Sunday, January 17, 2016

2015 Government Awards

The selection for awards wasn't easy this time
around. We sought out positive things done by
Iron County local governments and couldn't
find any that exemplified excellence. We
did mull over the shortcomings and were
surprised to discover that it wasn't a city or
village this time, but the Iron County Board
of Commissioners that deserves this year's
Lump of Coal Award.

Almost a year ago I brought the issue of
inadequate, at times, ambulance service here
in Iron County. That was based on a personal
experience. But then, how many times does
it take for inadequate ambulance service
to be deemed a problem?

Actually, just once. This is one of those
essential services that's supposed to be seen
to by local government without failure!

And last year it failed to be timely in our case.

So I wrote a letter published by the Iron County
Reporter. Then I posted an article here. I met
with the responsible Hospital personnel on the
topic, and I met with an Iron County official,
and exchanged email on this topic with a
member of the County Board.

Yet here we are approximately a year later with
absolutely no visible progress. In the United
States, "police power" is defined as, "capacity of
the states to regulate behavior and enforce order
within their territory for the betterment of the
health,  safety, morals, and general welfare of
their inhabitants."

While there are no minimum legal
requirements that states, and their local
municipal extensions, provide any particular
service, there are ethical and moral,
requirements that services be provided. When
I moved here in 2003, the hospital at Iron River
was called the "Iron County Community
Hospital" having been established by the Iron
County Board of Commissioners. Eventually
the county board divested itself of the
responsibility, including the embedded
ambulance service.

But with the failure of the hospital to provide
reliable 24/7/365 service at all times and under
all conditions, the time arrived no later than a
year ago that the Iron County Board needed to
reassert responsibility for managing the
ambulance service. And that is specifically
authorized under state law

In a similar vein, in the past few years it came
to be recognized that the county's nursing
home needed a new pharmacy. With the
number of municipal employees with medical
insurance here in Iron County, it made sense
to remove the drug aspects of the insurance
that the county provides, and to establish a
non-profit pharmacy to provide for all the
municipal employees in Iron County. It sure
would help stretch our tax dollars if
medications were provided at cost with no
profit to outside parties

But the laziness of the members of the Board
of Commissioners to do anything beyond
the bare essentials, for a very nice annual
stipend I hastily add, has prevented any real
progress from being made in Iron County.
In fact, I'd be willing to wager that Board
members, for relatively few hours a month,
earn well above the median wage for full
time employees in Iron County. And for

I have reason to believe that if any member
of the County Board had taken an essential
personal interest in establishing the
management of an adequate and reliable
ambulance service in Iron County, that could
easily have been achieved in 3 months, and
positively within 6 months without anyone
having to break a sweat.

I think it is time to start naming names:
  • Timothy Aho, Chair
  • James Brennan, Vice-Chair
  • Patti Peretto, Finance Chair
  • Ray Coates, Commissioner
  • Sharon Leonoff, Commissioner
So county board, enjoy your lump of coal award,
and let's see if you decide to make it 2 for 2 by
doing nothing to improve government services
for the people once again in 2016.

The above are the opinions of:

Bill Vajk

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