Thursday, June 27, 2013

Taxpayer's Association

I received the following email today and spoke with Al Gregg
about publishing his sentiments. The Taxpayer's Association is
an entity that should be more active than it has been in recent
years. I hope someone will volunteer to take it over.


Mr. Vajk, 
Many years ago I pointed out to townships, citys, 
and county boards  that this area was going down the 
The behavior of certain people was the reason.
The very first things I noticed was the deterioration 
of the entire area. Roads, Houses, Business's, 
Employment, Schools, Taxes, The cost of all local 
I was not alone in these beliefs. 
I jumped at the chance to help organize "The Iron 
County Taxpayers Assoc". I had a great opportunity 
to meet many people that also believed many things 
were wrong with Iron County. 
After many years of meetings,one day I looked 
around and found myself alone. Through the years 
I had found many direct confrontations,and many 
personal threats. Being from the South Side Of 
Chicago, none of this mattered to me.
There were some success's that helped our 
Community. But many efforts were also losses,
because of the disinterest of the People.
Your last posting mentioned holding a meeting.
I am still in possession of all the paper work 
and finances of the Taxpayers Assoc, which 
is registered at the Iron County Courthouse.
I would very much LIKE a Concerned Citizen 
from Iron County, to takeover this Association.
I would be willing to help with the startup all 
I can. 
If in your travels thru Iron County, you meet 
someone that would be interested, please let 
me know.

Thanks for your time,
    Al Gregg

Please contact Mr. Gregg or this publication if you are interested
in improving the situations in Iron County.

Bill Vajk

Is This What We Want? Really?

The fact that municipalities are the creation of the state and
the responsibility thereof is most succinctly stated in “Dillon’s
Rule.” The authority to create has, built in, the responsibility
for municipalities. This fact is proved by the example of the
state taking over the fiscally failed City of Detroit and running
it. But the fact that municipalities are unsupervised to the extent
that they can actually fail also demonstrates that the State of
Michigan doesn’t take that responsibility seriously until it is too
late. Crystal Falls is a local example of a city headed in that
direction, as well as the recent redirection of the City of Iron
River through the budgetary intervention of the new City

The other shortcoming of the current scheme of “state control”
is the fact that as presently framed, audits fail to clearly show
a municipal government that’s headed for disaster.

With these facts as a backdrop, Iron County Doings decided to
take a look at the population of Iron County vis a vis the number
of municipalities in Iron County and the number of public officials
running things locally.

Pop    Officials    Municipality

 921            21    Bates Township
1743           17    Crystal Falls Township
  338           15    Hematite Township
1027           14    Iron River Township
  241           17    Mansfield Township
  656           18    Mastodon Township
1140           18    Stambaugh Township
  906           14    City of Caspian
1469           13    City of Crystal Falls
  347           14    City of Gaastra
3029           26    City of Iron River
  219             8    Village of Alpha

So we have a (county provided number) population of 12036
with 195 public officials at the township/village/city aspect. It is
too difficult, for the purposes of this simple exposition of a
significant problem, to determine all the additional Iron County
officials and DDA board members. And I haven’t even included
things like redundant school boards, redundant airports, libraries,
and the Windsor Center, that add to our tax burden.

Just with those listed above, there is a public official for every
62 people (includes men, women, and children) in the
township/city/village type municipalities. I’d wager a good cup
of coffee that by the time we add in all the other officials absent
from the census above we can expect that in reality there is
presently a public official for every 50 residents, or fewer, in Iron
County, Michigan.

That’s ridiculous!

The State of Michigan estimates the total population of Iron
County at 11,633 for the year 2009, the most recent data
available on the internet. 2,383 of those are under age 20, or
roughly 1/5th of the total population. Looking a bit further,
there are 751 in the age 15 through 19 class, but only 490 in the
age 0 through 4 class, indicating a significant predictable decline
in the overall population in the next 20 years. The greatest
number of people fall into the age 55 through 59 bracket,
comprising roughly 1038 individuals.

We have a total of 2383 children, that is individuals between
age 0 and age 19. I didn’t chose the age bracketing for the state
numbers, I’d have broken it into three year brackets, but we
have what we have.

But, if these trends continue as they appear in the population
estimates at the moment, the total population of Iron County 50
years from now will be well less than half the present number,
conservatively about 47%, in all probability the population
decline will be even worse. Assuming no change to the political
structure if Iron County, township/village/city officials will be
1 for every 28 residents.

And here I thought the present day circumstance absurd enough,
but look at the future we’re planning for our descendents, not
to mention the unnecessarily wasteful price we’re paying right

I had urged Iron River Township to abandon the use of the
Township Hall and to rent those existing available facilities
conducive to conducting the business of the township. In the
long haul it would be much cheaper than what is presently
planned. Good grief, we’re only talking about a total of 1027
residents today, and less than half that in 50 years! Why on
earth is the township board investing increasingly difficult to
come by tax dollars in hardly used infrastructure? Can’t the
township board think of better places to spend those tax dollars?
I sure can, as can most of the township’s population! Iron River
Township doesn’t need regular meetings at this point, we badly
need a series of old fashioned New England style Town Hall
meetings with elected officials listening to and acting on the
recommendations they receive.

In the early 1980’s, when I first became interested in Iron County
and bought property here, the major topic of discussion was that
the furnace in Township Hall had a cracked heat exchanger, and
one, or some, members of the then township board wanted to
find someone to weld the heat exchanger because the township
didn’t have the money to buy a new furnace. It seems the more
things change, the more they stay the same. Is Iron River Township
Hall something the residents are proud of? It was built during days
when energy was so cheap it made no economic sense to provide
good insulation. It is inefficient and has absolutely no redeeming
architectural value. The basement, with a single exit, is a death trap
waiting to happen. It is unfit for human occupancy under any
circumstances, even for the servicing of the heating equipment.

Here’s a dose of much needed reality. None of the public officials in
Iron County have looked beyond the end of their nose. Each sees
favorite projects they would like to see achieved during their
typically one to three terms in office. But so far, not a single one
has looked at the big picture of where this county, and its population,
is heading. The population is declining at an alarming rate, a rate
that’s bound to increase because there are natural thresholds that,
once exceeded, trigger additional population decline. And we’re
headed in that direction.

Not a single local official has considered that we have far too
many municipalities, and far too many public officials, in Iron
County, Michigan. For a total population of 11633 (or less) we
don’t need more than one, count them 1, municipal government
to service all the needs of such a small population. Just like for
2383 children total in Iron County today, headed to be roughly
½ in less than 20 years, we don’t need any more than one, count
them 1, school district. And we certainly didn’t need the grant
money “improvements” in the Forest Park school district that we
recently implemented. That money, at least the parts to make life
more pleasant for the janitorial staff who are already well paid,
could have been much better spent, perhaps on more civics
education that’s an improvement very clearly needed in Iron
County. Perhaps the elected officials could attend an adult
education version of such classes. But wait, we have no adult
education locally because the money is being wasted.

What is this insanity anyway? Just because all these 13
municipalities in Iron County today, multiple libraries, a road
commission, and multiple school districts, were organized when
Iron County was economically expanding doesn’t mean we
need to be saddled with the no longer possible dreams of
growth from the last century and pay through the nose for
services and infrastructure we don’t need! There are things
we do need. Things like reasonable roads, and sufficient
economic growth to sustain the existing population before we
become another Appalachia. We need transportation services
for our aging population. The needs list is nearly endless, with
a zero response.

What we need badly, and very quickly, is a county wide master
plan to reorganize the political structure in this county. Surely the
greedy among the politicos will resist such a change because too
few positions of power will be easily available to them. It seems
to me that if they invested their time into economic growth
initiatives instead of local politics, they would achieve even
greater clout in the community than they presently experience.

So do we do continue as we are, wasting tax monies? Or do we
bite down on the hardest job of all, and reorganize Iron County as
a model of efficiency and service to the people who live here?
Freeing up the money presently wasted on too many municipalities
and public officials could make life in Iron County much better for
everyone living here.

Bill Vajk

Monday, June 17, 2013

Local Implications of a National Policy

In the early 1990’s, Glen Roberts and I worked on a
series of articles describing the federal government’s
insistence that they be given the digital encryption
schemes then being developed by various telephone
equipment manufacturers for all equipment under
development. The government insisted that one end of
any conversation they intended to listen in on had a
participant outside the United States. That was their
story then and apparently they’re still sticking to it.

This, coupled with the federal courts deciding that a
“pen recorder” could be installed on a phone line
without a warrant authorized by a judge, smelled
significantly of Big Brotherism six years and more after
that predicted by George Orwell. A pen recorder
originally simply indicated the pulses that the old rotary
dialing used as the standard telephony signaling mechanism
to mechanical switches to connect the dialing party to the
intended destination. Over time, with technological
advances, the form of the equipment changed.

But soon enough even that wasn’t enough. The equipment
of the 90’s could only determine an outgoing destination.
Without a warrant, the government could not determine the
phone number that had placed any calls being received. But
the government agencies that had (and have) an interest in
certain conversations were slowly but surely making
headway towards unsupervised interception of telephone
conversations. And today they apparently have unfettered
access to not only phone conversations, but all electronic

Ducking "below the radar" didn't, in the end, help binLaden
at all. It did buy him time, though. It took a lot longer to
find him because what became necessary to the scheme
was to find weakness in the social networks surrounding
him. It took an extra 5 to 8 years to dispatch that enemy
of our own creation, an error the US is likely to repeat in

As the reward for our loss of much of what we have
historically considered privacy, we can only hope that the
Boston Bombing was the last of such conspiracies. It now
seems as though the only successful conspiracies in the future
will be those that the government itself organizes and

It seems as though shortly “the underground” that traditionally
pines for freedom will be reverting to mechanical typewriters
and “news” flyers secretively passed around. Even under such
circumstances, we could eventually look to the Ceausescu
paradigms of registering typewriters and typeface produced
here in the United States, once again in the name of freedom.
That term has begun to lose its original meaning.

Ultimately the question could become, which form of law do
you prefer, sectarian totalitarianism or Sharia? Believe it or not,
here in Iron County at least, some portions of sectarian
totalitarianism already exists because elected officials ignore the
laws given them to operate under. And the State of Michigan
chooses to ignore it. Given that, how far behind can crushing all
dissent be? I recently saw it being done by Iron County to a
resident. If anyone is interested, details can be provided in an
open meeting setting.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Iron County Finance Committee over rules the State of Michigan!

Where will it end? The following was sent in email today to
Carl Lind, the chairman of the Iron County Board. I await
his reply. I have to add, here, that I've bent over backwards
to reach some rational solutions before hailing the county into
court again. 

The other part of my FOIA request asked to see
documentation supporting that Iron County's incremental
cost for making copies is $0.30 for each copy while regional
businesses are reporting their to be less than 1 cent. It turns
out there is no documentation (could that be because it would
prove the less than $0.01 actual cost to Iron County?). But
what was provided was the minutes to the January 1, 2010
Finance Committee meeting during which that finance
committee over ruled the State of Michigan by establishing
a per copy rate of $0.30 each, well above that which is
allowed by state law.

Yes, you read that right, Iron County has over ruled the
State of Michigan, and it appears that people who swore an
oath to uphold the constitution and the laws are willingly and
wantonly violating those laws.

Did we vote them into office to harm us? That's precisely
what they are doing.


FOIA Appeal

Mr. Carl Lind
XXX Lincoln Avenue           
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” 

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.



The ball, for a very short time, is theirs to deal with.

Bill Vajk

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