings to the citizens of Gaastra and Caspian and
mislabeled as savings to Iron River.

The reality requires doing some arithmetic. The
projection simply eliminates two paid municipal
positions that cost the projected amount. That’s not
the right approach.

The 2010 population of Gaastra and Caspian represent
29% of the projected total population of a city that
combines all three cities. In 2011 the city manager’s pay,
including benefits and special considerations
approximates $250,000. 29% allocated to the added
cities amounts to a cost of $72,500 for those citizens.
So the projected $85,000 is replaced by $72,500
providing a savings of $12,500 to those citizens, or about
$10 per citizen to lose the level of control over their own
politicians that they now enjoy.

Of course, given enough time that “advantage” will
disappear soon enough. The pay raise schedule for Iron
River’s city manager has been established as we
previously published in November 2011. That schedule

2010 $104,939
2011 $111,235
2012 $117,909
2013 $124,982
2014 $132,482
2015 $140,431

And the increases continue unabated as far as the eye can
see, and beyond.

The average reader may think they’re safe from
consolidation because they voted it down in year 2000,
and they’ll vote it down again. But that’s a false sense of
security. State ordered consolidation, against the will of
the people, has happened in the past and held by the
courts to be legal.

We have only to look at the Supreme Court case of
Meriwether v. Garrett, 102 US 472,1880 for the principle:

“The right of the State to repeal the charter of Memphis
cannot be questioned. Municipal corporations are mere
instrumentalities of the State for the more convenient
administration of local government. Their powers are such
as the legislature may confer, and these may be enlarged,
abridged, or entirely withdrawn at its pleasure. This is
common learning, found in all adjudications on the subject
of municipal bodies and repeated by text-writers. There
is no contract between the State and the public that the
charter of a city shall not be at all times subject to
legislative control. All persons who deal with such bodies
are conclusively presumed to act upon knowledge of the
power of the legislature. There is no such thing as a
vested right held by any individual in the grant of
legislative power to them.”

In Hunter v. City of Pittsburgh, the state legislature
combined the cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny against
the will of the people.

The citizens of Pittsburgh voted in favor of consolidation.
The majority of the citizens of Allegheny voted against.
The State of Pennsylvania and the courts consolidated
the cities anyway.

The power structure of local Iron County politics does not
find a neutral arbiter at the state level. Beware.

This is the first of several articles that will analyze the
Iron River plan. It doesn’t seem to get any better as we
proceed. As Reagan copied a philosophy from the Russians,
“Trust but verify.” Right now the citizens of Gaastra and
Caspian are in a state of ignorance, not realizing their
municipalities have been announced targeted for
consolidation by their “big” neighbor. After all, there has
been no discussion or disclosure of Iron River’s plan in
either the Iron County Reporter or by the radio station
WIKB, up till now the two primary means of the people
getting the news.

Iron County Doings predicts consolidation unless the
two smaller cities take an active role in opposing it now,
not later. If the citizens of Gaastra and Caspian don’t
mind consolidating with the City of Iron River after
seeing the significant waste and ineptitude in past
Iron River consolidations, they simply have to wait and
do nothing. It is critical to remember that procrastination
is a decision.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Revisiting Parking, Apartments, and Reasonability

There was a report in the Detroit Free Press on Feb 3, 2012
about a housing project in the City of Pontiac, a city that has
experienced a downturn in population that began about the
same time as Iron River.

The news story is here:

Pontiac is a city that is in deep financial straits. In 2009 the
state placed the city in receivership. And while the population
is significantly larger than Iron River, median wages and such
data are similar to that of Iron County.

Despite such difficulties, Pontiac has managed to put together
a project to redevelop existing space into housing
approximating @20 million while Iron River sits around
designing its future based on whatever grants local
consultants can discover.

It is interesting that the $20 million project is expected to
result in 46 units. That's about $434,000 cost per unit.

Iron River's downtown apartments, much needed by our
aging, significantly non-driving, population, would probably
cost, per housing unit, between 3 and 4 % of what the Pontiac
project will.

Iron County and Iron River aren't in the bad financial shape
that Pontiac is. Why don't we have anyone, including
outside visionaries, working on improving the housing, and
other, situations in Iron County?

What is it about Iron County that can't even consolidate
school districts for such a small population? If the politicos
of the county can't get their act together in the best
interests of the people they claim to represent, how will
reasonability ever prevail?

We recently called attention to John Archocosky's parking
habits, sometimes in violation of municipal ordinance. The
only point of that discussion was the unreasonability of
ordinances that irrationally get in the way of progress. Iron
County Doings knows of no one who cares one way or another
just how Archocosky positions the wheels on his vehicle while
parking next to City Hall. If Archocosky doesn't understand
the problems we recount here, then perhaps he should resign
from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the
Iron County EDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and his
position as Iron River's City manager.

Many do care about the unreasonable behavior of local
politicos who continue to flex municipal muscle at the
public's expense. If Pontiac can develop 80,000 square
feet of a vacant Sears store, what, besides political ineptness,
is keeping Iron County and Iron River from redeveloping
every square foot of viable vacant buildings?

Bill Vajk

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