Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pixie Dust

For those of you who are receiving this by mail,
please be advised at the outset of several things.
1) This is a different take from the discussion I
sent to you earlier. Some parts are, of necessity,
repetitious, but the principles underlying this
essay are new and different. 2)  THIS IS NOT 
reason for writing this essay is to get people
thinking about Michigan’s political and economic
problems in a way that can lead to change resulting
in prosperity and economic success that has been
unavailable in this state for quite some time while
other regions are progressing very nicely. The
broader the base of this discussion the better the
outcome is likely to be. 4) This essay is concurrently
being published on the internet at Iron County Doings.
5) This is one of many discussions on this topic.

In the case of Vajk v. City of Iron River, Michigan
Supreme Court Docket No. 150015, the Court of
Appeals had rendered in its opinion that:

“Plaintiff provides no authority from which it may be
inferred that, by turning off the water at the curbstop,
the City is released from its continuing obligation to
maintain capacity to provide water and sewer services
to the Plum Street property should plaintiff or a
successor owner request resumption of the water
supply. Under such circumstances, plaintiff receives
the benefit of the use of the municipal water distribution
and sanitary systems, albeit to a lesser degree than
other users of these systems, and the City’s allocation
of maintenance costs to those like plaintiff who are
connected to those systems constitute a fee for
service for the purposes of the Headlee Amendment.”

What then Court of Appeals stated, albeit indirectly,
is that my current activities are permissibly regulated,
under the guise of police powers of the City of Iron
River, based on my prophesied future activity, or
that of some unknown future owner of my property
on Plum Street. Regulation, in this instance, is charging
me the same as any consumer of water in Iron River
although I am shut off, by the city, at the curbstop.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Michigan Courts that
the US Supreme Court disagrees, Michigan hasn’t
been carrying through with its promises for some
time. So why start now despite the fact that this
failure helps drive the economic failure of the State?

“The proposition that Congress may dictate the
conduct of an individual today because of prophesied
future activity finds no support in our precedent.”
Nat. Fedn. of Indep. Business v. Sebelius, 
132 S. Ct. 2566, 2590, 2012.

No sane person who grew up in the western world
needs to have this explained to them. Would you bring
a new business to Michigan if the state can regulate your
activities today based on what they think you might do
in the future? No one but a fool would consider such
a possibility. The Court of Appeals appears to be using
pixie dust in order to try to save, and validate Iron River’s
ordinances that collect money for providing no services
whatsoever as a police regulation. United States Courts
have instilled in them to try to validate laws passed by
governing bodies. The principle is sound, but the practice
isn’t when the governing body is not working on behalf
of the public it is sworn to serve, but corruptly relies
instead on parlor games to sidestep constitutions.

We’re not going to be able to legitimately succeed or fail
as a state until the Headlee Amendment is enforced as it
was intended and written. It isn’t so much Headlee itself,
but the behavior of Michigan governments that comes into
play. Right now, the kludge that’s holding it all together is
a system of lies and corruption extending from the lowest
municipal levels of government through every level of all
three branches of state government.

When government promises certain things, then delivers
only what they feel like doing, investment flees. So talk
with your peers about this simple problem that Michigan
does not deliver what the state promises, and lets all
work together to change how this state does business
so we can progress together. Are we part of the United
States or not? When a state court system defies the US
Supreme Court, it sure doesn’t seem like we are.

Bill Vajk    July 15, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Here We Go Again!

Here we go again! The City of Iron River proves itself
incapable of obeying its own ordinances. Is the city
council so stupid that they can never learn anything?

Right now it sure seems that way. The capacity for
shameful behavior by Iron River politicos knows
no bounds.

Ordinance 51.09(f) reads as follows:

“If a premises has been destroyed or is rendered
unsuitable for use as a result of fire, windstorm,
or otherwise, and is not being used because of the
catastrophe, or if a premises has not been used 
for any residential or commercial purposes for 
a period of 6 consecutive months or more, the 
premises shall not thereafter during the period 
of non-use be charged a fee for the availability 
of solid waste and garbage disposal services.  In
the case of non-use of a premises, the determination
of non-use shall be made by the City Council upon
recommendation of the City Manager; however,
abatement of the fee shall not be retroactive to the
first date of non-use.  Abatement of the fee for solid
waste and garbage disposal services shall not be
granted to any owner or occupant of a premises who
is absent from the City of Iron River on a seasonal
basis or where non-use is due, in whole or in part,
to the inability to find a tenant for the premises.”

A house I own at 413 Plum Street has not been
put to any residential or commercial uses since
Gloria and I bought it at the end of December
2005. So I asked for abatement of the garbage
collection fees, that the city council refused, in
accordance with Mr. Perry Franzoi’s “
recommendation” on May 20, 2015. 

I received Franzoi’s letter dated June 2, 2015,
that states in part, “Based on a thorough review
of Section f, it was determined that the request
did not meet the criteria necessary to receive the
exemption and was subsequently denied.”

My response of June 12 is below. Whenever local
government brings trouble to my door, it will be
resolved. I am entitled to an abatement of this charge
and since the city knowingly imposed the charge on
a property they knew to be in a state of “non-use” I
am entitled to a refund of all charges extracted from
me for garbage collection for the entire period.

My letter to Franzoi follows. Stay tuned fop the next chapter.

                                William J. Vajk
                                Iron River  MI  49935
                                12 June 2015

Perry Franzoi, City Manager
106 W. Genesee Street
Iron River  MI  49935

REF: Your letter dated 2 June 2015

By Personal Service

Thank you for the above referenced reply.

One of the dangers in using a municipal attorney for “all”
advice is that they have a very obvious conflict of interest
under some conditions. As a taxpayer I find it unacceptable.
It was clear from listening to the meeting of May 20,
instant, that you were prompted by Iron River’s municipal
attorney to provide the particular “recommendation” that
you gave to the city council. The absence of discussion
raises the specter of prior sub-quorum proceedings. I have
chosen this formal mode of communication because, in the
end, the City of Iron River has, as regards charging me for
solid waste collection for 413 Plum Street, violated your
own ordinance and thereby consequentially violated my
civil rights. I am therefore putting you on notice of that fact
and asking you politely to abate charges and return that
which was paid for solid waste collection. Your letter of
June 2, 2015 failed to provide any specifics explaining
“did not meet the criteria” yielding the only available
understanding that there is no describable valid failure
for meeting those conditions described in Section 51.09(f).
I refuse to play word games in any regards.

The following conditions must be met in reading and
enforcing statutes and ordinances:

In ONEIDA TWP. v. Grand Ledge, 766 NW 2d 291,
295-296 (2009)

“We must not consider the statute's language in isolation;
rather, we must consider each word and phrase in light
of its placement and purpose within the statutory
scheme. Herman v. Berrien Co., 481 Mich. 352,
366, 750 N.W.2d 570 (2008). Subsections of a statute
are not to be read discretely, but as part of a whole.
Lansing Mayor v. Pub. Service Comm., 470 Mich.
154, 167-168, 680 N.W.2d 840 (2004). ‘[T]he entire
act must be read, and the interpretation to be given to
a particular word in one section arrived at after due
consideration of every other section so as to produce,
if possible, a harmonious and consistent enactment
as a whole.’ Grand Rapids v. Crocker, 219 Mich.
178, 182-183, 189 N.W. 221 (1922); see also
Macomb Co. Prosecutor v. Murphy, 464 Mich.
149, 159, 627 N.W.2d 247 (2001) (provisions
must be read in the context of the entire statute).”

And in Echelon Homes, LLC v. Carter Lumber Co.,
694 NW 2d 544, 547 (2005)

“’We begin by examining the plain language of the
statute; where that language is unambiguous, we
presume that the Legislature intended the meaning
clearly expressed — no further judicial construction
is required or permitted, and the statute must be
enforced as written.’ People v. Morey, 461 Mich.
325, 329-330, 330; 603 N.W.2d 250 (1999) ‘We
must give the words of a statute their plain and
ordinary meaning....’ Id. The plain and ordinary
meaning of words can be ascertained by looking at
dictionary definitions. Koontz v. Ameritech Services, 
Inc., 466 Mich. 304, 312, 645 N.W.2d 34 (2002).”

The pertinent part of Iron River Ordinance § 51.09(f)

“…or if a premises has not been used for any residential
or commercial purposes for a period of 6 consecutive
months or more, the premises shall not thereafter during
the period of non-use be charged a fee for the availability
of solid waste and garbage disposal services.”

The balance of subsection (f) is purely procedural
designed to prevent the sort of miscarriage under the
color of law that was evident in the May 20 meeting.
Clearly the city council is not intended to merely be a
rubber stamp for whatever recommendation you chose
to make that obviously falls outside the ordinance
established parameters.

The City of Iron River has been abundantly aware for
several years that the residence at 413 Plum Street has
not been used for any residential or commercial
purposes. Evidence of this knowledge by the City was
presented to the Federal District Court several years
ago in that lawsuit. Without a doubt either your
municipal attorney or the MML funded lawyer
assigned to that case has those details readily
available for review.

I demand the City’s obedience to the plain meaning
of its own ordinance. I present this  demand for return
of all illegally collected exactions, including “late charges”
and county fees under the solid waste ordinance
retroactive to that first collected and a continuing
abatement so long as the property continues in its
present state of “non-use.”  I have never asked for
anything more than obedience by the City of Iron
River to all pertinent laws and I fail to understand why
the City finds that so difficult. Time is of the essence.

Please take notice that this property has not been
used for any residential or commercial purpose since
Gloria and I purchased it in the final days of 2005,
therefore the 6 month period of non-use mentioned
above was met at the end of June, 2006 and remains

Under these circumstances with an better understanding
of the ongoing conditions I urge you to present the issue
to the City Council once again while providing them with
this letter in addition to your recommendation, whatever
that might be this time. Based on the City’s recent
conduct, I fear that you and the city council have lost
sight of your mission and duty to the citizens of Iron River.
Please take care that you and the city council comply with
your ordinances and all statutes as they are written.

                Best regards,

Monday, June 1, 2015

Promises -- Promises

For those of you who are receiving this by mail, please
be advised at the outset of 4 things. 1)  THIS IS NOT 
writing this essay is to get people thinking about Michigan’s
political and economic problems in a way that can lead to
change resulting in prosperity and economic success that
has been unavailable in this state for quite some time while
other regions are progressing very nicely. The broader the
base of this discussion the better the outcome is likely to
be. 3) This essay is concurrently being published on the
internet at Iron County Doings. 4) This is the first of
many discussions on this topic.

A few years ago, I had a brilliant experience, some
89 days at Wilson Jones, an office supply manufacturer.
They “invented” the loose leaf binder long ago, but as
with many such businesses they fell victim to the
computer age and the shift to paperless records that
hurt them financially as much as their decrepit obsolete

For example, the carts they used in the warehouse for
gathering materials to fill orders had industrial wheels.
They kept a supply of those on hand, not new, but
sticky hard to turn wheels that had been removed
from the carts over the years. The premise was that
when the maintenance people had a few spare
moments, they should pull one out of the old wheel
pile, disassemble the axle and bearings, clean and
lubricate, and reassemble them. During the time I
was at Wilson Jones, standard new wheels cost
about $25 each. The space allocated to storage,
solvent cleaners, rags used in the process, grease,
and the labor to make an old wheel usable again
ran the company about $40 per refurbished wheel.
Not only was it more expensive, but you still had an
old wheel more prone to failures.

Management at Wilson Jones apparently had
blinders on. This was the way things were done
from the inception of the company till the end of
its life as free standing manufacturing entity. I was
one of a few hired to help wind down / shut down
the company. 89 days represented the maximum
time available as a probationary employee leaving
the company with no additional financial impact
once I was finished. Today the place where their
factory stood is a strip mall with a good sized
parking lot on Touhy Avenue just east of the
Leaning Tower, a landmark in suburban Chicago.

The other “awakening” I experienced at Wilson
Jones had to do with some wind down management
experiments that ACCO Fasteners (the corporate
parent) ran to resolve some issues they had trying
to get a better handle on manning production
departments, as they were apparently experiencing
such problems elsewhere. One of those experiments
was to cut the production workers in each department
to see what the reduction in output would result. I was
friendly with the supervisor of their electroplating line
where the raw metal products that were to be
assembled into the clip section of loose leaf binders
were plated to make them rust resistant.

He was a fine young man who had started with
Wilson Jones on that plating line as a production
worker. He was very success oriented, the reason
for his successful climb out of production work into
supervision. But his limited education (high school
graduate) and absence of vision driving an inability
to see the bigger picture came into play. The
production that management demanded from every
department was not reduced with the culling of

In order to maintain the demanded production
output, he put on a protective suit that line workers
in his department wore, and went back to work on
the production line along side those he was
supervising. It was a true miracle that the union
workers didn’t file a grievance against him. At the
end of the production day, he put in overtime (he
was salaried and didn’t get paid for this) to catch
up on the paperwork for his department. In short,
he was working two full time jobs for a single job

I saw what he was doing and spoke to him early one
evening after the line was shut down and the production
workers were gone for the day. I explained that
management expected production to drop when they
culled people, and now that he was fully engaged in
production as he was, what did he think he could do
when they cut personnel again, because he had given
management every reason to believe his department
had been overstaffed.

So I had two pertinent experiences in one brief
employment period, with different outcomes, a beautiful
experience for someone capable of observing and
understanding all that was going on around him. I really
enjoyed my time at Wilson Jones and have other
experiences to recount at some other time, but these two
are appropriate to this article which is really about why
Michigan is failing politically and economically as a state.

In the first instance, management failed to see that
reworking wheels cost them a lot more than new ones.
This is a variation on the famous story about Henry Ford
discovering it was cheaper to cut the string off incoming
packages and throw it away rather than saving and reusing
string. Wilson Jones management was blind to the costs of
their practice for about a hundred years. I thought everyone
got this memo!

In the second instance, trying to fix a perceived problem
by working around it illicitly destroyed the value of the
experiment. In short, by “preventing” the manning problem
from festering as it was intended it should, the eventual

outcome was useless because the particular failure that was
supposed to result never had a chance to occur. Evolution,
and society is merely an evolutionary social experiment, in
nature, politics, and business, relies on the consequences of
failures as much as it does on successes.

These two problems, and plenty of others are evident in

When the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution
was enacted and became the law of the land in 1978, all three
branches of government thought they were throwing up
roadblocks because they didn’t much like the simple fact
that the people (whose government this is, after all) took
charge and told our political leeches how to do their jobs.
The people simply wanted to have a say in how our
governments spend our money.

Of course input by “the people” is crucial in a democratic
form of government, and not only have state politicians
since 1978 ignored that importance, they’ve done
everything in their power to thwart the consequences.
What we have had in these regards since 1978 is a nasty
form of an oligarchy supporting misconduct by local
government officials who regularly ignore the state
constitution and do as they damn well please because
there are no consequences. And whenever (except for
the 1997-1999 Bolt case) the government’s misconduct
comes before the courts, the courts play a strong
supporting role for that misconduct at the expense of
upholding the Michigan Constitution, something they took
an oath to do. You have only to look at the record of
Headlee Amendment cases to see how the court decisions
have often been political rather than legal.

The legislature, quite early on, established a one year
statute of limitations for Headlee Amendment complaints.
What a horrible thing to do and then they clearly indicated
their displeasure at the very thought of “the people” exerting
control beyond ordinary well spaced periodic elections.

Justice Weaver, in Taxpayers Alliance v. Wayne County
(1995) entered a dissent They labeled it “concurring in the
result only.” Justice Weaver wrote, “I would find the
one-year period of limitation to be unconstitutional
because it curtails the guaranteed right to no taxes
without a vote of the people and places undue burdens
on the people by its limiting nature.” But the court
reporter followed the “politically correct” labels in their
misguided efforts by not labeling it a dissent. So much
for honest reporting.

For their part, the Michigan Courts have found all
sorts of inane and insane excuses for avoiding the
effects intended by the people when we enacted the
Headlee Amendment. My case is currently found on
the Supreme Court docket as case no. 150015. You
can find it at . The
nonsense I’m talking about continues unabated there.

The only case I have been able to locate in which the
Michigan Constitution was upheld as was intended by
the framers is the famous Bolt v. Lansing. The case that
took several years to wind its way through the courts.
And it took a substantial seven page dissent by Judge
(now a justice on the Supreme Court) Markman at the
Court of Appeals (COA,) as opposed to a 5 page
order by the other two Court of Appeals judges, to
drive the case into a proper review by the Michigan
Supreme Court (MSC.) 

In reading the 1997 original COA verdict in the Bolt
case it is rife with statements this writer considers
pretentious nonsense. The Court of Appeals blames
the Headlee Amendment itself for failing to distinguish
between a fee and a tax and relied on a 1954 case,
Ripperger, for direction. But the Ripperger case had
altogether different circumstances, and a different state
constitution underlying it, so misusing it as a precedent
for Bolt was a serious abuse of the Court’s discretion.
Despite the COA protestations, the fee – tax decision
had already been resolved and nicely defined by the
US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in National Cable
Television v. United States (1974). SCOTUS simplified
matters tremendously in saying, “The public agency
performing those services normally may exact a fee
for a grant which, presumably, bestows a benefit on the
applicant, not shared by other members of society”

How simple and how elegant!

But MSC, when it decided the Bolt case, introduced
unnecessary complexity that doomed all future cases
to judicial review, saying in effect that only the
Michigan judiciary is qualified to decide what is a fee,
and what is a tax. Nonsense! Everyone can fully
understand the definition SCOTUS provided in 1974,
and in a minor fashion MSC included that definition as
a “by the way” sort of statement.

MSC gave instructions to the court below when it
decided the Bolt case. Isn’t it interesting that as quickly
as the Bolt case was resolved and laid to rest, the lower
courts immediately ignored everything MSC had
directed them to do/consider in Headlee Amendment
cases and fell back into the same old rather stupid
games they originally played in the initial findings for
Alexander Bolt. What, are we, the public stupid that
we can’t see what is happening? I’ll bet that poor
man is spinning in his grave. In fact, if you would
care to read my motion for reconsideration at You can see exactly
the same insultingly inane arguments that have been
provided by CO A over the years repeated in their
full glory.

We’re not going to be able to legitimately succeed
or fail as a state until the Headlee Amendment is
enforced as it was intended and written. It isn’t so
much Headlee itself, but the behavior of Michigan
governments that comes into play. All local
governments have to do is ask the people to provide
the taxation necessary for their cities, towns,
townships, and counties to be successful. If the
people don’t like it, then local government needs
to go back to the drawing board and devise
political and economic solutions at the local level
that actually work. Right now, the kludge that’s
holding it all together is a system of lies and
corruption extending from the lowest municipal
 levels of government through every level of all
three branches of state government.

You doubtless already know that before large
entrepreneurs invest money to undertake a new
business in a region they learn literally everything
 about that region. They are averse to taking
unnecessary risks such as they’ll face trying to do
business in a region that has a proven unpredictable
government. When government promises certain
things, then delivers only what they feel like doing,
investment flees. Unless you deliver what you
promise to your citizens, your word in making
promises to big money investment is clearly
worthless. These people didn’t manage to
accumulate massive investment funds by being

So talk with your peers about this simple problem
that Michigan does not deliver what the state
promises, and lets all work together to change
 how this state does business so we can progress

Bill Vajk    31 May 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

E911 In Iron County Michigan

On January 12, 2015, I was awakened by my
spouse, Gloria, in the small hours of the morning,
“I feel terrible. I need to go to the hospital, please
call for an ambulance,” she said.

I did. But it took a very long time for the ambulance
to arrive. Investigation disclosed that the one ambulance
on duty was engaged in the transport of a patient out
of the county, and another crew had to be awakened in
order to put another ambulance into service.

Is this what passes as acceptable in Iron County in 2015?

As far as I know, there are three ambulances attached
to Aspirus/Northstar Hospital here in Iron County. It
should be standard practice that as soon as the on
duty ambulance is assigned to transport duty, another
should immediately be placed in service, no? How can
we have a 911 service in Iron County and then leave
gaps in the emergency services coverage backing it
up? This is unacceptable!

On June 10, 1969, my wife at that time, Earline,
was enroute to her mother’s home in Georgia. She
was involved in an auto accident, of her own making,
and was ejected from the car (seat belts were not
standard issue as yet). The state police were on
scene fairly quickly, and a call was made to the
nearest hospital to dispatch an ambulance. The time
of day was approximately 2PM, just past lunch. Then
began a mad hunt for the ambulance driver who was
not on station and could not be found. He had the keys
to the ambulance in his pocket. It took more than an
hour to find him, drunk and passed out at a girlfriend’s
apartment, and another hour or so to sober him up to
drive because he was, according to reports, the only
one trained and insured to drive the rig.

In the meantime our three daughters, aged 6, 4, and
2 were in the car watching as their mother died
alongside the road. I was at work at Farmingdale,
New York, at the time. So North Carolina of 1969
meets Iron County, Michigan, 2015 in the inability to
provide speedy emergency services. Fortunately this
time no one died. But that’s a disaster waiting to
happen, and now you've been warned that the
problem exists.

While they were getting the crew assembled in
January 12, 2015, I asked the 911 dispatcher if
she couldn't send me a police car so I could have
help getting Gloria into the car so I could take her
to the hospital. No assistance ever came, and all the
time Gloria, on blood thinners for atrial fib, was (as
I suspected) bleeding internally. No thanks to an
ineffective emergency system that’s at work here
in Iron County, Gloria survived the ordeal and will
be coming home from rehab and recovering at
ICMCF tomorrow, 13 February. I have only nice
things to write about ICMCF. If Iron County can
get that service so right, the capacity is there to
repeat such success in other essential services. So
what's keeping you from it, Iron County Board?

Why isn't the Iron County Board aware of this
apparently regular lapse of service here in Iron
County? What about someone bleeding to death
from an auto accident? The entire premise of
having a 911 service is to save time, and
property or lives, by having rapid response that
does not exist despite the County Board's
promise that such service is available.

When the Iron County Hospital was created, the
county operated that entity and provided ambulance
service. The hospital was spun off as a separate
not-for-profit entity, and the ambulance service
with it. So long as the hospital and ambulances
were operated on a not-for-profit basis, ambulance
service was available on a 24/7/365 basis. In this
lightly populated region with an aging population it
is no surprise that the hospital had to be turned
over to a for-profit entity, in this case Aspirus.
No one can blame Aspirus for trying to get costs
under control after years of the same sorts of bad
practices by the Board of Directors as has been
destroying local governments, practices that were
financially destroying the hospital to the tune of
perhaps a million dollars (or more) per year.

But emergency services is NOT a profit center,
nor can they be treated as one, while maintaining
the levels of service that are necessary in this aging
community. So since Aspirus/Northstar cannot
provide the ambulance service, then Iron County
needs to step up and take over the service once
again. I would hate to see Northstar and Iron
County as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit,
especially once they have both been warned that
when you claim to fill the emergency services
niche, you better follow through or step aside to
allow someone else to provide the service.

This is not an item that can withstand delay.
Wait and someone, sooner or later, will
unnecessarily die. A profit vs. death case is
not going to be looked at favorably by any jury.

I attended the County Board meeting on
February 10, 2015 because the public comments
minutes was placed near the beginning of the
meeting. But that was illegally changed by the
Chair during the meeting (it should have been
changed when other aspects of the agenda were
modified.) I was not willing to sit through a long
meeting (it ended up being and hour and 45
minutes) as one of the three unpaid individuals

So congratulations to the County Board on two
fronts for failing to provide the best service to
those who elected them. First you fail to provide
an effective and necessary emergency services
while cashing in on the E911 taxes, income, and
governmental advantages of the paternalism it

Then you structure meetings in a way least
advantageous to those the meeting is supposed to
benefit. You’ve also taught me to avoid meetings
like the plague. I was hopeful that this county
board would be more prepared to benefit the
public, I had more important things to do than to
sit through a lengthy meeting that offered little to
interest me. As it was, I didn’t arrive home till
8 PM, and had I played the little games of “public
comment comes last” it would have been an
hour later yet.

So wake up, board members, and stop this failure
to provide emergency services promptly. Either
assure that we, the taxpayers, either have a timely
ambulance service provided by Aspirus/Northstar,
or provide the service yourselves, probably the
only way to assure compliance. This notification,
personally delivered to County offices tomorrow,
terminates any plausible deniability you may have
had about this problem.

Bill Vajk

Mayor Tarsi’s Management Style

Terry Tarsi, Mayor of the City of Iron River, provided
a letter published by the Iron County Reporter in the
February 4, 2015, issue.  Two things emerged as a
result of this letter. First, close to a half million dollars
of tax money paid by Iron River property owners
went to improving the old Central School that has
subsequently been converted into apartments in
private ownership. Considering that it had been owned
by the State of Michigan, we, the public, would have
been better served had the state dealt with the property.
Certainly we would not have been on the hook for
close to half a million dollars. In all reality, it should
have been demolished by its owner, the school district,
back in the 1970’s when the population was larger and
the economic impact would have been much smaller.
Buildings here in the US have a relatively short viable
economic life. How much tax revenue is the converted
central school providing to the community? How long
will it take for the citizens to “break even,” if ever, on this
project? Mayor Tarsi says he believes that the Apple
Blossom Apartments project was in the best interests of
the city and the taxpayers, but he offers nothing to back
up what he clearly states is his opinion. Is it any surprise
that we wonder about this? The 1960’s expression
“lip service” comes to mind once again.

Now Mayor Tarsi wants to spend another half a million
taxpayer dollars to demolish the Coast to Coast building,
a property and problem that the current city
administration rather stupidly purchased from the State
of Michigan. It should have been left to the state to deal
with this problem but oh no, the elected officials, while
claiming to want the best for the citizens, insist on
misspending funds that should be expended to maintain
streets and other municipal infrastructure, but instead
rather turn street lights off and streets “temporarily”
closed to traffic because they’re too deteriorated to use,
while creating a small city owned half-million vacant lot
downtown. Temporarily closed, my foot.

And what’s a few thousand spent to sponsor dog
races lasting a weekend while the city is shutting off
street lights to save money! The dog race expenditure
was challenged by a citizen in a city council meeting.
She was promptly dismissed by Mayor Tarsi stating
the city attorney deemed the expenditure legal.
Unfortunately, it seems to this writer, that Tarsi and
the city council apparently didn't rely on any “smart
or stupid” paradigm in this decision making process.

And la crème de la crème was Tarsi’s statement in
the February 4th letter, “I will not get into an editorial
debate, but I am available for a live discussion on
ther city-owned properties.”

The simple question, Mayor Tarsi, is who died and
left you the position of emperor of Iron River. You
are a servant of the people, not vice versa. We’re
not finished discussing the Apple Blossom Apartments
let alone the Coast to Coast building. Perhaps nothing
can be done about the building and contracts, but that
doesn't mean the discussion is over by your say so. The
entire matter of city planning for the future is wide open
because of any number of stupidities undertaken in the
name of the people. For example, the city has
complained for years about the jut-outs on Genesee
Street and the difficulties they create for snow plowing.
After about thirty years of experience with the problem
layout, last year the city rebuilt Genesee Street using the
same, complained about, layout. Don’t you people learn
from past mistakes?

For a recorded example of Mayor Tarsi’s management
style we need only refer to a meeting where he was running
a city council meeting:

It appears to this writer that if it isn’t going the way
Tarsi wants, he’ll threaten to have the citizen legitimately
expressing his opinion removed by force. It is this writer’s
opinion that Tarsi’s demand to take discussions to a
personal level is because he has every advantage in
such a forum.  Before witnesses Mayor Tarsi bragged
to your humble correspondent that he doesn't read
anything, rather he has his wife decide what is worth
his time to deal with.

Given the illiteracy rate in Iron County, we are led to
wonder at what grade level does Mayor Tarsi read.
This is not intended as an insult to the Mayor (not
that I have any objection to insulting him when
deserved,) but rather a call for recognizing another
reason why this community isn't thriving as it should,
possibly including city government, making the
question, under the circumstances, valid. On the
surface, a well read person generally makes a
better public official in a community if all other
considerations are equal. It is clear that Mayor
Tarsi is not well read.

Given all the above, perhaps a literacy test
requirement before running for public office
ought to be imposed in Iron County. I am
reminded that Marci Vess, who voluntarily
helped a number of local high school graduates
learn to read, died last year. I hope that someone
else has or will step up to close this void left by
Marci’s demise. The task requires willingness,
kindness, and lots of patience. The community
is just that much poorer for her absence, and
I write this as someone who had his share of
disagreements with Marci on other matters.

The shame resulting from illiteracy generates a
very high price imposed on all of society.

As usual, all the above is the opinion of:

Bill Vajk

Monday, January 19, 2015

Downtown Proposed Demolition

Ben Smith and I stand opposed to the current plan that
involves tearing down the Coast to Coast building at
public expense. Iron River does not need another vacant
lot downtown, we have plenty of those already.

We recommend repairs at the least expense necessary
to stabilize the building over a long term. To that end,
Ben and I will be circulating a petition requiring the
proposed bond be approved by the voters.

Half a million dollars, or more, could go a long ways for
the city to provide services and infrastructure we actually
need, like street and alleyway repairs Please sign the
petition to take the proposed half million dollar bond to
the voters for approval. You must be registered to vote
in Iron River for your signature to count.

Bill Vajk

Monday, January 12, 2015

Computer Hacking

A little over two decades ago, before Glen Roberts
completely lost his mind and renounced his US
citizenship, the two of us published an article in
Full Disclosure, a newspaper of that era, about
computer hacking. Centcom's breaches today
are a stark reminder of the risks warned of decades

That period was known for teen aged hackers
breaking into sensitive telephone company sites
and reading or downloading materials that the phone
companies would have preferred to keep private.

Instead of securing the computer networks, as we
suggested in that day, the companies affected, along
with providers of networking software, chose to rely
on law enforcement to do the bidding of computer
network users by prosecuting the hackers. Craig
Neidorf was wrongly prosecuted by the federal
government, and fortunately for Craig and his family,
the costs were picked up through Mitch Kapor's
Electronic Frontier Foundation. Mitch was also the
founder of the Lotus Corporation. In the end, Craig
was found not guilty, and the federal judge presiding
over that case severely criticized the US Secret Service
that was charged in those days with investigating and
litigating computer crimes. As a direct result, jurisdiction
was taken away from the Secret Service and
transferred to the FBI.

Unfortunately, over the decades, the publishers of the
software the internet relies on for security have failed
to do their very best to hackerproof their software,
continuing instead to rely on law enforcement to strike
terror in the hearts of would-be hackers and others
with nefarious intent.

What we as a nation rediscovered of late is that the FBI's
reach and the authority of the federal courts is ineffective
beyond US borders. Surprise surprise!

So we've lost several decades during which development
of better strategies for internet software have been lost,
and suddenly it is too late to secure this Goliath of an
internet that we rely on for so very much. Heck, we, as a
nation, couldn't even get a failure proof federal web page
on line for Obamacare.

What, you may well ask, does this have to do with local
politics. Everything. We each rely on the internet for
communications, control of our  power grid, and the safety
and security of US pipeline companies, including those
that deliver natural gas for residential heating to much of the
nation, and our financial systems. Why on earth would
anyone thing for a second that such computer
communications could be maintained as 100% secure?

As can easily be seen, you don't have to own a computer
to be significantly affected. Others are exposing us all
to unwanted risks.

What Glen and I warned of so long ago has come to be
the new reality. I'll say it again, the purveyors of software
must build in hackerproof protection. In addition it would
be prudent to create a second internet, limited to national in
scope, that is secured and under permanent 24/7/365
security scrutiny, for those functions we must have as a nation
while removing all sensitive sites from the hum-drum of
the international wild-west internet that everyone can access.

Better we do something now instead of never.

Bill Vajk

2014 Local Government Awards

Unfortunately there were no positive 
outstanding achievements by local 
governments in Iron County during 
2014 deserving of notice and award.

On the other hand, the Iron County 
Board, the City of Iron River 
council, and Iron County Treasurer 
have earned the Lump of Coal award 
for the year 2014 for the illegal 
collection, under the threat of 
foreclosure, of unlawful property 
taxes. Tax documents that are required 
under law to be certified were not, and 
in the case of delinquent water bills 
and unpaid noxious weeds mowing 
invoices have not been certified for 
more than a decade by the 

The County Board is required to 
certify the taxes for collection by the 
treasurer has failed in their duty to 
the public to provide more than a rubber 
stamp approval for whatever infractions 
of laws local municipal governments 
under this jurisdiction commit. The state 
has required the county board to provide
checks and balances sufficient to 
demonstrate compliance by municipalities
to state laws. This they failed to do. See
Vajk v. City of Iron River, Michigan 
Supreme Court docket # 150015.

It is the duty, in compliance with their 
oaths of office, for each of the people 
singled out by these awards to comply
with the laws and thus to enforce 
compliance by local governments to the 
laws, and they have failed to do their 
sworn duty.

Each deserves this lump of coal award
for failing their sworn duties.

Bill Vajk

Monday, January 5, 2015

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