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Calumet repeals two laws after lost petitions

Calumet Council held a special meeting in the ballroom of Village Hall Tuesday night to address allegations of mishandled citizen petitions. Last year the group passed Ordinances 157 and 158 to allow the appointment of the treasurer and clerk by the council. The main argument for the measures was to widen the potential pool of applicants. With the village down to only 621 residents, the worry is it will be difficult to fill all of the municipal posts required by law. They point to the difficulty to find enough council members.

Residents Virginia Dwyer and Peggy Germain circulated petitions to get the measures put to a vote during a special election. They have that right up to 45 days after a measure has passed. Dwyer’s application concerned the treasurer and Germain’s pertained to the clerk. Dwyer has a receipt from both Village Clerk Dave Geisler and Township Clerk Beth Salmela. It was turned in on August 18th and the signatures were verified by the 20th. An election was never called on the issue. Germain says that she presented her forms to Geisler, and he registered receipt of them. The paperwork never got to Salmela, though. Neither clerk was at the meeting to give a possible explanation.

Dwyer and Germain believe that the positions should be elected. The treasurer conducts important business, including carrying out various financial duties, and the two want that person to be a resident who is accountable to his or her neighbors. The council worries that if someone is selected by voters who turns out to be a poor fit for either role, there are limited means to replace them until another election takes happens two years later.

The meeting became heated at times. Council President Brian Abramson had to firmly remind Dwyer that her concerns are not with the village itself.

Dwyer: Mine is messed up too. I was never, by law, told– Abramson: By the township. [crosstalk] Abramson: By the township? Dwyer: That’s right. And the council never addressed it at a meeting, saying mine was verified.

At Tuesday’s meeting Calumet Council passed Ordinance 160 repealing 157 and 158. That will revert the selection of clerk and treasurer to elections for now. The plan is to pass an identical measure later on this year, and if there is a petition challenge it will go before voters in November. The cost of a May special election would run between three- and five-thousand dollars. Putting the issue on the general election ballot means the cost is borne by the township.

If something is passed in the future, petition signatures would have to regathered. Dwyer and Germain both objected to that as being a way to potentially circumvent their efforts.

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