SLO City Council considering social media policy

April 6, 2021

One of SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon’s social media posts

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Amid allegations Mayor Heidi Harmon violated  the rights of others when she blocked people who disagree with her from commenting on her social media pages, the San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday will consider adopting a social media policy for public officials.

In 2019, the Fourth Court of Appeals ruled 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 rights to freedom of speech.

Nevertheless, late last year, Harmon received a public records request asking for a list of everyone she had blocked from her social media accounts. Shortly later, Harmon announced she was leaving social media to promote personal connectivity.

Harmon acknowledged blocking at least 25 Instagram users and 58 Facebook users, though based on screenshots she submitted in response to the records request, it appeared the list of blocked users was incomplete.

The mayor has left and returned to social media multiple times since receiving the records request. Currently, she is back on social media and has reportedly unblocked the users she blocked.

During its meeting Tuesday, the council will consider approving a proposed set of policies to require, “social media posts and messages by public officials regarding matters that are before the city for action or within city jurisdiction can be ‘official city business’ subject to laws and policies regarding freedom of speech, records retention and production and public transparency.”

SLO’s draft social media policy calls for public officials to avoid deleting comments or blocking users on official pages or sites they maintain.

The policy would also require council members to delineate between separate accounts for official communications and personal or campaign statements. Council members would need to convey that their personal or campaign communications do not represent the position of the city or the city council as a whole.

Under the proposed policy, personal and campaign accounts would be prohibited from displaying the individual’s elected office in the name of the profile. Officials would also be prohibited from displaying a city logo or an official city mark on their personal or campaign pages.

If council members receive communication about city business on a personal account, they would be expected to copy the information to their official city accounts for the purpose of transparency and ease of access in case of public record requests.

Social media content would need to be retained in accordance with city policy on keeping documents or in line with a minimum two-year period required by state law.

Furthermore, social media communications would need to be consistent with new provisions of California’s Brown Act that prohibit social media interactions between council members on matters of official city business.

Conversely, council members would be allowed to discuss official business on social media if they are answering questions, providing information to the public or soliciting information from the public.


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Cmonnow

I cannot be-LEEEVE you SLO town folks re-elected her. It all sounds good at cocktail fundraisers, but when it hits the fan remember who you voted for.


mazin

To my North County friends, THIS is the politician you have to deal with to prevent your water basin from being ripped off. Wise up, you need eco allies.


commonsenseguy

YOU have it wrong. She MUST protect our watershed. If it wasn’t for the North County(Santa Margarita Lake)and Northwest County(Whale Rock Res.)along with the watershed that replenishes them both, SLO City wouldn’t exist.


As for your “eco allies”, the North county, rancher’s, farmer’s and producers of many essential products are far and above better stewards of the land and it’s protection than Harmon will ever be. Talk is cheap. She and her supporters along with those that defend her, have more than proved it.


mazin

Exactly, there are a similarity of interests, North County property owners, SLO city (Santa Margarite Lake) and eco-folks.

Don’t really like the term ‘stewards’, prefer property owners. As a rule, I do not support public ownership of land. Maintenance is expensive and typically under budgeted. Lowers the tax rolls. Weeds grow without proper grazing. The public entity almost always overpays.


commonsenseguy

I’m sure I speak for the majority of the North County when I say, we have no interest for the city of SLO or Harmon. She’s made it that way.


kettle

“I’m sure I speak for the majority ” No, you only speak for yourself under a fake name.


If you want to represent the north county run for office.


commonsenseguy

Who’s to say I haven’t or currently might be?


kettle

No one, that’s my point about your claim to speak for others, you could speak Hindi and live on the east coast or be a golden retriever.


commonsenseguy

I’m your neighbor brother.


ddc1983

From what I can tell of Mayor Heidi Harmon’s picture there, I’d say her midichlorians are off the scale.


Buchon

Oh! I wonder if the wannabe queen blocked me on either FB or IG? Not that I would have noticed!


Where’s she been BTW? Back in her bunker waiting for things to “improve” a bit?


copperhead

Worthy of a high school sophomore. People vote for this woman because?


mazin

People vote for this PERSON because?

Don’t come off as a condescending sexist so others may side with you more.


horse_soldier

Referring to a woman as a woman is not sexist.

Get over yourself.


mazin

Just ask professional females how they would take the terms “this woman”.

Or alternatively, continue to LOSE elections. Spend lots of money and lots of time and lose, lose, lose every office. But you will be able to say you’re a man’s man and put “that woman” in her place.


commonsenseguy

Ah, now that’s rich. Making false accusations about condescending words towards women, while supporting a party who’s history in that area is sick. May I remind you of Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden, Jeffry Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken just mention a few along with many others. Please, don’t try to stand in self-righteousness while covered in filthy hypocrisy.


kettle

“don’t try to stand in self-righteousness while covered in filthy hypocrisy.”


Just like Trump has been doing for decades.


commonsenseguy

As long as you call them all out equally, I have no problem with your comment. If not, see above.


kettle

“As long as you call them all out equally” LOL So you just forgot to mention donald in your rush to fling partisan shit around in the comments.


Look at the pictures, all sorts of people involved.


commonsenseguy

Nothing partisan about my comment.


derasmus

Mazin, nothing sexist about it, copperhead asked a reasonable question.


mazin

The question is fine. I actually agree with it.

Just the choice of noun will immediately offend many, if not most, professional women.


ddc1983

Wait… so if you’re saying that the use of this noun will “offend most professional women,” aren’t you offending them too by using that same noun?

And, for that matter, how do you know it would offend them? Have you polled/surveyed professionals? Or are you just virtue signaling?


mazin

“THIS woman”, “THAT woman” If you want to communicate, convince the majority of the population, that is not the way to do it. All this article and blogging did was make me feel sympathy for Harmon, as someone who has to put up with unpleasant people.

And, yes, I try to lead a virtuous life with a clean unbigoted mouth and mind. And yes been around, worked with, and worked for, many intelligent women who worked in the professions. Working mothers deal with a huge challenge.