Monday, January 13, 2014

Moving Right Along...

In my travels, and having lived and worked in different places,
one of the things I became acutely aware of is the difference
in some of the local cultures here in the USA. For example,
business in the NYC region relies heavily on social networks
where it comes to making agreements and generally doing
business with one another. The exception, that’s to be
expected, was in aerospace/defense where many suppliers
and the customer weren't part of the region, socially or
economically, in which the manufacturer functioned. To be
sure, all the people who worked there, from the CEO or local
equivalent, down to the guy who swept the parking lot, were
all part of the local social structure. But once at work, from a
business standpoint, local considerations didn't make it past the
front door.

I found Chicago to be very open and accepting. If anyone is
starting a new business, make sure your customers are either in
Chicago or some other region that’s similarly open to new
business relationships. And that’s the crux of the matter
explaining the failure of midwestern transplants to the New York
region. I saw many of them come and go when I lived at
Princeton. Typically they would last about a year, then they went
home. I don’t think they caught on to the way business is done in
the NY area. The few I talked to in what might be considered an
“exit survey” had no idea why they failed, but in the end, the
reason was that they didn't manage to break into the right social
circles in time to make a difference in their business strategies.
Migration to the west coast, on the other hand, proved a great
advantage to most transplants from the midwest. On the west
coast, midwesterners are the “go-getters.” Having heard plenty
on the topic from a  daughter and son-in-law in California
extended my knowledge base on this issue.

Because we have such a small population here in Iron County, a
set of circumstances similar to the NYC region exists here. If
you’re not enjoyed by the “in crowd” (and there’s only one here
in Iron County) you might as well whistle Dixie and look for
friendships wherever it is you go as a snowbird, you’re not
finding any meaningful socialization here.

Now that might sound as though I’m jealous or have hurt feelings.
Let me assure all readers that isn't the case at all. I have friends
up and down the east coast where I worked for decades, as well
as in the Chicago region, some overseas, and a few locally too. I
don’t need the local snobs in my life. My mother volunteered in
her community in her day, and found that the lasting friendships
were few and far between while some accused her of “social
climbing” at their expense. Now that, my friends, was jealousy
and hurt feelings arising out of their own failures to progress as
well as the best of them were able to. I am fortunate to be a
whole lot more  pragmatic than that and my world is a lot larger
than that of the majority of the local population. On the other
hand, there’s nothing wrong with living in a smaller world if
that’s what’s available to you and that’s what you want.

Moving right along, what this region needs badly is someone
somewhat like me, probably a lot better at business than I ever
was, who doesn't want to get caught up in/with local social
considerations, and is a lot younger than I am. Hire that
someone, and let that person or group run with their visions for
progress and the financial success of this county and region.
And for heavens sakes, don’t get this sort of initiative get
mixed up with adjoining counties, or we’ll end up with the short
straw again.

Sit down with that person and decide on a set of parameters
that are in stone. Which do we need, a railroad spur or a locally
based trucking company that can haul local products to a nearby
railway spur and load trains. Given the infrastructure we presently
have, including availability of utilities, roads, proximity to
railheads, and any other important considerations too numerous
to list here, where would the proposed heavy or light
manufacturing complex be best placed? Then let them run with
their mission. Don’t forget that we’re competing with New York
State that offers 10 years with no taxes for new businesses.

But I can hear the clique clamoring already, “I have this piece of

Forget it! The decision must be made by the individual we
(that’s right, all of us is “we”) hire for this position without
any consideration other than what’s best for all of us. And
that is going to be the problem with every decision, and that
impoverished mindset contributes heavily to the depressed
economy we live in today. Heaven forbid someone in the
clique get ahead while others, similarly situated, tread water.

Join me, come stand in God’s sunshine for a while, you’ll feel
better. And then realize that even someone else’s gain opens
new opportunities for you! They’re done, and you’re just

Well you now have the gist of what my current letter to the
editor intended for publication in this week’s Reporter is
about, above and beyond what I was able to provide in the
300 allotted words. Whether or not it ends up in the paper,
you were able to read it all here, so you have an advantage
already that’s denied to the others.

Letter to the editor follows:


The hospital is being taken over by Aspirus after losing about
$1.2 million in 2012. The clique that runs Iron County has
failed to run the hospital efficiently. While that group contains
most successful people in the county, their management and
entrepreneurial skill set is size-limited to the small businesses
they run well. Needless to say, it’s a subset of the same clique
that’s similarly run the EDC for decades.

Yes, we've had outsiders move into Iron County and
become part of that group. But they've done so at the
expense of abandoning the principles of success they
learned elsewhere in exchange for local social

The hospital is being taken over by a group that has no
apparent intention of becoming similarly localized. They
will eventually get our hospital back to supporting itself.
So the lesson is that if we are to get this county
economically viable again, we need to bring in people
with the necessary skills and give them a free hand to
achieve the sort of success this region had in earlier

How can we achieve that given a non-existent budget?

1) Combine school districts, saving at least $ half-million
annually. Plow that money back into courses teaching
manufacturing skills beginning with welding, the most
needed trade in this region today. 2) Eliminate all
redundant municipalities, saving $1 to $2 million (or
more) annually, and spend that on hiring people who
can get industries to move here, assuring employment
and the economic growth that’s needed.

Of course nothing will happen if the single-issue
folks remain couch potatoes instead of holding our
elected officials’ feet to the fire every month at
meetings. Giving the EDC “another year” to waste
time and money is a well practiced decision to
procrastinate yet again.

Bill Vajk

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Citizens Have No Voice In Michigan State Government

It is no wonder that citizens in Michigan don't assert
their rights more often. Governments in Michigan,
including the state, turn a blind eye to anything that's
inconvenient to the games that officials play with one
another and the tricks they play on citizens. The
corporate culture has run amock to the point that
just like the president of AMOCO discovered a
few decades ago, executives are shoving paper at
one another while providing nothing of substance
towards producing the product they were intended
to provide.

What are the basic precepts that state government
is supposed to provide? Honesty and a fair playing
ground for the citizens and for business.

For some decades Michigan has done neither, and
is hell bent on continuing, as much as possible, just
as they have for a long time now.

On Friday, October 18, 2013, I sent a complaint to
the City of Iron River and to the Michigan Attorney
General about the irregularities on the upcoming ballot
to delete paragraph 2.05(a) from the Iron River City
Charter. The motion was knowingly illegally passed by
the Iron River City Council, and subsequently illegally
put on the ballot, with the knowledge illegality by all the
involved Iron River city officials including the clerk and
city manager.

The Attorney General ignored the request for corrective
action  for more than two months, providing one of two
standard responses we know are all we can ever get out
of Michigan state government. Those two are 1) no
response whatsoever (by far the most common way that
Michigan deals with citizen interaction.) or 2) "We can't
do anything for private individuals."

Ladies and Gentlemen (I use the terms loosely,) just why
in the hell do you think you're there?

You are there to serve the public. That's me, and every
other individual who finds themselves within the borders
of the state!

The email I received today says, in essence, "You're just a
private citizen, I'm not here to do anything for you!"


My complaint was about violation of state laws. Part of the
problem had previously been dealt with when Al Perlongo
received a letter from the county prosecutor telling him
he could chose one or the other of the official positions he
held, but could not serve in two conflicting positions at
the same time.

But he had already cast the deciding vote on deleting
paragraph 2.05(a) from the charter. But the measure
had no place on the ballot because his vote was illegally
cast in the first place.

No, Attorney General Bill Schuette, you are the chief
law enforcement officer in Michigan and I take severe
umbrage at your refusal to perform the duties to which
you took an oath when you assumed office. Apparently
I have to remind you what those were. You swore to
uphold the constitution and the laws of the state of
Michigan. In the letter below you have denied the
responsibilities you took an oath to perform. A man is
only as good as his word.

Email follows:


Received: from ( [])
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by (Internet Inbound) with ESMTPS id 3133E700C8AA4
for ; Thu,  2 Jan 2014 10:26:44 -0500 (EST)
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Received: from ([fe80::9d36:492d:d606:f4dd])
 by ([::1]) with mapi; Thu, 2 Jan 2014
 10:26:42 -0500
From: Michigan Attorney General
To: Bill Vajk
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2014 10:26:40 -0500
Subject: Citizen Response
Thread-Topic: Citizen Response
Thread-Index: Ac8HzwkDHgA3bbJhT7OJUWtmyalg6w==
Message-ID: <7c87cd292e69634ca9ce577c03359f0406dd327111"">
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Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

January 2, 2014
To: William J. Vajk
Citizen Inquiry No. 2013-0058282-A

Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked me to respond to
your e-mail concerning a proposed amendment to the Iron
River city charter.  I regret the delay in responding.  This
Department receives hundreds of letters and e-mails each
week, making some delays inevitable.

In your e-mail, which you also sent to the Iron River city
manager, you attach a document that is identified as a
"Complaint."  In the document, you indicate that you object
to the amendment to section 2.05(a) of the city charter that
removes the prohibition on council members holding certain
appointive offices during their elected terms.  You ask that
legal action be taken to remove the amendments from the
November ballot. Based upon information received from
the November election, the amendment to the city charter
did not pass.

For future reference, the Attorney General may provide legal
advice, opinions, or representation to governmental entities
and designated public officers within the State of Michigan.
The law does not permit the Attorney General to provide legal
services to individuals.

On behalf of Attorney General Bill Schuette, thank you for
taking the time to share your concerns with this Department.

Denise C. Barton
Division Chief
Public Employment, Elections & Tort Division

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Vajk
Sent: Friday, October 18, 2013 11:46 PM
To: Michigan Attorney General;>
Subject: Complaint regarding pending election

Attached please find my signed complaint and supporting documentation.

William J. Vajk


Denise Barton's final 2 paragraphs, restated correctly, say, "don't
bother me in future."

So how do we, the citizens of the State of Michigan, get our public
officials to do the jobs they have sworn, under oath, to do? Beg?
You know that doesn't work either.

Is a reform party hiding around the corner? Come Out, Come Out,
wherever you are!

Bill Vajk

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