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

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:

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


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

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