Our View: Nevada City needs course correction
The Nevada City Council has really stepped in it.
Its meetings are chaotic. Council members snipe at each other. There’s confusion over a nonexistent third reading of an ordinance.
And now it’s come to a city official lecturing the audience on its rowdy behavior.
It was only a matter of time before someone moved to strip Mayor Reinette Senum of her title.
The reason: At least one council member, Erin Minett, has taken umbrage over Senum’s comments to the media that don’t reflect the council’s opinion. Additionally, Senum is accused of soliciting opposition to a telecom ordinance, commonly referred to as the “5G ordinance,” that the council recently passed.
It’s all led to a motion to remove Senum from the position.
That, in turn, led some attendees at the Nov. 13 council meeting to pass around a petition calling for the removal of all council members, except Senum. Niel Locke, known for his calm demeanor, scolded meeting attendees for their rowdy behavior.
Forty years, Locke said. He’s never seen that level of disrespect shown to the council in 40 years.
With this type of leadership, we should prepare for 40 more.
The Nevada City Council is a perfect example of how not to run a government. And that blame is laid right at the mayor’s feet.
The mayor is responsible for maintaining order and decorum. Going against the majority and spouting off to various media fosters dissent and distrust among the council. Naturally it would lead to a motion to strip Senum of the title.
The council makes the mayor. It can unmake it as well.
Of course, you could blame the council for this imbroglio. The title of mayor is passed every 12 months. Senum’s penchant for making outrageous and offensive statements is well known. The council could have changed its rules and skipped over her.
It didn’t. And now here we are.
There are four possible paths this situation can go from here. The council can do nothing, which would prove it’s full of empty words and no action. It could censure Senum, or take the proposed step of stripping her of the mayoral title.
There’s a fourth, and arguably best, way this could go: Senum could sincerely apologize and promise to stop acting in a manner inconsistent with the council’s wishes.
Under that option, we’d all move on.
Any apology must be backed by change. The clash between Senum and council must end. The mayor must represent the council when speaking publicly and not just him or herself.
It’s impossible to separate the private individual from the title of mayor. Any mayor, or chairperson, who acts against the wishes of the majority should face sanction or removal. Letting this situation continue only hurts the community’s health.
In short: shape up or ship out.
This problem is bigger than a political fight between Senum and the council. It’s bigger than unruly attendees to a meeting.
Ultimately, this is about a city that needs good, strong leadership that has the community’s best interests in mind and takes action to ensure its goals are met. Nevada City, like any city, regularly needs good people to step up and run for office. It needs leaders that maintain order during meetings, that can disagree but always advance the city’s goals, for the good of everyone.
That means these future leaders need a city worth stepping up for, not a mess to step in.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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