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


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

A town hall meeting regarding aquatic 
nuisance plant species.


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


Iron River City Hall
106 West Genesee Street
Iron River

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

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,

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 

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 

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.


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 

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 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:

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

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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