Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Opening on Iron County Doings






Bill Vajk

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 16, 2013

Drug Store(s)-the rest of the story

After we reported that another business in Iron River
bites the dist, I received an email from Bob and Marla
Busakowski that said, in essence:

1. The Corner Drug Store is not closing.

2. The business has been sold.

3. 2 drug stores have always survived in Iron River and as
former owners they believe will continue to do so in the
future.

4. "Please check your facts before posting misinformation."

Had I posted their email as fact I would have been posting
misinformation. After I received the email, I placed a phone
call to the CEO of MK Stores, the owner of Snyder Drugs,
and left a message respectfully asking Mr. Katers to verify
or deny the local rumors that they had purchased The Corner
Drug Store in Iron River.

Mr. Katers, relying on the unnecessary rudeness that we have
become accustomed to receiving from "the pseudo elite" in this
region of the USA, refused to return my call for that civilized
request. For his part, Robert Busakowski didn't do any better,
referring to the new owners merely as "the new owners."

What's the big secret, Bub?

Now that weeks have passed, I sought out an unquestionable
means of verifying the rumors and have discovered that yes
indeed, MK Stores has indeed purchased what has for decades
been known as "The Corner Drug Store" which business has
"bit the dust" precisely as we reported here.

The simple fact is that it became financially advantageous
for Bob and Marla Busakowski to sell assets that brought
them more money than their profits for some period in the
future would be. Whatever the particular reasoning is for
selling, they sold, not to another individual owner as has
been the history of a continuing business in the past, but to
a chain drug store firm that simply makes the facility an
extension of their corporate entity. The individuality of The
Corner Drug Store, passed down from Earl Melstrom to
Jim Sapletal to Robert Busakowski, all local residents for
the duration, is gone forever. The "mom and pop" store so
many folks say they love has closed, and the operation is
an operation that is at the small end of "the big box"
corporation.

That's OK, we cannot live in the past. I don't know how
many years Bob ran his store without so much as a sign on
the door telling folks what his hours of business were. I
noticed one had been placed on his door a while back
and thought that a great improvement in his "service model."
Perhaps it wasn't his improvement after all.

I do have to say here and now that despite Ron Katers'
rudeness towards me, the people who work for him in Iron
River have been exemplary in providing excellent service.
I would hope that seeps down into MK Stores newest
acquisition. Having been on the receiving end of what
passes for Bob Busakowski's friendly service, I don't
think that dog can be taught any new tricks. On the other
hand he's only about 60 years old so he should learn to be
a little more polite for the duration of his working years.

But an interesting fact I discovered in my perusing the historical
records of this now closed business is that Jim's Pharmacy, the
former legal name for The Corner Drug Store, had a very nice
profit sharing plan that supplied some 7 individuals with a pension.
Later, after Jim died, 6 individuals. But of course the origins of
that plan were in 1978 when things in Iron River were a whole
lot different from today. One wonders how that will be managed
now that the fund can no longer grow based on profitability, and
how much of the growth in the value of the business was put
where it rightfully probably belongs, to benefit the people who
helped make that value grow.

Indeed, the profit sharing aspects could be the most interesting
of all.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Out Of Control

When governments get out of control, eventually someone
returns the favor. And despite the fact that such people
usually land in prison for long terms, the result for the
community is never a good one.

=======================================
This matter arose because of a "ready-to-serve" fee imposed
on the water bills of some unoccupied parcels that Markham
owned in the city of Manistique. The fee was imposed in order
to repay federal loans to upgrade water treatment plants to
keep them in compliance with federal law. Markham did not
understand how there could be a legal basis for billing for water
service on property where no water was actually used, so he
refused to pay those bills. Unpaid utility bills in Manistique
eventually are turned over to the county to collect as part of
property taxes, which exposed Markham to the potential loss
of his property. The prospect of losing his property, which
Markham considered to be his only asset, led him to express
his frustration and anger in menacing language on his website.
Markham posted references to "murder, arson, and suicide,"
"crushing the skulls of or setting afire my tormentors," and the
spilling of "innocent blood."

=========================================
http://tinyurl.com/mmcj6zh

The Michigan readers already know the length and breadth of
the charging not to use water gambit played out by so many
municipalities in this state so we'll not address the ongoing
problem here, but in court where it rightly belongs.

But this publication did want to call attention to the fact that
these practices are seen by many as universally corrupt and
without any sort of merit. In effect they are just another form
of income redistribution because water should righfully, and
by statute, be paid for by the consumers rather than those
who happen to own property in a community that takes from
those, mostly out of state or out of town property owners, who
do not get to vote on such matters and usually present no
political threat to the city council members. The other subgroup
of the population are those who cannot pay their water bill for
whatever reason, and are not only charged for water, sewer,
and garbage despite the fact that they receive none of the services
so long as one bill is missed, but are heavily penalized as well,
usually with no hope of ever catching up without outside
intervention such as a charity.

The nicest thing to be said about such practices is that they are
heartless. And from that point of departure the discussion can
only get worse, so I stop here.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Business Bites the Dust

On November 27 I was advised that products were being boxed
up and hauled away from The Corner Drugstore and it looked
like the business was closing. So today I took a look and took a
photo of the place being dismantled and boxed up.





Is there really a large enough population in this end of Iron
County to support two pharmacies, one that has financial
strength by being part of a small chain, and the other that
was a free standing independently owned business?

In my opinion, the population isn't adequate for 2 pharmacies,
and marginally big enough for one. The question that remains
is how long will that one pharmacy hang on?

It hardly matters that the Chamber of Commerce encourages
the population to buy locally when even if that desire were met
with 100% compliance, the local population is no longer adequate
to support very many businesses.

Please note that the anchor businesses in Iron River are all parts
of small chains. Angeli's, Snyder's, Shopco Hometown, Krist Oil
and Holiday Gas can depend on business and profits generated
outside Iron County to keep the local aspects of their business
afloat for a while longer. But that's not a permanent situation by
any means.Unless a concerted effort is made to repopulate Iron
County, the business sectors will become ghost towns within a
couple of decades.

Bill Vajk

Iron County's Biggest Turkey of the Year

This year Iron County Doings awards the Biggest Turkey
of the Year award to Iron River's Mayor Terry Tarci.

It was bad enough when Mayor Tarci told me, in person
at the beginning of a City Commission meeting, that he
doesn't have to read the newspaper or anything else for
that matter, because his wife tells him if there's anything
important going on.

Nobody elected Mr. Tarci's wife to office, they elected him
and he's clearly not doing the job he was awarded. The way
things are working, she is making decisions for him that the
people expect and demand he make.

Well that wasn't quite enough, although telling Ben Smith in
that same July 31st meeting that he was "out of order" and
to "shut up and sit down" came very close to achieving the
recognition we award him today. The only thing that held us
back at that point was the simple fact we had other contenders
for this honor.

But the event that tilted the balance in Mayor Tarci's favor was
a combination of his evasions regarding future repairs of Blossom
Street combined with his unacceptable violation of the United
States Constitution (the right to petition government) and the
Michigan Open Meetings Act MCL 15.263(5).

We have a recording of the pertinent segment of the meeting
available for readers, and the world, of Mayor Tarci's disgusting,
in this writer's opinion, behavior during the September 18, 2013
meeting. The minutes of that meeting do not report what we have
recorded and put on the internet for you. The excerpt is about
12 minutes long and I ask that you listen to the whole thing.

Part of the way through Mayor Tarci states that the city council
will make the decisions on repairing Blossom Street or not. The
question was asked regardless of what we are asking for? Tarci
would only acknowledge that the statements would be taken into
consideration.

That's not acceptable. The purpose of a representative form of
government is to do what the constituents express they want,
and to find ways to achieve that no matter how difficult the
problem. Instead, Mayor Tarci places the decisions of the city
commission above the needs and demands of the electorate.

Please listen to the meeting excerpt at:

http://bill-vajk.angelfire.com/IR-is-this-the-way.mp3

So Mayor Tarci, it is my opinion that you have earned the
designation of Iron County's Biggest Turkey of the Year
and I present this award on the traditional Turkey Day,
Thanksgiving of 2013.

Bill Vajk

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Lawyers Again (still...)

I sent the following to the Iron County Reporter as a letter
to the editor. We'll have to wait another day to see whether
or not they'll print it.

=========================
Michigan’s Rules for Professional Conduct as they apply to
lawyers, part of rule 1.2(a) states, “A lawyer shall seek the
lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available
means permitted by law and these rules.” This statement
qualifies the opposite to be illegal. Why is it, then, that no
one has been complaining to the Attorney Disciplinary
Board when a lawyer, working for and paid by his client,
writes clearly illegal revisions like the two ordinance
amendments published recently for the City of Gaastra?
They have to do with noxious weeds and unsafe buildings.
See the October 30 edition of this newspaper. State law
specifically prohibits self-rule cities from creating
misdemeanors, and jail time, unless the state has already
permitted it. See MCL 117.3(k). As anyone who has lived
in Iron County for a while knows, the local municipalities all
copy from one another. What Gaastra has done will be
coming to your city soon unless they are stopped. After
WW2 Pastor Neimoeller presented his famous “First they
came…” statement on what happened during the war, with
the essence contained in the last line that went, “Then they
came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The law is created by us for all of us. There are no privileged
few who are above the law in the United States. It harms all
of us whenever someone is permitted to flout the law at our
expense. This can only continue so long as we, the public,
permit it to happen through our inaction. This problem isn't
limited to Gaastra by any means, but prevails throughout the
region.

=====================================

MCL 113.3(k) follows. I have made the pertinent requirement
stand out in bold print.

*******************************************
(k) Adopting, continuing, amending, and repealing the city 
ordinances and for the publication of each ordinance before it 
becomes operative. Whether or not provided in its charter, 
instead of publishing a true copy of an ordinance before it 
 becomes operative, the city may publish a summary of the 
ordinance. If the city publishes a summary of the ordinance, 
the city shall include in the publication the designation of a 
location in the city where a true copy of the ordinance can be
 inspected or obtained. 

A charter provision to the contrary notwithstanding, a 
city may adopt an ordinance punishable by  imprisonment 
for not more than 93 days or a fine of not  more than 
$500.00, or both, if the violation substantially corresponds 
 to a violation of state law that is a misdemeanor for which 
the maximum period of imprisonment is 93 days. 

Whether or not provided in its charter, a city may adopt a 
provision of a state statute for which the maximum period of 
imprisonment is 93 days or the Michigan vehicle code, 
 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.1 to 257.923. Except as otherwise 
provided under the Stille-DeRossett-Hale single state 
construction code act, 1972 PA 230, MCL 125.1501 to 
125.1531, a city may adopt a law, code, or rule that has 
been promulgated and adopted by an authorized agency of 
this state pertaining to fire, fire hazards, fire prevention, or 
fire waste, and a fire prevention code, plumbing code, 
heating code, electrical code, building code, refrigeration 
machinery code, piping code, boiler code, boiler operation 
code, elevator machinery code, an international property 
maintenance code, or a code pertaining to flammable liquids 
and gases or hazardous chemicals, that has been 
promulgated or adopted by this state, by a department, 
board, or other agency of this state, or by an organization 
or association that is organized and conducted for the 
 purpose of developing the code, by reference to the law, 
code, or rule in an adopting ordinance and without 
publishing the law, code, or rule in full. The law, code, 
or rule shall be clearly identified in the ordinance and its 
purpose shall be published with the adopting ordinance. 
Printed copies of the law, code, or rule shall be kept in 
the office of the city clerk, available for inspection by, 
and distribution to, the public at all times. The 
publication shall contain a notice stating that a complete 
copy of the law, code, or rule is made available to the 
public at the office of the city clerk in compliance with 
state law requiring that records of public bodies be made 
available to the general public. Except as otherwise 
provided in this subdivision, a city shall not enforce a 
provision adopted by reference for which the maximum 
period of imprisonment is greater than 93 days. A city 
may adopt section 625(1)(c) of the Michigan vehicle 
code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.625, by reference in an 
adopting ordinance and shall provide that a violation of 
that ordinance is punishable by 1 or more of the following:
********************************************

There are no exceptions to the bold print section. Where noxious
weeds are concerned, MCL 247.64(3) tells us what is permitted 
in the first sentence:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
(3) An owner who refuses to destroy noxious weeds as 
provided in this section is subject to a fine of not more 
than  $100.00. When collected, the fine shall become a part 
of the "noxious weed control fund" of the township, village, 
or city. By ordinance, the township, city, or village may 
designate the refusal to destroy noxious weeds as provided 
in this section as a municipal civil infraction, in which case the 
fine shall be a civil fine. If the city establishes an administrative 
hearings bureau pursuant to statute to adjudicate and impose 
sanctions for blight violations, the city by ordinance may 
 designate the refusal to destroy noxious weeds as provided 
in this section as a blight violation and any fine imposed shall 
be a civil fine.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is clear that the City of Gaastra's lawyer is prohibited from
advising his client to enact the illegal ordinance revisions, and
further, enabled the city commission to violate state law as 
they could not have done without his assistance. 

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Lawyers Role in Municipal Illegality

The City of Gaastra has outgrown their britches. Two ordinance
revisions, #36 and #39, have to do with "unsafe buildings" and
"noxious weeds" respectively. Both these ordinances have added
an illegal coercive punishment of jail time. That's prohibited by
state law in each instance, but the City Commission doesn't care,
they want what they want and got the City Attorney to write the
modifications for them.

The statutes regulating municipal oversight of buildings are
convoluted and complex, but the only jail time I found in them is
for the most extreme cases of refusing to correct health dangers
resulting from noncomplying outhouses.

The statute regulating noxious weeds establishes a maximum
penalty of $100, thereby prohibiting all the irrational escalation
features like "each day constitutes a new offense." Penalties
increasing to $500 per incident along with 30 days of jail are
prohibited by state law.

Another nasty feature provides that the city may seek a permanent
court injunction against the violation. The effect of such an action is
that further violation(s) escalate the penalties into a felony class by
making the responsibility subject to significant penalties and jail time
counted in years instead of days.

All these features of the newly revised ordinances violate state law.

The regulations concerned with attorneys licensed by the state
prohibit lawyers from encouraging their clients to violate state
laws. It is past time for municipal lawyers in Iron County who
have enabled and encouraged their clients to violate state laws
to be called to the mat before their licensing boards. It is likely that
city commissioners are ignorant of their limitations where power to
enact ordinances is concerned. The wanton illegal behavior of the
lawyers, the last layer of protection that citizens have against insane
measures being undertaken by local governments, has the one
individual educated in precisely that discipline, enabling and
encouraging their clients into illegality precisely because nobody
has ever filed a formal complaint against them for this misbehavior.

It is time that ignoring the lawyers comes to an end. Anyone who
wishes to join me in submitting a complaint against Gaastra's city
attorney can send me email.

Bill Vajk


Monday, October 28, 2013

IR City Council Incompetent


I submitted the following to both the Iron Mountain Daily News
as well as the Iron County Reporter. The Daily News, as far as
I have been able to discern from emails with the editor there, is
deathly afraid of being sued by any individual cast in a bad light
in any article, even letters to the editor. That, in my opinion, is
a lousy way to run any publication, let alone a newspaper.

Our freedoms are sourced, by many authorities on the subject,
in a document called the Magna Carta. What if those barons,
who forced the English king to capitulate and sign the document,.
had been afraid of repercussions after the fact. Fear of the
wrongdoer is precisely what leads to the class bully as well
as political tyranny. We awarded Mr. Perlongo a "Lump of
Coal" award for his performance on Iron River's city council
last year. Please see:

http://ironcountydoings.blogspot.com/2013/02/first-annual-awards.html

Our letter to the editors follows:

=====================

They say that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Vigilance
is not enough, people have to act on the information as well.
One of the initiatives scheduled for the next ballot in Iron River
is the elimination of “conflict of interest” from the Iron River
city charter. The change was introduced by Al Perlongo and
approved by the city council in a meeting on August 15, 2012.
He cast the deciding vote. His membership on the council,
while concurrently being fire chief, was specifically prohibited
by state laws and the very charter restriction he illegally voted
to eliminate. Perlongo was in violation of charter and laws but
he felt he had a higher calling that was more important and, just
like Richard Nixon, he put his personal interests first. He should
not benefit from this violation of state law (MCL 15.182, 15.183)
and the charter (§ 2.05(a).) Why did the state have to get involved
before Perlongo could be persuaded to resign? Where was our
local political “leadership” on this?

I have once again written to the Michigan Attorney General and
the county prosecutor, this time asking that the ballot initiative be
removed before the election. As the time is very short, I urge all
Iron River taxpayers and voters to write, or call, the prosecutor
and the Attorney General.

Fredrick Hayek, in his landmark book The Road To Serfdom,
writes that man is free who must obey only the law, not other
men. Hayek’s proposition is mostly true. Does the proposed
amendment to the city charter impinge on your freedoms? Yes,
by allowing an individual’s personal interests to control while
overriding law. At the same time it places us ever more firmly
on the road to serfdom, a road we really don’t want to be on.

===================================

The problem with the state laws is that they lack the teeth of
explicit criminality, and political figures like Iron River's
mayor only seek to enforce laws that work somehow, in any
way, to their own advantage. We repeat, from our earlier
article, a quotation that seems not only appropriate, but worthy
of repetition because it remains true today for Iron County:

"It is not to be denied, that the leaders of the radical party
in the Gulf states since the Rebellion have many of them
been men of bad character, and without principle, and
that still more of them have been ignorant, and unused to
the exercise of political power."[1]

They flex their "power muscles" by making a big deal of fining
the owners of the Coast to Coast building demonstrating,
once again, that the City of Iron River is averse to all business
that is trying to make the local economic situation better. Is it
any wonder Iron River is such an economic failure? Why isn't
the city, and the Chamber of Commerce, taking steps to
encourage business coming into the city and the county?

Elected officials at all levels take an oath of office, but Iron
River's politicos have been very ignorant of what that means,
behaving instead as though they have inherited a local
fiefdom, and behave like a landlord of yesteryear instead
of an enlightened contributor to the local economy.


The city council minutes of 3/20/2013 have the following
information as the penultimate entry:

"Perlongo tendered his letter of resignation effective 9 a.m., 
Thursday, March 21, 2013 from the Iron River City Council. 
 Tarsi thanked Perlongo for his time in office."

What is omitted, of course, is the reason for the resignation.
The county prosecutor notified Mr. Perlongo that his holding
office concurrently with being the fire chief is prohibited by
state law. The present problem is that Perlongo's resignation
left unfinished business that the members of the city council 
have proven incompetent to resolve. If they cannot take
care of such a simple matter, what of more complex issues?

They've clearly proved themselves incapable of finding
reasonable resolution to those as well. Just look around you
in the city of Iron River. And while you're at it, take a look 
at the heating bill for city hall and ask yourself, "Why?"

Bill Vajk

[1] American Constitutional Decisions, Charles Fairman,
Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1948

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lawless City

The following was transmitted to the listed recipients today
18 October 2013:

 ========================================

COMPLAINT

Ms. Melissa Powell                Attorney General Bill Schuette
Facsimile: (906) 875-0646     miag@michigan.gov

Perry Franzoi
citymanager@ironriver.org

Dear Recipients:

When legal pressure was finally applied to Mr. Alfred Perlongo
whose membership on Iron River’s City Council was illegal
because he had a prohibited conflict of interest led to his
resignation, the undersigned believed all problems caused by
that episode in Iron River’s history was resolved.

I was mistaken.

On August 15, 2012, the Iron River City Council considered
and approved a city charter amendment to section 2.05(a). A
copy of the minutes is attached to this letter. The amendment is
designed to remove the prohibition against conflict of interest,
the exact charter restriction that Perlongo was violating by his
membership on the city council, and the exact restriction for
which his illegal affirmative vote was the deciding vote on the
measure.

On September 11, 2012, the issue of Perlongo’s illegal
participation was brought forth in a special meeting. Minutes
are attached. No resolution was achieved because the City of
Iron River and its city council behaved and continue to behave
in the lawless fashion that is the hallmark of this city.

I have been advised that the Attorney General and the
Governor of this state have signed off approving the proposed
charter amendment and that this issue is now scheduled to
appear on the November 2013 ballot for approval by the voters.

In as much as the approval of the measure by Iron River’s City
Council is void, the undersigned, as a taxpayer in the City of Iron
River, objects and complains to the addressees of this letter of
complaint requesting that the appropriate legal action be taken to
remove the measure modifying Iron River’s City Charter before
the pending election.

                Sincerely,



                William J. Vajk
                bill.vajk@gmail.com

Encl:
Iron River Charter: excerpt


Section 2.05.  Prohibitions.

(a) Holding Other Office.  Except where authorized by law, no
council member shall hold any other elected public office during
the term for which the member was elected to the council.  No
council member shall hold any other City office or employment
during the terms for which the member was elected to the council. 
No former council member shall hold any compensated appointive
office or employment with the City until one year after the expiration
of the term for which the member was elected to the council.  No
council member during the elected term shall hold any compensated
or appointive office or employment on or with any intergovernmental
agency or authority currently involved in a contractual relationship
with the City.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit
the council from selecting any former council member to represent
the City on the governing board of any regional or other
intergovernmental agency.

=========================================

See the following for submitted information:

http://www.ironriver.org/downloads/minutes/2012/08-15-2012.pdf

http://www.ironriver.org/downloads/minutes/2012/09-11-2012.pdf


Bill Vajk

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Final Notice to Iron County

From:
William J. Vajk
14 October 2013

To:
Mrs. Melaine Camps Ms. Melissa Powell
mcamps@ironmi.org Facsimile: (906) 875-0646

Mr. Carl Lind Mr. Jim Brennan
emailed                 emailed

Dear Mrs. Camps: I have grown weary of notifying the other
local politicians regarding the illegality of Iron River’s imposing
illegal excise taxes disguised as legitimate charges relevant to
their water system. In fact, I was weary of notifications to your
predecessor, but since you are relatively new to your position,
you have this final notice before suit regarding 413 Plum Street,
Iron River. Please note that the local water/sewer ordinances
were illegal when originally enacted in 2000, and the most
recent enactments, modifying the ordinances, continue to be
illegal for the same reasons.

But this letter is to you and Iron County since, following the
lead of the City of Iron River, you are presently in violation
of state laws by following collections procedures lacking
statutory authority for excise taxes illegally imposed by the City
of Iron River. To simplify matters explaining some of the
illegality of your part, I have attached a copy of Attorney
General Opinion #7263. It is for you, as an elected official,
to determine whether you will stupidly, as their dupe, follow
the precedent established by those who came before you,
or whether you will obey the constitution and the laws of the
state of Michigan as you promised when you took your oath
of office. Please read enclosed the AGO carefully and
understand it and all its implications.

This is the final notice before lawsuit. Our state Attorney
General has been CC’d a copy of this letter since the executive
branch of the state will be in the sad position of attempting to
defend that which the attached AGO has held illegal, although
for the life of me I cannot comprehend why the Attorney
General’s office would state your actions are illegal one day,
and then blindly defend the same actions some months later.

Iron County has a long and much revered history of stupidly
violating state and federal laws. We will shortly see if that
stupidity prevails in AD 2013. That I lack respect for the
opinions, and practices of local politicians has history as the
teacher. The lack of respect has been well earned.

Sincerely,
s- William J. Vajk

CC: Attorney General Bill Schuette, miag@michigan.gov


==========================

For a copy of the Attorney General Opinion please see

http://www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2010s/op10342.htm

Will stupidity continue to reign in Iron County. 

Bill Vajk

Friday, October 11, 2013

General Observations About Our National Government

There's an asinine government shutdown at the moment.

I liken the finger pointing to the echos in a multi-
directional cave. The origin is in the direction
opposite to the last echo, aka the finger point.

Our (USA) government has functioned pretty well for
most of its existence. It falters when change greater
then it can absorb is imposed.

I think Ben Franklin would be a very interesting
character to have alive and observing the modern day
goings on. Perhaps some brilliant programmer can
assemble a group of virtual Ben neurons and program
them to emulate him so we can get his answer to the
questions that besiege us today.

It wouldn't solve anything, of course. But we'd have
a definitive answer to the question whether the USA
would have survived if the founding fathers had to
solve modern problems. As if slavery weren't difficult
enough.

Perhaps they'd simply have evaded the issues, just as
they did with slavery, and just as much of the "ruling
class" is doing today.

Did you see the huge gathering of illegal aliens on the
Washington Mall the other day? The mall that was opened
just for them, while veterans were locked out of the
open air memorial built to honor the WW2 fallen?

Those illegal aliens will doubtless eventually become
US citizens. I don't object to that, but just wait
till they realize that once they're no longer a member
of an underdog class, the same people who welcomed them,
smiled, and squeezed their hands will turn against them
just as they have turned against America's middle class.

Platitudes, oh platitudes. As my now deceased long time
good friend Alex Zelchenko used to mutter, "They all lie."

http://tinyurl.com/lapvq7x

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
(Probably best attributed to Alphonse Karr (1808-90)
"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose")

Bill Vajk

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back to Basics

The following was trimmed down to fit the Iron County
Reporter's criteria for letters to the editor. Additional
comments follow.

----------------------------------------------------------
What Iron County needs today is to get back to the basics
because we are in a free fall that terminates in failure of the
community unless we take action starting today. And today
is possibly too late. Part of the solution requires a change
of heart of the population by grasping control of our local
governments and demanding performance by our politicians.
They’ve been running wild for quite some time now.

The two essentials that no community can ever get away
from are sufficient population and enough jobs to support
the needs of the people. At present the local numbers for
both have dropped below our capacity to provide for our
own needs. So we have inane decisions by government to
force people to pay for water and sewers they don’t use,
garbage they don’t put by the curb, and closing public
thoroughfares that fail.

Apparently we have a lot of housing that’s being abandoned.
A government entity needs to be charged with repopulating
the county and reusing those houses. A larger population
forms the basis for more sales of essentials and could
encourage manufacturing to come to Iron County. We need
to stop wasting time and money on frills like disk golf and
open mike nights. The county’s EDC has failed us like Nero
fiddling while Rome burned.

As a prelude to further elimination of wasteful municipal
governments through consolidation, put a stop to Iron River
City Hall employees working 82% of the hours everyone
else puts in while collecting 100% of the pay. We know that
governments traditionally operate very inefficiently. City hall
can be cut back to 50% of the hours and 50% pay without
any shortfall in the functioning of government. Money saved
would pay for the emergency repairs to roads.
 ----------------------------------------------------------

I've been told there's a lot of abandoned housing around Iron
County. In as much as governments end up owing it, there's
no reason those deemed to be habitable cannot be sold
under land contract with a $1 per month payment, plus taxes
and utilities with a contracted schedule of improvements over
the traditional 5 year land contract as a gateway to ownership.
At the five year point, the sale reverts to a traditional
mortgage. With a 5 year track record of making regular
payments and making improvements to a home, banks will
have no problem lending to the new owner regardless of their
prior financial record.


That should attract folks to move into the county. It would
solve the problems associated with abandoned (empty)
houses deteriorating, (see also the broken window theory)
while collecting utility payments and taxes that would help
local governments.

Right now, the abject laziness of our elected government
officials helps to drive that abandoned housing into slum
status. They, the elected officials, are awarded a position
of trust by the electors, and they're letting us down. It is
their professed function to do the their best for the public,
and to address each and every public need, not just the
ones that tweak their personal interest.

So darn it, get your lazy selves out of those chairs and do
something about it!

You have eyes!

You have ears!

You have brains!

Use them!

Bill Vajk

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Education and General Government are Electorate Driven

The following is my reply to an article published in
Bridges magazine about the comparison between
Windsor, Ontario schools and Michigan schools. A
significant local event (Blossom Street) is incorporated
for comparison.

http://tinyurl.com/qbfco8o

I went through high school at Princeton NJ during
the period before the university professors were
receiving the high levels of pay they now achieve. As
a result, I attended public high school with the professors'
children. The pressure from those academics to
guarantee that their children received a first class
education was incessant. Princeton High School was
in a constant competition with one other school in the
state for first place, and many years Princeton won.

Then the university began paying better salaries and the
professors sent their children to private schools they
could finally afford. Princeton High School's status
slipped and will probably never recover. As a transplant
to the UP of this state I have come to the view that
parents who don't demand any better of their schools
than they do of their politicians reap the rewards as,
unfortunately, do their children.

In an angry meeting last night (9.18.2013) the city
council in Iron River told the people that there is no
money to repair half a block of Blossom Street so it
will remain closed. But where were those people during
the past 20 years while the street was deteriorating?
They seem to think that anyone they elect will look out
for the interests of those who elected them. That simply
is never the case. Similarly, the comparison of a
Michigan education to those of other states as well as
foreign districts has been available for decades.

Parents of today should know the quality of their
education compared to that of people they compete
with from elsewhere, and have made no significant
moves to improve the Michigan standards. In theory,
in the representative democracy we live in, the key isn't
the legislature, but the electorate, the parents who have
the power to apply political pressure if and whenever
they will. Until they do that, the best that Michigan has
to offer will, for the most part, leave for greener pastures.


Bill Vajk

Monday, September 9, 2013

What's Wrong With You People?

On Monday, 9 September 2013 I presented myself
at the Iron County Clerk's office with the intention
of reviewing the copy of the City of Iron River
charter that is on file (as required by state law) there.

Joan Luhtanen, the elected clerk, was out for the day.
Ordinarily that would not have presented a problem,
but only 2 of the three additional county employees
who form part of that office were present, and neither
of them know where/how to find the required
documents. Indeed, one of them wasn't even aware of
their presence in the office or the reason they were to
be found there.

The employment level at the clerk's office has been four
for a very long time. Iron County Doings finds that the
failure of the clerk, who is set to resign/retire at the end
of this calendar year, to cross train all her employees to
provide any and all the services that are the mission of
the clerk's office is inexcusable.

Will the county board take notice of this fact? Are all
the county offices this incompetent? Cross training of
all employees to fill in during emergencies should
always have been the norm.

Is it possible that the elected officials keep employees
in the dark because they're afraid that they might be
challenged in an election? That's awful!

The more I see, clearly, of the behavior of local politicians
the more I am convinced that unless we get some real
education in civics into this region, and it comes soon, this
local political structure is headed for a financial collapse.

Some newspaper articles I recently read about Iron
River's consolidation saving the three municipalities from
bankruptcy observed the local facts better than the
politicians in Iron County were willing to admit. But
here we are, a mere 13 years later, and draconian
measures are necessary to stave of another threat of
bankruptcy for Iron River. Crystal Falls was on the
same path till recently, and partly saved by handing
their fire department and water system over to
Crystal Falls Township.

These problems stem from poor management practices
by inept local politicians who, unfortunately, have not
learned anything from their failures. They seem to think
that any sort of reorganization will solve the problems.

Here's a free clue, ladies and gentlemen, they will not!
First you have to learn to live within your means. That
means streamlining every operation!

While we're on this subtopic, the electorate needs a
major wake up call as well. After all, they are the
clowns who actually voted these other clowns into
office, and when the public officials fail, they ask why
can't local government get more grants to patch things
up for a few more years.

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost....

So Iron County Board, why don't you have rules in
place requiring cross training of county employees
wherever possible. And then spend a little time
studying the clerk's functions with an eye to reducing
the 4 employees there the three, or perhaps two. With
all the automation that's taken place over the past few
decades, who has undertaken the responsibility that's
inherent in county board officials jobs to streamline all
county operations?

Why I'll bet a cup of coffee that nobody has ever
looked at the operations in such light.

Shame on you Joan, and shame on the board of
commissioners, that a simple request to review a
document cannot be fulfilled because an employee
was out for the day! And the county board wants
to eliminate another position and put an additional
entire department under the jurisdiction of the clerk
when the clerk is already doing an inadequate job
as matters presently stand? The county board
isn't even aware that offices they're responsible
for aren't functioning correctly? Is Iron County less
that a full service organization? Is that what it is
supposed to be, because that's what we have now!

What's wrong with you people?

Bill Vajk

Is This The Best Iron River Has To Offer?

The following memorandum is a copy of my reply to the
letter that Iron River's city manager sent out with the
water bills received by people who have their water
shut off at the curbstop. If any reader would like a copy
of the documents mentioned in the memorandum, (with
the exception of the 1876 case) please send me email
and I'll send you a copy.

==================================
Memorandum
To:        Mr. Perry Franzoi, City Manager
(Personal Service)
From:        William J. Vajk   
Date:        9 September 2013    
Ref:        413 Plum Street “Water” bill       
CC:        Carl Lind

Thank you for your letter of August 26, 2013 addressed
to “Dear Utility Customer.” It was clearly sent to me in
error as I am not now nor have I ever been a utility
customer of the City of Iron River. In fact an admission
by the city that I am not a utility customer at that address
was faxed to the Department of Treasury by your office
on July 13, 2009.

It has come to my attention that the aforementioned letter,
copy enclosed for your convenience, was only sent to
those property owners whose water was shut off at the
curbstop. Given all the circumstances attendant to the
public discussions and the letter, it is clear that the
ordinances along with the billing and collections
practices of the city in these regards are violative of all
three prongs of the test imposed by the Bolt v. City of
Lansing (1998 and 1999) case from which I have attached
a reprint of the two pages discussing those prongs. Below,
I repeat those prongs in an abbreviated form.

1) A “fee” must serve a regulatory purpose rather than a
revenue raising purpose.

2) A “user fee” must be proportionate to the necessary
costs of the service.

3) A “user fee” must be voluntary-users must be able to
refuse or limit their use of the commodity or service.

For further guidance on these matters please see Jones v.
Detroit Water Commissioners, 1876 that said, “The
price of water is left to be fixed by the board in their
discretion, and the citizens may take it or not as the price
does or does not suit them." The Jones case implicated no
permanence to the customer’s choice. In Roman days it
was customary to disconnect the service line from the
water main for non-payment. Today that is unnecessary
because a curbstop provides any necessary disruption to
services.

To add insult to injury, it is obvious that the garbage
collection aspect of the “water bill” has nothing to do
with water service, and that the newly imposed charges
for 413 Plum Street have only a revenue raising purpose
because the city has never collected any solid waste
from the property since I have owned it. I deem it
disingenuous on part of the administration that the city
knew this fact until such time as it became inconvenient
to the current scheme to raise additional revenue by any
means including illegal measures. The newly added charge
for the collection of solid waste also violates all three of
Bolt’s prongs.

Ignoring that the City of Iron River is unable to point to
any state authorization for initiating utility billings as has
been done for 413 Plum Street ever since I have owned
that property, there are a number of other reasons that
clearly demonstrate the illegality of the ordinances and
practices of the City and Iron County relevant to such
city services as this potential customer has determined to
refuse. Please note that since all such services have been
refused while I have owned the property, no contract,
implied or otherwise (see “implied-in-fact contract”, City
of Cincinnati v. U.S., 1998) has ever existed in these
regards. “…[A]n implied-in-fact contract arises when an
express offer and acceptance are missing but the parties'
conduct indicates mutual assent.” Also see Attorney
General Opinions 5167 and 7263 that relate directly to
some of these issues.

For the reasons listed above, as well as others
unstated here, I refuse to pay the invoice submitted to
me. I and will enter a more formal response to these
latest illegal actions by the City of Iron River in terms of
additional counts to the pending lawsuits that presently
remain in work.

For your amusement, while pertinent, I have included
a copy of an email generated on 11 May 2012 by your
predecessor. In the final paragraph, Archocosky
discriminates between “0 pay” and “not paid” clearly
demonstrating that he, therefore the City of Iron River,
understood the value of zero and “shut off at the
curbstop” in the conventional sense that the city, in
its ordinances, has chosen to ignore where it comes
to municipal utilities.

This letter is provided to formalize, once again, my
position on the illegal charges imposed by the City
of Iron River and to afford the city council the
opportunity to take corrective measures prior to
lawsuit. The time available, however, is short. I
understand that their reticence to obeying established
state laws, court precedent, and constitution that are
inconvenient to city council members will doubtless
prevail until the courts insist otherwise. I dare say such
attitude is ignorant, arrogant, and obstinate to say nothing
of plain stupid. Is this really the best that Iron River has to
offer?

====================================
Bill Vajk

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Inconvenient Variable

In every field of study and discussion, the "variable"
has an important place. When it comes to politics, the
most crucial variable has a name, "the Overton
window." Its importance has to do with what a
politician or political group can get away with and
still be re-elected. The concept that a politician's
primary reason for existing is to serve the public
falls by the wayside whenever such ideology
assumes control over the decision making process.

Whether Iron River's torturous lengthy demise is
the consequence of stupidity on the part of elected
officials or one of "what can we get away with"
becomes inconsequential at some point. The fact is
we are engaged in the total collapse and failure of a
very small city that is well on its way to complete
irrelevance. Iron River is, under all the present
circumstances, unsustainable. Within the rules
governing how municipal governments may behave,
as established by the legislature, Iron River cannot
survive.

Many variables have been hidden from the taxpayers
and citizens of Iron River for a very long time. And
there's a plethora of wrongdoing yet to be uncovered.
The following was sent to the Iron County Reporter for
publication as a letter to the editor. At the time of this
writing we have no idea whether that newspaper will
publish my contribution or not.

===================================

During the August 27th city council meeting, damage
to and closure of Blossom Street was blamed on a
failed or plugged culvert. Show me that culvert, please.
I looked and the only thing I found was a lame excuse
for failure to maintain our streets. There is no culvert
there. Go around a few corners you’ll see an identical
failure evolving on Coolidge near Cherry. There’s
another in the alleyway behind my house on Plum
Street. How many more are around the city? With
public works trucks driving all over the city every day,
why not report similar problems in writing? 

Misallocation of funds for decades, leaving no
money for maintenance, has brought us a Blossom
Street looks like an episode of the TV show “Life
After People,” perhaps 50 years after.

Cost cutting by the city should never be done at the
expense of diminishing infrastructure that the
taxpayers paid for. Come on, City Council, we
handed you a well functioning street, why can’t you
maintain it? Every property affected by a permanently
closed street, whether it is a longer altered traffic
pattern to get home, or loss of street access, should
experience an immediate reduction in property taxes
by 50% until the problem is fixed.

Blossom Street has been there for about 100 years
because it is needed. Does the city have an inventory
of failing assets in order to plan repairs or are you
simply “grant chasing” and permitting everything not
covered by a grant to fail? How many more make-
believe culverts will collapse before the recall petitions
begin to circulate?

I fear that Blossom Street is just the tip of an iceberg.

===================================

Bill Vajk

Monday, August 12, 2013

Take 2

As a followup to our article of August 4th, I wrote the
following letter to the editor of the Iron County Reporter
that fills in a few more blanks of the multifaceted problems
facing us in Iron County.


=======================================
To the editor:

Planners around the world are aware that a “cone of
possibilities” expands with time allowing for an always
better future than the past. Governments in Iron County
chop off all that positive energy with tunnel vision that
limits us to the worse possibilities. The recent changes to
the water and sewer ordinances, and their thorough
enforcement, make issues more difficult for property
owners who have their water shut off by charging them
for water and sewer as though they were consuming
water. That’s morally, ethically, and legally prohibited,
but no matter, the city council reaches into all pockets
even when their technique violates state laws and
constitution, assuring our region a lousy future. Dabecks,
Coast-to-Coast, and the bowling alley aren’t being
encouraged to succeed by this, and other, city actions.
The water bills for anyone whose water is shut off are
now scheduled to more than double. 22 non-functioning
businesses who served you well can’t afford that any
more than any average reader of this newspaper.

Councilman Sacheck said, “Our revenue is going out
of here so fast, we’re going to have to find other sources
of revenue.” Water and sewer billings are supposed to
be revenue neutral, but the city council pulled $150,000
out of water funds for other uses in 2011, so now we
have to make up for it as a new burden on the citizen.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul never works. It just kicks
the can down the road.

The real problem is population decline. Local
governments have lots of tools to counteract that
difficulty, but have chosen to punish the population
with additional burdens rather than use the available
tools to improve life for everyone. As a property owner
in the city of Iron River, I strongly protest.
=======================================

Unfortunately the published limit for letters to the editor at
the Iron County Reporter is 300 words, and once I had
a letter kicked back to me asking that I eliminate 2 words
so that that requirement was met. So I endeavor to limit
my submittals to their acceptable level.

A proper description of the complex problems, and
likely successful solutions, would fill a book.

Ultimately nothing will happen to improve the situation
unless a voluntary independent committee of influential
individuals organizes itself and takes up the project of
improving things here.

Several years ago I organized a group we called "Iron
County Boosters" and we had a few meetings, but
nothing ever came of it, because "official" opposition
manifested itself that rang the death knell for the group.
I wish future endeavors better success. There were other
failed attempts before mine, but apparently none managed
to include the necessary "influential."

The cone of  possibilities does, after all, have some
limitations. That's why it is only a cone.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, August 10, 2013

one of the better kept secrets

One of the better kept secrets is that West Iron District
Library has a Facebook page. It can be found at:


http://tinyurl.com/jvptudl

Bill Vajk

Sunday, August 4, 2013

City Council Assures Destruction

Iron River’s City Council once again reasserted their
 insistence on taking another step towards the total
destruction of their own town on July 31, 2013.
Destruction is assured by the underlying
organizational (corporate) culture of this region.
Some of the issues are discussed below.

The immediate action took place at the city council
meeting. The city council approved, for themselves,
future authority to increase water and sewer rates
without taking the issues to those affected by such
future increases for public comment. There was an
attitude taught during mining days that went, “do as
you’re told and shut up.” I've heard this from
several individuals who grew up here. You can see
the process played out simply by reading the
wording of city ordinances.

Additionally, the city council approved elimination
of a separate “readiness to serve” fee for those
whose water is shut off at the curbstop by charging
those properties that remain connected to the water
mains as though they are consuming water. At the
current rates, this means that those whose water is
shut off at the curbstop will see an immediate increase
of $1.50 per month. The sewer ordinance includes
charging anyone connected to the sewer system
$25.10 per month whether any sewerage is created
or not. This sewer charge has not been enforced in
the past but apparently will now be enforced.

The changes approved on July 31, and some of the
reasoning given for them, are published here:

http://bill-vajk.angelfire.com/130731-new_ir.pdf

But, as usual, the real reasons for the city council
doing as they have done in this instance, and on
every occasion previously, is rather different. All
political problem solving in this region is
undertaken with the idea that the solution needs
only to address the particular difficulty that finds
itself immediately in front of the decision maker as
a “simple problem.” In fact most of the decisions
have much broader implications because they are
the result of bigger issues of which the decision
makers are cognizant, but fail to relate in a
cause-effect-best_possible_solution paradigm.

The children in regions like this economically
stagnant  one are taught from before they ever start
formal schooling right on through 12th grade to solve
only the problem immediately in front of them. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_solving

The article doesn’t give easy solutions to the
problems facing this region, but rather serves as a
rather good introductory work about the inability
of local politicians to effectively problem solve.
They've taken to calling it "kicking the can down
the road" in Washington, but the idea is just as
applicable here. The sad part is that in Washington
they understand what they're doing, but haven't a
clue in Iron County.

What is essential to solving any problem is
identifying all aspects and branching inherent in
any challenges to a community. We have two
interrelated aspects to every sociopolitical
problem here in Iron County. The first is the
depletion of the population, and the second is the
problems caused by local politicians attempting to
fix those sociopolitical problems. In fact, the
organizational culture, also often called the
corporate culture (this publication has referred to
that term a number of times in the past) forces
compliance with continuing failed strategies. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_culture

Another aspect of the difficulties this creates is a
situation much like the one faced by Mexico. Those
willing to work and capable of greater achievement
than is available in their home towns emigrate to
locations where greater challenge and greater
rewards are available. In most cases that brings
them to the United States from Mexico by any
means available to them. The old saying is, “You
can’t keep a good man down.”

We have precisely that situation here in Iron
County. The capable and willing individuals
migrate away toward greater opportunity. And
what does that leave us with? What/who stays
here to run local governments? Certainly those
who are the most brilliant staying behind find
successful economic niches, with entrepreneurial
risks and rewards, to occupy them. Gasperini
Landscape Services provides us with one
excellent example of that outcome.

They generally don’t attend to the local politics.
Those who run for office don’t have the vision
necessary to identify sociopolitical problems in
meaningful ways. In the 1980-85 timeframe,
with the mines having closed and the exodus
well under way, the local political leaders
participated in what can best be described as a
cargo cult mentality. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_science

In the meantime, they allowed the indigenous
population that formed the economic underbelly
of the community, to escape to better
opportunities elsewhere instead of seeing to it
that those opportunities found a home here.

It is just that simple.

And, naturally, successive generations of
political “leaders” have all been cut from the
same cloth. When I offered the first tier of a
solution process about increasing local tourism
to someone who had asked specifically for one,
their first reply was, “but that requires the
cutting of trees on the south side of US2
county property and I think that’s such a
pretty site….” And this came from a formerly
economically successful transplant
(now in retirement) to our region. So now they
live here, and when in Rome (Iron County) will
do as the locals do, breaking away from their
formerly successful ways. I do wish you had
introduced successful ideologies into Iron
County instead of "fitting in" with the locals
and embracing their economic failures. Please
don't talk to me of past successes when today
you're a failure indistinguishable from the rest.
 
The second and third sentences in the wikipedia
article on organizational culture say, “Culture
includes the organization values, visions, norms,
working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and
habits. It is also the pattern of such collective
behaviors and assumptions that are taught to
new organizational members as a way of perceiving,
and even thinking and feeling.” That’s precisely
what happened with the solution I offered. It fell
on ears deafened hell bent on adhering to the
local, and it is important to add failed, culture. Just
as it was in declining Rome, the local gentry all
flock to the entertainments provided under the
auspices of local government, from "Holiday in
Lights" to "Rum Rebellion Days" and the monthly
open mike night, because there is nothing else
here to seize their attentions. One such person
recently told me how lucky we are to have a
radio station as well as a newspaper in Iron River.

We’re in a county full of trees, but we’re not in
a county of unlimited locations lending themselves
so nicely to economic advance, the most rare
commodity in Iron County, but no matter, a
successful economy is not desired in Iron County.
It must not be, because they're so successful at
that!

In the meantime others say that tourists, “come
with $5 in their pockets and one pair of clean
underwear, and while in Iron County don’t change
either.” Once again, we witness the tunnel vision that
persists here. Have you ever been on Eagle River's
Wall Street on a summer afternoon?

The first and final answer is that in that case is that
here, in Iron County, you haven’t achieved a large
enough a tourism base. Why is it that you’ve only
managed to attract the lowest class of tourist?
Clearly not all tourists are of that ilk. Could it be
that they seek out their own level? What do you
need to do to attract the better classes? The first
tier solution I offered incorporated local advertising.
That’s also needed in regions that send tourists to
our area. When that solution was pointed out to
the Rodeo Board, it was soundly rejected because
greater achievement is not sought locally, only more
of the same level of marginal success that’s been the
norm for many decades. Besides, the purpose of
the rodeo must be just to entertain the locals, since
nobody else is invited!

So Iron River’s city council thinks they’ve solved
the problem of water and sewer bills not paying the
costs. Well it is so very obvious that they’re
oblivious to the real problem and that their solution
is only a short term one.

If we carry the problem of the population reduction
to its natural conclusion, we see that at some point
there would be one, count them 1, citizen living
within the corporate limits of Iron River. And then
the entire tax burden would have to be paid by
that one citizen. But we know that between now
and then, the entire city will become unsustainable
and will collapse. Perhaps the city council  thinks
grants will be available to maintain the entire City
of Iron River for a population of 1? Why does Iron
River keep adding new water system infrastructure
while in the throes of this downward spiral? What
sort of reducio ad absurdium will finally convince
local politicians of the error of their ways?

And then we look at some of the other things that
Iron River does, like unnecessarily fining
commercial property owners whenever things go
wrong. Give a little man a little authority and he’ll
exercise every inch of it. Two examples spring to
mind. The bowling alley burned down. Iron River
imposed nuisance fines because the results weren’t
being cleaned up quickly enough. The Coast to
Coast building sees similar treatment for a few bricks
having fallen off the facade. Like other buildings that
provided some tax revenue, they want to tear it down
providing more assurance that they’re knowingly
destroying what remains of Iron River.

Guess what else. Both of the properties are being
billed for water and will also be billed for sewer,
because the city, under its ordinance, can do that!
Who, in their right mind, would want to bring a new
business into Iron River knowing that?

And as we discussed in this publication earlier
( http://tinyurl.com/pkkntkv )  parking regulations
prevent proper use of downtown space. But that
is convenient for the city council. To heck with the
needs of the people!

In that article we also proposed, “any elected
official not bringing at least two good ideas
for improvement to a meeting every year should
be prohibited from standing for re-election.”

That idea is sounding better by the day. It might
get local politicians off this self-destructive path
for a change. Right now they’re so used to
abusing the population that they no longer
recognize that the effect of their actions isn’t
helping matters, but driving people to leave the
county, and in most cases, the state.

A Chicago area woman who grew up here has kept
and beautifully maintained her grandmother’s house
in Iron River with a view to retiring here. Even the
lawn maintenance is so pristine that there isn’t a
single weed on the property. After an entire lifetime
of coming up here for a week or two every summer
and maintaining, paying year-round water, sewer,
garbage, heating, electricity, and tax bills, she will be
putting that home, and her dream, up for sale
because local politics behaves in such an asinine
fashion. It is a beautiful older home, but it is in Iron
River. So compared to what such a property would
fetch in most other parts of the country, it has very
little economic value.

That’s not nice for the current owner. It is very nice
for anyone with a little money who wants to come
here. But who wants to come here these days?
Rational people won’t put up with the nonsense.

Is this the way things ought to be? I don’t think so.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wednesday 5:30pm IR City Hall aquatic nuisance plant species mtg


From Sara Basso

Casperson to hold a town hall meeting on 
aquatic nuisance plant species

Who:

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba; 
a representative from the Michigan 
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ); 
and General public

What:
A town hall meeting regarding aquatic 
nuisance plant species.

When:

Wednesday, July 17
6:30 EST/5:30 CST

Where:

Iron River City Hall
106 West Genesee Street
Iron River

Brief:
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, will be 
holding a town hall meeting regarding 
aquatic nuisance plant species such as 
non-native water milfoil to allow the 
general public to ask questions about 
issues including control measures. 
A representative from the Michigan DEQ 
will be speaking and available to answer 
questions.  Senator Casperson will also 
summarize Senate Bill 444, a bill he 
introduced to help streamline the DEQ 
permit process and provide more options 
for locals to control aquatic nuisance 
plant species.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Send In The Clowns

The time to make significant corrections to the politics of Iron
County is here. In fact, we are already well behind the times,
because much of the work should already have been achieved.
Unfortunately we don’t appear to have the visionaries capable
of undertaking the task, so it is possible that the only recourse
remaining is the state. The reader sentiments that follow appear
to be pretty much universal for this region, and we think the
reasons in the analysis that follows do a good job of explaining
it.

Some time back a citizen of the Iron County Community took it
on themselves to be critical of this publication because, “Just
curious Bill, If you are so unhappy with Iron County and it's
"Doings". Why do you choose to live in this community? Your
negativity tarnishes the joy that those of us who appreciate Iron
County feel. Remember the old adage, 'If you have nothing nice
to say..... If you are not part of the solution you are part of the
problem. I'll be looking for my opinion to be added to your blog.”

As originator of this publication, I appreciate the sentiment and
the person stating it because it is one more “finger on the pulse”
of the community. There is no right or wrong to deciding what to
publish since we’re all concerned about how local governments
act, why they act that way, and the reaction of the community.
As I’ve written in the past, here and elsewhere, the other
regional publications do an adequate job of presenting positive
images, and in the end, that’s an unstated subtopic of this article.

After I commented, the same person came back and wrote,
“….I am simply a citizen of Iron County who appreciates the
beauty of the area, and all of the wonderful people who make
this a special place to live. I have no political agenda. My point
was, I spent half an hour browsing this blog and found not one
positive thing said about this community. In that half an hour, I
read derogatory posts about the Judge, the school system, the
city manager, the hospital, and the dog catcher to name a small
few. And yes even the way this county celebrates Christmas! I
can agree that change is needed in our county as it is everywhere,
but a negative blog such as this is in no way proactive towards
that goal.”

In 1973, Stephen Soundheim wrote a ballad called “Send In
The Clowns,” which, while about human relationships in the most
intimate context, translates equally well to the overall conditions
in Iron County. The background of the song has to do with when
a show isn’t going well, distract the audience and make them
happy by sending in the clowns. That’s precisely what has been
going on here in Iron County or rather a long time now, to the
point that the local population, as demonstrated in the two
communications above, has a skewed perspective. The locals
have mostly stopped looking beyond the immediate rewards
they receive whenever complaining, while they’ve concurrently
learned to ignore the fact that the underlying problem, the cause
of their complaint, has not been addressed—again!

Richard Bach, in one of his erudite (some of the local anti-
intellectuals consider that a dirty word) books, wrote, “There
is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.
We seek out the problems because we need their gifts.”

Please note that the first “complaint” above wants to make the
community out to be a place where everyone in the community
feels nothing but joy.

After some small amount of interaction, the same person
complained that the approach that this publication has been
taking isn’t “proactive.” Excuse me? What is it you want then?
Head in the sand, or should we “send in the clowns” yet again?
There’s the crux of all the local issues, and the ineffective
“solutions” that local politicians around the world have been
using for centuries. Alas, it isn’t unique to Iron County, it’s just
that here the local citizenry has bought into the “rewards”
aspect more thoroughly than elsewhere.

When I lived in the south, every time that local minority leadership
started to cause the politicos any problems at all, they were bought
off, usually with a new school bus or some other meaningless
concession. In Chicago, more like the old south than they like to
admit, mayor Richard J. Daley threw things like new buses and
elevated system rolling stock into the fray to make problems go
away temporarily without fixing anything. And so too birth was
given to “Community Concepts,” an entity that met (does it still)
regularly with an agenda to create an event for every month here
in Iron County, Michigan. Perhaps they thought 12 annual rewards
might shut people up permanently?

The first was the “Christmas in Lights” parade with the name
changed by one of our influential secular progressives in the second
and subsequent years. That was followed in short order by the “Rum
Rebellion” that is a celebration of Iron County lawlessness. And with
that, the “send in the clowns” approach by “Community Concepts”
(an organization with no legal existence, BTW) appears to have
ended. Still, a “Disk Golf” course was added at public expense. It
was poorly planned and part of the course is a victim of a subsidence.
Then too, cash was permanently transferred more than once out of
the Iron County Economic Development Corporation’s revolving
loan fund to get a modern sawmill up and running, and to keep it
operating, with no new jobs created in our region.

So where’s the real economic advantage to the public from any
of these, Aren’t they merely all “clown” antics? Here’s one stanza
of Soundheim’s famous song:

“Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want...
Sorry, my dear!
And where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don't bother, they're here.”

As a child, it goes something like this:

Child-“Dad, I want a pony so I can learn to ride because
that’s my future livelihood.”

Dad-“I can’t afford a pony or the feed and other upkeep.
Here’s a nickel, go see a movie.”

Yes, the immediate gratification reward is much cheaper and it
usually side tracks the request. “I thought that you'd want what
I want...” is any unrequited love or desire, whether for a person
of a thing. We’ve become accustomed to accepting substitutions.
That example is well suited to so many, much more serious,
occasions.

As an example, the reason that minorities in this country started
being successful in their drive for equality was simple enough.
A new generation of leadership refused to accept the substitute
cheap immediate gratification; they ignored the clowns. They
were polite. When the clown act was over, they asked, “Now
where’s that pony?” And they kept it up until, sure enough, a
pony was produced. And then another, and another….

The author of the feedback I published above has spent a
lifetime, along with the rest of this community, being thrilled by
the clowns. The objective of this article, and this publication,  is
to encourage the local populace to put their foot down and
demand, “Now where’s that pony?” Please start insisting that
your demands of government are met. Please start today.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Should Carl Lind be recalled?

Should Carl Lind be recalled for failing to serve as he 
promised?

I sent the following by email to Carl Lind, the 
chairman of the Iron County Board and therefore the 
individual designated by the FOIA statute as the 
individual in charge of FOIA appeals.

====================================
*FOIA Appeal*
3 June 2013

Mr. Carl Lind
Crystal Falls  MI  49920

Dear Mr. Lind:

This appeal covers the reply by the Iron County 

FOIA Coordinator to issue #2 in my FOIA request 
dated 11 May 2013 and answered 16 May 2013 as 
follows:

2) MCL 234(3) requires, in part, that Iron County 

"a public body shall establish and publish procedures 
and guidelines to implement this subsection." I wish 
to review that published "procedures and guidelines" 
document.

Although the cover letter in reply to my request 

states, "Your request is granted" the actual 
response (all documents pertinent to this appeal are 
attached) is a simple evasion. The consequence is 
a de facto failure to reply that, as spelled out in the 
FOIA statutes, provides this window for the formal 
appeal you are presently reading.

This appeal asks you for a complete and legitimate 

answer to my MCL 15.234(3) relevant request as 
stated above. Any failure to provide a copy of the 
"procedures and guidelines" requested for review 
will be taken by the undersigned as a knowing 
violation by Iron County of state statutes. In that 
event, the only available understanding will be 
that either statutes are being violated by failing to 
publish the documents as required under state law, 
or that Iron County published them and is 
withholding them from public view in an attempt to 
conceal knowing violations of the statutes as well as 
your own published procedures and guidelines. Or 
perhaps all the violative elements above.

Ultimately the questions resolve to a decision 

whether Iron County is so married to what gives 
the appearance of corrupt practices relevant to 
financial matters that the county board will require 
court proceedings to resolve the issues. The fact 
that you have what amounts to a new county board 
affords you a window to correct past bad practices 
that I have lately called to your attention. You would 
be surprised how much easier it is to voluntarily 
come into compliance with state laws than it is to 
embrace the bad practices handed to all of us by 
past boards. Settlement of financial issues is always 
better, and far less expensive, for all parties than 
involving the judicial department of government in 
matters such as are before us.

I wish all of us, Iron County government, and the 

public you work for, the best.

===================================

Only parts of the reply, received 29 May 2013 
through the US Postal Service, are repeated below. 
Although the entire reply from Mr. Lind is 
objectionable to any thinking citizen, we are not 
prepared to write a textbook on the matter of 
misconduct as it relates to the Freedom of 
Information Act,

Lind's Reply includes: You have suggested that the 
County of Iron needs to 'publish procedures and 
guidelines' to comport with the requirements of 
the statute.”

In a word, NO! I made no suggestions, I quoted the 
state statute. Mr. Lind has a severe reading and 
comprehension problem. Can such an individual be 
qualified to be Chairman of the Iron County Board 
of Commissioner? They certainly shouldn't be.

Then Lind goes completely berserk with his next 
sentence,

The requirements of the statute can not be 
modified by the County of Iron.”

What substance have you been imbibing, sir? There 
is no logical conclusion resulting from my request(s) 
that can possibly lead any sane, or as usually stated in 
case law, prudent man, to bring such ideas into the 
discussion. In fact, this is a classical “straw man” 
style of argument. Lind makes up a story, loosely 
attributes it to the FOIA appeal, and then proceeds, 
very ineptly, to answer it.

Lind continues: “In Tallman v Cheboygan Area 
Schools, 183 Mich App 123; 454 NW2d 171 (1990) 
the court clearly stated that "The Legislature 
specifically mandated the method of charging a 

fee, . . .

Since you've gotten to the point of actually citing a 
case in the Michigan court, did you actually read the 
case and understand it? Here's the gravamen of that 
verdict as it applies here:

A public body is not at liberty to simply "choose" 
how much it will charge for records. To permit such 
action would effectively allow the public body to 
override the directive of the Legislature.”

Yet this is precisely on point and one of the issues I 
have earlier argued. I wrote about this problem, and 
how Iron County violated state statute precisely as 
the Court in Tallman held, and violates it still, along 
with the judicial finding in the case you cited. See 
 http://tinyurl.com/k6b7s35 that I published on 
June 2, 2013.

We should be done with Mr. Lind at this juncture, 
but alas there are a few more topics that must be 
addressed in order to complete this task. The nuns 
that provided my grammar school education drilled 
into me, “Any job worth doing is worth doing well!” 
I believed them then and I hold fast to that sentiment 
today. Would that Mr. Lind experienced his 
education at the hands of those same nuns. We 
would all be better off for it.

Lind replied: “In light of the fact that all existing 
public records requested from the County of Iron 
have been provided to you, your appeal is denied. 
The County of Iron has already provided the '... full 
and complete information . . . contained in the 
public records' that were requested.”

Given these circumstances I'd have expected no less 
of the Chairman of the Iron County Board, believe 
me. Not a single public record that I requested has 
ever been provided. Lind relies on an unstated claim 
by the county that there are no records, with Iron 
County thereby violating state law, while stating he
has provided your humble correspondent with all 
the available documents. The claim that the 
requested documents do not exist is designed to 
conceal numerous other violations of state laws.

Here's the rub. Government workers do not 
function at all without official guidelines and 
procedures. That's precisely why the legislature 
incorporated the requirement for a published 
guideline into statute. But if those guidelines 
and procedures are provided, as they are 
required by law to be provided upon request, 
they must include the State of Michigan 
instructions on how to determine the cost of 
copies, another section of the law that Lind, 
and Iron County, both knowingly violate.

As we were growing up, most of us encountered 
the wisdom about lying that once you tell one, they 
just keep growing, one atop the other in order to 
keep covering up the original lie along with all the 
other lies that grew out of it. (Sometimes we, the 
observers, say nothing, when the lies are 
inconsequential.) That's likely what I have 
encountered, and will continue to uncover as I 
pursue this Iron County FOIA sequence of what 
appears to be lies piled atop lies.

This current series of FOIA requests has become 
the newer version of the Tom King saga wherein 
Iron County violated the laws of the state at every 
turn while feigning having complied. It seems that 
even with changes in elected officials, Iron 
County has retained these lousy stripes. That's 
merely another example that the corporate culture 
has not changed. Indeed, Peter's Principle (which 
see) has played its nasty role.

But we saved the greatest baloney (the descriptive 
plays well in prime time version of an expression of 
disdain) for last.

Lind wrote: “It should be noted that future county 
budgets are likely to be posted on the County of 
Iron website for direct viewing by anyone interested 
to do so.”

Really, Mr. Lind? Are you going to post all 114 
pages, and perhaps more? Or will you post truly 
obsolete information similar to this: 

http://www.ironcountymcf.com/manor.htm

It seems that everyone but Iron County officialdom
already knows that Crystal Manor has not been a 
county-owned nursing home for a very long time, 
and that it has not only passed to private ownership 
but has been re-purposed as rental housing. Iron 
County is well known for incompetence with 
managing internet web pages. And that's why, 
years later, the public continues to pay for the
county's internet publication of misinformation.

The crux of the important issue was clearly stated 
by the judge writing the opinion in the Tallman Case:

     “We acknowledge that the amount in dispute in 
     this lawsuit is economically insubstantial. 
     Nevertheless, the public policy of this state 
     entitling the public to be informed is clear and the
     legislative procedure to accomplish the public 
     policy must be observed.”

A quick estimate of the “income” generated for Iron 
County through their misapplication of FOIA “fees” 
in violation of statute, holds that in the realm of 
county government, even giving away the documents 
to all comers wouldn't amount to a teacup full of 
water being tossed into Lake Superior. The original 
Michigan Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 
1977, well over 3 decades ago. The the state legislature 
has modified it a number of times and there are two 
bills presently in the works to simplify it even further. 
That also means there's better than a 30 year judicial 
history, and numerous state issued booklets, Attorney 
General Opinions, as well as municipal guidance 
organizational booklets available affording guidance 
about compliance with the FOIA laws. But Mr. Lind 
still can't get it right despite all this assistance available
to him. 

Doesn't County Government have enough to keep 
elected officials busy with significant issues? Out of 
the difficulties the county owned nursing home has 
been having regarding the purchase of necessary 
drugs for the patients grew my idea that Iron County 
should establish its own pharmacy. Then the impact 
of this FOIA nonsense got in the way of my 
spreading the word. But why should the county have 
to rely on me in the first place? Isn't that why we 
have elected officials and paid advisers?

Another input brought to light that County Health 
Departments are already licensed to dispense drugs, 
so the natural entity would be our health department. 
But “our” health department is combined with 
Dickinson County. So the entity that could be 
created could serve all government employees in 
both counties as well as the nursing home as a non-
profit pharmacy, thereby saving taxpayers in both 
counties substantial money. You'd think that this 
concept, already introduced to the county, would 
be the sort of thing elected officials would grab and 
run with, instead of carrying on and wasting their 
time playing stupid insane games about FOIA fees.

I also approached county officials with an idea (the 
result of a question raised in response to my article 
about Crivitz) on how to get US2 through traffic 
stopped in Iron County long enough to get to know 
us, hopefully (because we're attractive enough) to 
participate in our economy. I concurrently resolved,
in the best possible way, the placement of a 
substantial future county airport.

If we're not attractive enough, why aren't you
working to fix that? For example, why hasn't the
county, along with the City of Iron River, applied
to the legislators to allow the beautification of the
Iron River as it passes through town?


There you have 2 major self-supporting projects 
that would actually help the county and its citizens 
that were presented, and the ball simply dropped 
because our elected officials are hell bent on 
getting 30 cents a page for FOIA results.And I've
only scratched the surface on the possibilities for
our region! 

Given that the demands placed directly on the 
Iron County Board by the State of Michigan as 
regards interaction with the public are very few 
and very easy to obey, the fact that Iron County, 
by and through Carl Lind not only fail, but 
arrogantly refuse, to abide by those requirements 
leads us, as viewers of governmental bad conduct, 
to wonder whether this is the consequence of 
incompetence or insanity.

Frankly my first (and continuing) personal 
reaction to having read Lind's letter was one of,

“Are you insane?”

And I promptly realized I had stated the question 
aloud. I still don't know for sure what the answer is. 
And the entire incident possibly doesn't seem very 
important to most readers, until you consider that if 
Carl Lind is incapable of executing the easiest tasks 
of his office as required, what is he doing with the 
more complex ones? He was, after all, a city 
councilman for Crystal Falls while the seeds of 
financial failure were being sowed for that city. The
essential question now is, can he foresee the 
directions in which he is presently "leading" Iron
County?

The fact that the county has dropped the ball on 
both the pharmacy and increasing tourism projects 
yields to the natural conclusion that Carl Lind keeps 
tripping over dollar bills in order to pick up pennies. 
Is that the government you want? Really?

Who is watching?

Who is reporting?

We recently published an article about other trusted 
county employees routinely sneaking out of the office 
on Friday afternoons. They need ongoing supervision, 
as does Carl Lind in his position of County 
Commissioner. But that should not be necessary at 
this level for an elected official. Under those 
circumstances we have to say that it is your humble 
correspondent's opinion that since Mr. Lind cannot 
comply with the essentials of his office in this simple 
matter then he's categorically unqualified to hold the 
position he occupies.

So should Carl Lind be recalled? That's up to the 
voters. But it is the opinion of your humble 
correspondent that if Carl Lind is an honest and 
honorable man. he should resign immediately to 
make way for someone who knows how to 
prioritize what's important and what is “insane” 
behavior by the county board and those who 
advise them. 

There's a lot to achieve here in Iron County, but
we have (probably more than one) public officials
hell bent on power plays instead of real progress.

Can we get rid of them?
 
Bill Vajk

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