Measure C in Nevada City — a Nov. ballot measure to tax local residents for “status quo” police and fire services — is now facing a backlash, stemming from an ongoing series of hateful, personal attacks directed at Council Member Reinette Senum for her comments related to the Dallas police shooting.
Weeks later, Reinette’s business is still the subject of hateful, “bogus” reviews on Yelp. And the ongoing attacks aren’t sitting well with some locals.
The backlash became apparent in a recent planning commission decision to reject cell phone towers in the historic downtown — unrelated to police and fire, but a decision that Reinette and others agreed with for various reasons. Their objections had been vocal prior to the vote.
The problems began this summer when Senum made some inappropriate comments about law enforcement in general but apologized for them — twice. I did not agree with the comments, but I agreed much less with the hateful backlash — much of it from people who do not have a two- or three-digit addresses in Nevada City but figured that stirring the pot would somehow be constructive.
They called Reinette ugly names and police associations who should have known better called for a boycott of her restaurant — a decision that should be well out of their purview.
This is not new. I’ve noticed Nevada City has long been hijacked by people with their own political motives — often self-serving ones. Others just don’t like Reinette, and never will, because of her political views. They are incapable of looking past politics to see what Reinette has helped accomplish.
The taxpayers who live in Nevada City know that Reinette is outspoken. Her comments were painful to hear, but she is not alone. Recent examples abound: the words and actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, or a recent police shooting in Tulsa. In Tulsa, a white police officer who was shown on video fatally shooting an unarmed black man has been charged with manslaughter.
As for Reinette, many locals also appreciate what she has accomplished for the town. She helped found the Nevada City Farmers Market, which generates business. Some of the same people who attacked Reinette acknowledged as much when the Council voted unanimously last week to extend the farmers market year-round — a first for Nevada County. No personal word of thanks, however.
Reinette also has advocated for the homeless population and won awards for outstanding community service from the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and Marching Presidents. She also is a local business owner.
Now it turns out that the same people who mishandled and exacerbated the response to Reinette’s words are insisting that we vote for another tax increase for fire and police protection — just like insisting that we go “all in” for the cell phone towers in an historic district without questioning alternatives.
Let’s face it: Measure C is a “band aid” proposal, because the area’s population is aging and declining, while the costs for police and fire, including pensions, are rising. In the future, we will be asked to approve more taxes to keep Nevada City incorporated. There’s no doubt about it.
Few are addressing the systemic problems — a lack of good paying jobs, political intolerance that leads to gridlock in decision making, and increased competition from other retirement communities, including ones in Nevada. Meanwhile, we face escalating public pension costs, including ones for police and fire.
To be sure, we support our local police and firefighters. We attended the recent Nevada City firefighter pancake breakfast, and donate to the “boot” and countless other fundraisers.
I suspect we will “dutifully” vote for Measure C, going along with the “go along to get along” sentiment only to “kick the can” down the road until another time.
But like others, we think the hatefulness directed toward a fellow citizen was more inappropriate than the offense — and a shining example of the political bullying and intolerance that helps define our town and flies in the face of economic development. No one is addressing that either.