Recently repealed ordinances remain in effect
CALUMET — Ordinances 157, 158 and 160 were topics of discussion at the regular monthly Village Council meeting Tuesday evening. Village Attorney Jim Tercha addressed the Trustees, telling them that the council lacked the necessary votes at last week’s special meeting to legally adopt Ordinance No. 160, which was intended to repeal the other two ordinances.
Tercha said he spoke with Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly a day or two after the Jan. 11 special meeting in reference to objections voiced by a number of residents that there were not enough votes to adopt the measure. Consequently, ordinances 157 and 158 are still in effect.
Kelly, said Tercha, offered a suggestion for a resolution to the missing and mishandled ballot petitions. According to him, the two petitions, challenging the two previous ordinances, were in fact delivered to the village office.
“Since Mrs. (Peggy) Germain, one of the residents who had circulated a ballot petition to challenge Ordinance No. 157, has a copy of those petitions,” he said, “Mrs. Kelly has indicated that the copy could be substituted for the original.”
In that case, he said, Kelly had stated that she would prefer the photocopies of the petitions were viewed as the originals, and Mrs. Germain should bring her photocopied petition, complete with the signatures, to the office in order that one or two copies of it could be made, one for the Calumet Township Office and one for the village. Tercha stated that Germain could keep her copy of the document.
“I would be happy to be present here, too,” said Tercha, “if that would aid in moving things along, and we would arrange to do this when the county clerk could be present at the township office.”
Reason being, he said, was after making copies at the village office, they would be delivered to the township office for the township clerk to receive, to ensure there are adequate signatures on the petitions.
If that were the case, said Tercha, then the Township Office could proceed to place both ordinances on the ballot for the Tuesday, May 3, election.
Tercha referred to a Daily Mining Gazette article in which Germain, the petitioner, had expressed her concerns that the ballot petitions produce a referendum on both ordinances in question.
“So, this would satisfy her in this case,” said Tercha. “I hope that you have no objection to this.”
Tercha said that there is a deadline of Tuesday, Jan. 25, to accomplish all of that. Kelly, however, offered a much different statement.
In a Wednesday afternoon interview, Kelly said that at no point or time did she suggest or recommend any action to the village other than they had better resolve it. Through conversations with Tercha, Village Manager Amber Goodman, Trustee Rob Tarvis, Township Clerk Beth Salmela, and others, they were what Kelly said was “so to speak, brainstorming.”
“The big thing is,” said Kelly, “where are the petitions they said they received. And nobody can answer that, so everybody’s scrambling, because nobody knows what to do.”
Kelly said the Michigan Bureau of Elections is not touching it, she’s not touching it, Calumet Township is not touching it, therefore, the village is on its own.
“So,” she said, “we were talking — and all of a sudden, now they’re saying the county clerk said this and that, and ‘we have to have it done by the 25th.
“Now, listen,” she continued, “I never said that. I said the petition deadline is the 25th.”
She said she had asked if Germain has a copy of her original petition and was told Germain does have a copy.
“But, they don’t know that,” said Kelly, “or, maybe they know that now. I don’t know. But, she is apparently not willing to give it to them, is what I’m told. But, that’s coming from how many people?”
Kelly said she doesn’t know what else to do at this point, and it is the village’s responsibility and duty to solve the issue themselves.
Kelly clarified her position again, saying there were many conversations with officials involved, including Tercha.
“But never did I say that it is my recommendation — or that this is how it’s gotta be. Never have I said that.”
Kelly said Michigan’s Elections Bureau instructed her not to do anything regarding the village issue.
“They told me they’re not going to touch it,” she said. “They told me: ‘Don’t you do it; don’t let the township do it. This is up for the attorney and the –“
Kelly said at this point, she does not know if there are criminal implications. That is up to the police and the prosecutor to determine, she said.