Friday, September 28, 2012

Ben Smith's latest letter - 9/28/2012

Associate Editor of this publication, Ben Smith,
has sent the following letter to the hard copy
news outlets in the Iron River region. Although
your humble correspondent disagrees with many
of his viewpoints, we give voice to them here on the
basis that our publication is as non-partisan as we
are able to make it and will endeavor to provide
for the dissemination of all viewpoints including
those I personally disagree with.Ben was appointed
associate editor for this publication with my full
knowledge of his political leanings because to do
otherwise would be a head-in-the-sand approach
to life.

To augment Mr. Smith’s viewpoint we publish,
without adding further political comment here,
the contents of the proposed constitutional


To the Editor:

Yesterday I received a campaign flyer from
a group called " Protecting Michigan Taxpayers"
asking me to vote NO on Prop. 2.  They cited
several letters as their reasons for opposing it  
It turns out the letters were from the Mich. Atty.
Gen. and are only ONE MAN'S OPINION until
they are upheld by a court of law.  This group is
located in Grand Rapids, Mich. @ 10 Monroe
Center, Suite 201.

Members of my family lived through the times of
the "Sit in strikes at Briggs Manufacturing" in the
Detroit area and the lockouts at other plants in
manufacturing areas, and the confrontations at
the "River Rouge Bridge" when the Michigan
Nat'l Guard was called out to disperse the strikers!

I encourage everyone to think carefully about the
purpose behind Prop 2.   All the people of Iron
County have to do is look at their neighbors in
Wisconsin where their Govenor attemped to
balance the State budget on the backs of working
men and women!
                                          Ben Smith

The proposed constitutional amendment appears on
the proof ballot at:



This proposal would:

- Grant public and private employees the constitutional
right to organize and bargain collectively through labor

- Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit
the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to
negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements,
including employees’ financial support of their labor
unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public
employees from striking.

- Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions
of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with
collective bargaining agreements.

- Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one
or more employees.

Should this proposal be approved?


Please review the ramifications and choose well when
voting on every issue.

Bill Vajk

Iron BOC - 9/25/2012

Chicaugon Lake - Again

The Chicaugon Lake milfoil, use license, boat launch,
enforcement, and camera issues came up again at the
September 25 Iron County Commission open meeting.
At an earlier meeting it was disclosed that a camera
had been placed to capture images of the boat launch
and that no authority had been granted by the county
or Stambaugh Township for the device.

It took a few weeks to bring forth an individual to
assume all political and legal fallout that could result
from the placement of the camera that had been
removed before the September 11 meeting. On the
25th, John Archocosky, former Iron River City
manager and formerly on the County Road
Commission Board, (among other things) and a
lakefront property owner stated that he had, without
authority or support from anyone, installed the camera,
and subsequently removed it. But on Sept 11, Joe
Shubat, a Chicaugon Lake Association member,
informed the County Board that the camera had
been emplaced to discourage vandalism, and he also
stated that it had been removed.

While Archocosky acknowledged that he accepts
full responsibility for the acts, it remains clear that
there's more to this episode than he has stated,
because clearly at least one additional member of the
Lake Association knew all about it, and what two
people know usually rapidly becomes common
knowledge in a small community like the lakefront
property owners.

But then, some of us have witnessed Mr. Archocosky's
antics before. Your humble correspondent believes that
the “idle hands are the devil's workshop” might have
played a role in this episode and we look forward to
more of the same now that Archocosky has “retired.”

Fortunately for all, the events took place on public
property where any expectation of privacy is debatable.

A second issue regarding the current Stambaugh Township
ordinance and enforcement of the ordinance surfaced
during the meeting of the 25th that was well attended by
an estimated 60 citizens. One citizen stated he was filing
a lawsuit regarding the issuance of a complaint by
Stambaugh Township when his vehicle towing a boat
trailer was parked in the public access parking lot
without a requisite showing that township mandated
fees for boat launch had been paid.

The individual, inadvertently or otherwise, apparently
set a trap for township law enforcement by parking a
vehicle with a boat trailer while having left his boat at
home. Township law enforcement presumes, when
seeing a vehicle and trailer in those circumstances, that
an actual boat launch had been made. In this case that
premise was not true.

Unfortunately, for anyone who becomes involved in
any legal action in the Iron County Unified Trial Court,
appearing under these or any similar circumstances
before Judge Schwedler creates a very iffy situation
where trumped-up charges, at least as often as not,
results in a court finding favoring whoever is in the
court's good graces rather than on the actual merits
of the case.

And that, brings us to another issue. Schwedler is
elected only as probate court judge. The Michigan
Supreme Court assigns him the function of overseeing
trials in both a district court and a circuit court setting,
while the real courts of jurisdiction for Iron County
exist in nearby Iron Mountain. This assignment is
periodically made with a termination corresponding
to the election cycle.

The practice finds some authority in a state
constitutional amendment that is subsequently
misappropriated by the Michigan Supreme Court which
repeatedly assigns Schwedler a "temporary"
appointment that constructively becomes permanent.

Iron County Doings urges the state legislature to set a
one election cycle (4 years) term limit for any judge
who accepts an appointment to a "unified trial court"
position anywhere in the state with no possibility of
reelection to any judgeship in Michigan later on[1].

The concentration of judicial power to a single judge in
a county like ours is not good for its citizens, and long
term judgeships of this sort in a small community readily
lend themselves to the careless creation of fiefdoms
lacking appropriate oversight or correction. Lord Acton
was quite correct in his observation that “power corrupts”
and the conventional extensions of the concept are equally
true in this instance.

The fortuitous outcome of the September 25 meeting
relevant to Chicaugon Lake was the dissolution of any prior
agreements about lake use regulations between Iron County
and Stambaugh Township. So long as there are any lake
infection vectors available that cannot be regulated, such
as swimmers, wild animals, waterfowl, and others, there
cannot be a successful elimination of the milfoil pest in our

Part of the price of enjoying the fruits of a world economy,
as we do, is the importation of nuisances that were
previously isolated from our region by the distance alone.
We’ve had plenty of warning throughout history that such
a phenomenon presents a danger to communities where
commerce connects people who, historically, had never
met. The “black death” of the middle ages provided a clear
example as did anthrax outbreaks that resulted in the
burning of entire villages with the scattering of survivors,
and on into the civil war period where “white man”
diseases found a foothold among native Americans.

Milfoil will eventually succumb to newly invented measures,
provided those measures don't create some altogether
new problem for us. The U.S. government expended
significant resources attempting to stop the spread of
the Japanese beetle when that insect first manifested on the
US east coast, but to no avail. Before we expend fortunes
on containing milfoil we might, as a human race that is
dependent on bees as part of the mechanism necessary
to our food supply, concern ourselves with the world
wide die off of the all important bees. I noticed it in my
garden this past summer. Didn’t you? My string beans
and tomatoes were hit by the September frost while still
bearing unfertilized flowers. Someone better find a
working solution for the bee problem, and do it fast.

Cameras indeed. What were you thinking?

Bill Vajk

[1] This would encourage qualified senior lawyers
who are approaching retirement to accept the position
and thus the appointed judge is less likely to have a
personal agenda to enhance their own power and
prestige. In the aging population of the United States
it should prove no difficulty to find suitable
candidates and the citizens of smaller counties
would never be stuck with a less than ideal judge
for long periods. Michigan should also reconsider
requiring the retirement of state judges at age 70 as
human longevity has provided many of us with highly
productive elder years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Michigan Proposed Constituional Amendments

The proof ballots, as to the candidates and other issues to be
voted on November 6, 2012 currently stands, can be seen at:


A careful reading and analysis of the proposed constitutional
amendments shows the requested changes to be demonstrably
driven by private interests that, if approved, will profit them
at public expense.

We also recommend voting against entrenched machine
politicians. We have received word that a few individuals
intend to file as write in candidates running against machine
politics that pervades Iron County. As they are non-partisan
candidates, we are able to support their endeavors and urge
all voters to NOT vote the party line on election day, but
carefully select candidates for office based on who will
best represent your interests.

Bill Vajk

Friday, September 14, 2012

Iron River City Is Insane

Today, September 14, was property tax day for summer taxes
here in Michigan. I paid mine and then drove down the
alleyway behind 413 Plum Street in Iron River to find an
exact repeat of the situation I wrote about here a while back.

The pavement has deteriorated. Instead of repaving, as would
be a permanent repair, Iron River City filled in the washouts
with gravel.

And of course this past summer it washed out once again.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over 
again and expecting different results. On this basis one can 
properly understand that Iron River City is insane.

This isn't the only section of pavement washed out, but it 
is representative. Through the trees you can see that the 
gravel that washed away is in the back yard of  a house
on a lawn that the city requires be mowed to suit their 
ideas. But the city doesn't see any need to maintain 
public property in a safely usable way for the public,
so the insanity grows as we understand that the public
must obey ordinances, but the city has no responsibility
to maintain infrastructure the public has paid for dearly.

This is a simple form of corruption, where tax monies are
spent not on what the public needs, but rather on things
the city council, and the DDA, take a personal interest in.

I'm happy to pay justly due taxes. I'm not at all satisfied
with the way Iron River City spends that tax money. I'm
looking at and discussing one bit of infrastructure because
it adjoins my property in Iron River. Doubtless there are
hundreds of similar places where infrastructure is regularly
permitted to deteriorate by a city council that refuses to see
past their personal interests.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Happiness Factor

Where do we find life's pleasures these days in Iron County.
How about in the USA? These questions come to mind
because we enjoyed guests this summer, some folks we had
never met before.

Rob Shaver came to his 50th high school reunion, and
brought along his wife Sharon. They dropped by as a complete
surprise to me one summer evening just as we were about
to leave to go over to another of our properties, but as Rob
announced his name to me I knew right away who he was
and why he was here as I had heard a bit of the history of
the property we now call our home. Rob had grown up in
the house where I now live.

Gloria spent time chatting with Sharon as I showed Rob
around the property and part of the house. Quite a lot has
changed here since Rob left in 1964. In fact his first take was
that what is here now is a completely different house. It isn't.
It merely had some additions and a new overcoat, making
things look completely different. It came as news to me that
the first of the additions was built before the Shaver's arrived
here in 1951. The original house was approximately 20 feet
by 20 feet and built as a vertical log structure of 2 stories. It
is my understanding that such construction is in the Finnish

About a month later I received a letter from the Shavers. You
can find that at:

I have published it because there may be interest by others
who knew Rob during the years he was here and he wrote a
very informative letter.

The great delight Rob and Sharon took in being here brought
to mind that whole in the 20th and 21th centuries the moments
of universal delight were few and far between. I wasn't around
for the end of World War 1, but I know rather a lot about the
end of WW2, the removal from the living of bin Laden, and
the moon landing (for those who understand that we actually
did do it--including folks like me who had a direct hand in the
achievement,) moments that were pretty much universally
appreciated and celebrated with great gusto around the world.

But for the most part our delights are personal and private. To
me that means that as a human race we're not experiencing
very many exemplary giant steps in progress that we aspire
to, and perhaps the relative dearth of such achievements
could be improved by fanning some flames under those
clearly able to achieve great things.

Instead we see politicians ripping one another to shreds.

I am not alone in wanting to hear what politicos are going
to achieve for all of us rather than the 8&1/2 by 11 glossy
card I just received from the Michigan Democratic Party
telling me how evil, in their opinion, Dan Benishek has
become since going to Washington on our behalf.

What is wrong with you people who write and spend money
sending out this trash? Doesn't any political party have an
agenda or plans for the state or our region that are worthy of
disseminating to the population? Someone does, so why are
you keeping that a secret?

In the meanwhile I was pleased to meet the Shavers. I had
a similar experience a few years ago revisiting my boyhood
home, so I have some idea of how he felt. I was pleased to
be party to assisting him enjoying this period of reminiscing,

Rob and Sharon's happiness added happiness and value to
our lives. It is catching.

Bill Vajk

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