Nevada City mayor to face possible sanction, removal
Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum will face possible sanction or removal during the next council meeting, Dec. 10, after Council member Erin Minett brought the motion forward and the council approved discussion of possible censure.
“I would like to request the majority of council direct — this isn’t easy for me — an inclusion of an item on the next agenda for consideration of discussion and possible action of removal or sanctioning of the current mayor,” Minett said Wednesday.
“I have concerns and I have received public comments about Reinette’s not clarifying that the opinion she expressed regarding multiple city matters are her own and that she was not speaking on behalf of the city or the City Council,” Minett also said.
Minett said throughout the past month the mayor made statements in multiple platforms on issues, including the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs and fire safety efforts, that do not reflect the will of the council.
“In addition I have observed and received complaints from others that in her goal to oppose 5G she has actively solicited opposition to the wireless facility ordinance adopted by the council,” Minett said.
Senum denied any wrongdoing and said the motion was not motivated by misleading media statements, but was made in retaliation for her activism on the 5G issue.
“Mayors do give interviews all the time, you do know that,” Senum said to Minett at the meeting.
According to Council member Duane Strawser, the motion came following growing behind-the-scene tension between the mayor and citizens and staff who feel frustrated with the tone of meetings that only escalated as the 5G issue was being hammered out.
Minett was not able to be contacted about whether she intends for the agenda item to remove the honorary mayoral title from Senum or to remove her from the council entirely.
According to California Newspapers Publishers Association general counsel Jim Ewert, the city’s organizing documents would outline the process for removing a representative, if one exists.
“I would find it surprising if a city’s organizing documents allow for a council to remove a colleague,” Ewert said. “That person could represent a distinct viewpoint in the community that would mean constituents losing their voice.”
According to city officials, the process of a sanction or removal will need to be researched by city counsel before next month. Nevada City Manager Catrina Olson said she could not recall such a move in her 12 years with the city.
During the meeting, a petition gathering signatures to recall Council members Minett, Strawser, Valerie Moberg and David Parker — all the council members except Senum — was circulated around the audience.
The petition accused the council members of not fulfilling their duties to protect citizens because they approved 5G wireless telecom regulations.
Nevada City Clerk Neil Locke stepped to the microphone twice during Wednesday’s public comment to admonish the assembled public for rowdy behavior and took the opportunity to explain the proper recall procedures.
“In 40 years I’ve never seen a recall petition in this city,” Locke said. “Nor have I seen the disrespect shown the council and the city by so-called residents.”
In 2016, former Nevada City Police Officers Association President Tim Ewing called for Senum to resign and suggested the council censure her for Facebook comments she made while a council member.
At that time, the council took no action on the suggestion, and Nevada City Attorney Hal DeGraw said the city code doesn’t spell out the censure process.
“They’re trying to take me down and I feel sorry for them,” Senum said Thursday.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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