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

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"

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."


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

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