Resister resident runs for reform

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette One of several abandoned and dilapidated buildings in downtown Calumet that, while costly, could still be restored. Resident Julie Johnson is running for a seat on the Village Council, because she said she wants to change unfair property actions the council has taken under the guise of blight enforcement.

CALUMET — Village resident and business owner Julie DePaul Johnson is running for a seat on the Village Council, she said, because she is tired of what she sees as unfair political practices in the village government, particularly with the several committees.

One of those is the Blight Committee, which, she said, is targeting properties that contain something of value, while other properties are completely overlooked.

Once a building is placed on the blight list, the Keweenaw Economic Development Authority (KEDA) becomes involved.

“My reasoning isn’t about me,” she said. “I’m just one of the people they happened to target. It could happen to anybody if you have anything of value and they want to take it from you.”

She said this is not so much the Village Council as the Blight Committee bringing in outside groups, one of which she said is KEDA.

“You can walk down the sidewalk and ask anyone on the sidewalk: ‘What has KEDA done for you?'” she said, “and they would say, ‘Who the hell is KEDA? What does that even stand for?’ Those are the people that are rolling into our town behind our backs, and doing illegal land grabs. They don’t care about us.”

The various committees, she said, have their private meetings, the majority of which are scheduled for times most residents cannot attend because they are working.

“According to Joe Snow (the village manger), they put it on the (Village Hall) door,” said Johnson, “but it’s on a piece of paper about an inch big, and half of the people aren’t going to notice that.”

They conduct the regular monthly Village Council meeting, she said, which is open to the public, and gets published, and then there are the private meetings no one is invited to.

“They schedule meetings for times nobody can attend,” she added, “such as 2 p.m., 10 a.m., and it’s clearly not OK.”

Adding to the list of committees, she said is the Historic District Commission.

“You can ask anybody on the street, what has the HDC done for you?'” she said. “Nothing. They point you to the (national) park, and you go over there, and you go and ask the park for a grant. And then John Rosemergy slams the door in your face, or Steve DeLong tells you to give him a thousand dollars so they can design a sign for your building, because you want to open a business, but you don’t want to put a sign that’s against regulations.”