Today in the Trib is an article covering the fact that City Council members were handed a memo regarding the use of social media during City Council meetings.
Basically the memo informs City Council that the City is working on a social media policy and cautions them to take care with their social media usage.
The memo to council cautions that social media discussions or texting and e-mailing each other during a meeting could cause a conflict with the state’s Sunshine and Open Records laws. The memo reminds council members that they’re restricted from conducting political activities during working hours and in city offices.
Doug Shields is not happy:
“It’s not like five of us get on a Facebook chat and convene a discussion about some type of legislation,” he said.
Bill Peduto is NOT happy, going so far as to call Lukey “Mayor Mubarakenstahl” on Bill’s facebook status in which he also talks about “freedom of expression.”
I am a fan of Bill Peduto’s and I will remain a fan of Bill Peduto’s but in this case, I gotta side with the Mayor and Joanna Doven, who said:
“Councilman Shields should actually read the memo before he once again yells ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.”
While certain members of city council are lashing out in a way that tells me maybe they’re taking this a bit too personally, this appears to me to be a smart practice only because as research will show, other cities are being faced with the same issue. Social media versus Open Records Laws.
Here’s a case in Florida that is even broader reaching than simply city council meetings, but going so far as to record every text:
Florida Sunshine Law watchdogs are keeping a sharp eye on the social media sphere. They want to ensure that all public records remain public and that they can be tied back to the public official who generated them.
“We don’t want to open up to discussion,“ Murphy said. “We don’t have the infrastructure and we can run into Sunshine (Law) problems, etc.”
The King County Council recently took action to ensure that the County’s use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, complies with the County’s obligations under various King County and Washington public record laws.
A quick search of “social media and open records law” will have you swimming in articles, PDFs, and blog posts regarding just this thing being addressed in many other cities.
So why is Doug Shields “baffled” by the memo? Beats me.
I guess I’m just not seeing what the big deal is. According to the article, it doesn’t appear the memo is talking about anything other than social media use BY City Council DURING City Council meetings. Yes, City Council and Lukey should make sure the process for writing the policy is done in the proper way and through the proper channels, but it sounds like a policy that City Council should want written especially in light of how litigious our society is these day.
I don’t think this is a case of Luke trying to stick it to City Council, but rather just a case of “better safe than sorry.”
And I don’t think a prospective social media policy that takes open records laws into consideration is worthy to be compared to what happened in Egypt.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hop on this pig and fly to the icy gates of hell.