Nevada City Council members accuse mayor of violating code of ethics in PG&E criticism

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NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Some members of the Nevada County City Council accuse Mayor Reinette Senum of violating its code of ethics for some social media posts but the mayor said she is well within her rights.

The City Council was set to discuss imposing penalties against Mayor Senum at its meeting Tuesday evening, largely over her public disapproval of Pacific Gas and Electric's planned power shutoffs online and speaking to the media.

"Right now, most people are feeling like they’re being held hostage by PG&E and it makes everyone very uncomfortable," Senum told FOX40 in October. "We have to get away from PG&E. They’re acting criminally."

Councilman Duane Strawser said, time and time again, Senum fails to clarify whether she’s speaking on behalf of Nevada City or herself, violating the city’s code of ethics.

"We all have freedom of speech and believe in that but those comments have to be made as an individual not as a mayor of a community when a community doesn’t back those comments," Strawser said.

Senum declined an on-camera interview Tuesday but in council documents wrote, “I have never known it necessary for a mayor to seek authorization from the city council to have a personal opinion and to work on a most important Public Safety issue.”

Neighbors were also divided.

"It is a democracy and everyone has a right to say what’s on their mind and what their opinion is," neighbor Debbie Gibbs said.

“I think she should clarify who she’s speaking for when she speaks," neighbor Cathy Wittlesey told FOX40.

According to the city attorney, only voters can recall an elected official. But since the title of mayor rotates between council members each year, Strawser said he hopes to strip Senum of that title.

"If nothing else, that at least keeps her from going out and spreading her own rumors and fabricating facts under the title of mayor," Strawser said.

FOX40 reached out to other members of the City Council but did not hear back Tuesday afternoon.

After a lengthy discussion at Tuesday night's meeting, no motion was made in regards to sanctioning the mayor. So, Reinette Senum will keep her title for now.

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