SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon accused of stomping on freedom of speech

January 15, 2021

SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon

By KAREN VELIE

Under fire for blocking just about anybody who disagrees with her, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon took her Instagram page down, put it back up with everyone unblocked, and is now taking it down again.

After receiving a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for a list of everyone Harmon had blocked from her social media accounts, the mayor announced on approximately Jan. 8 that she was getting off of social media to promote personal connectivity. Harmon then shut down her Instagram account. That lasted less than a week.

Harmon reopened her Instagram account on Jan. 12, with those she had blocked suddenly given access. Even so, a day later Harmon announced plans to shut the account down again.

“I’m taking a pause from all social media channels so that I can focus on key issues and the historic challenges we face and not on the negative and consistent vitriol I experience on social media,” Harmon posted on Jan. 13.

In response to the records request, Harmon provided an eight-page list with only 25 names on it, including Adam Montiel from “Up & Adam in the Morning.” It appears what Harmon sent was zoomed-in, incomplete screenshots that did not clearly show who all were blocked, with many accounts noticeably cropped out, rather than producing a simple and complete list.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2019 that the comment section of a public official’s social media page is a public forum, meaning they cannot delete the comments of those who disagree with them based on their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Harmon has good reason to be concerned, Irvine Mayor Christina Shea is currently battling a lawsuit after she blocked a man from her official Facebook page because he had criticized her comments about Black Lives Matter.

Harmon blocked Montiel after he corrected her interpretation of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During his Jan. 14 show, Montiel took Harmon to task.

“It’s true, she blocks people for literally just disagreeing with her, correcting her, or really, anything she wants to, and it turns out, that’s illegal,” Montiel said on his show. “If she can submit dishonest or incomplete evidence from her city phone and the city doesn’t catch it, what assures residents that anything that is requested of her can be perceived as truthful and complete?”


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pigsrule

SLO stomps on Constitutional rights – nothing new here.


scott_giles

so is her folly she doesnt pander to polly directly? it would be really hard you have tranference of so many communities…i formulating a opinion that every leader is allowed one folly to be presented after office in respectable kind manner so they can enjoy their legacy of leadership…jus idea im working on…i have an associates degree in behaviorial science and adt in poly sci


enoughalready

Y’all deserve her up there. Used to be such a wonderful city… Cal Poly 1978. Arroyo Grande is as close as I want to get these days.


Jon Tatro

Heidi is the Trump of SLO.


derasmus

Ilhan Omar of SLO


Apolitical

Dumb comment. Heidi has done NOTHING to make SLO better. On the contrary, EVERYTHING Trump did was for the good of the country and DID make it better.


commonsenseguy

Just another moment of insanity by this disturbed individual. You voted this nut in again SLO. Shouldn’t she and the city council be addressing the dying downtown and the economic devastation she’s brought on her own city? She’s nothing but a narcissist. She can’t get enough of herself. What a complete embarrassment as a failed leader.


DonDraper

You’re describing the racist president.


username1

She does hate working white people, I would say that is racist


Everybody_Lies

No, we are describing our racist Mayor. During the last election, she referred to her opponent (who was SLO’s first African American candidate for Mayor) as a “racist.” She also took selfies with, then cheered on an angry mob of BLM protesters the night they entered and blocked the 101 freeway and began throwing bricks at the 4 y.o. son of a white working couple. Hey, but you “woke” citizens of SLO voted for the crazy white woman instead of the level-headed African American businesswoman. I don’t think SLO is going to be able to blame this colossal blunder on Trump, though some of you have already tried.


2eyesoncalcoast

Not to mention she encouraged Tiana Arata the leader of that fiasco and others to seek reparations from many of the downtown business owners that boarded up their windows during the protests in fear their businesses would be broken into or vandalized during the protests as did happen to some businesses and property.Tiana and her mother claimed boarding up windows as perpetuated fear and hate, so they basically sent an extortion letter to all the downtown business that boarded up their windows to pay reparations to BLM.They felt the money should be equivalent to the amount of money and time they spent upholding fear in investing boarding up shops, and using their visibility community to undermine true progress, ( Oh brother, so much progress here in this town from Harmon, not! ) The kicker is if they didn’t cough it up or refused to pay, these what I call extortionists would slander business owners, received all kinds of angry posts on Yelp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, at a time when they were using social media to help promote business during the pandemic. They also would go walk the streets downtown while people were outside trying to eat at restaurants (that were open and trying to still keep afloat and keep their employees, employed,) and they would have bullhorns and yell, chant and actually walk up to people and yell in their face if they happen to be light skinned ( they’re lucky my husband don’t want to lose time away from our own business at he would’ve popped the dumb lil’ jerk that used the bullhorn in my face and I’m Hispanic ) or eating at a place that refused to pay the so called reparations aka extortion money. Yeah, that’s who our wonderful ( NOT ) Mayor Harmon doesn’t block and gives free reign of their speech to, but not the people who bring charm to the downtown of our community and that’s the business owners of the unique shops and restaurants we have, nope they get censored! SMH!


shelworth

I love your photos of the Mayor, you always capture her “essence”…


copperhead

exactly. would a grown-up ever do that?


George Garrigues

Uh, good article, but the illustration belies any attempt at good journalistic practice. Best wishes anyway.


J-Man

The illustration used was created by the lovely mayor herself and posted on Instagram. Just some friendly advice, do some homework before bashing another journalist.