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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10/9/12. Agenda Item 9: City Commission will Review The Draft Social Media Policy.

Governments like to emphasize their openness and transparency but the draft which appear below (and on page 144 of the City Commission Agenda Packet) is anything but.   Who authored it or when it was written, or by whom,  is not stated.  The language in which it is written is devoid of charm. “Your submission constitutes your acceptance of this policy,” is one example of computer software boilerplate our City has adopted.
For some reason “Should not” often is used when “may not” is more appropriate. Are there allowed “should not” exceptions.
An important aspect of Social Media is that it they are currently free of charge meaning the City could use more than one to improve communications with its residents if that were its true intent. You Tube which could provide the video of City Commission meetings now lacking is not mentioned. The same applies to Blogger which could provide a two dialogue between City Commissioners and their constituents. Facebook works for some but not all. Worse one must be a Facebook Member to use it fully.  At best that means another password to remember.
The fact that this unidentified draft with an alphabet (A through Q) full of restrictions may mean it was copied from somewhere else. Presented as a solution it is indicative of a City Administration) which when it says it is interested in reaching  residents, provides only the minimum
It will be curious to see how many city commissioners vote for it. City Commissioners are the only elected office in the City and are supposed to be in communications with their constituents. As such their duties are no different that of the United States Congress or Michigan House of Representatives.
Article O of the draft however says “persons who are members of boards or commissions should not use social media (Facebook) to comment on the conduct of business concerning the actions of the board or the commission upon which they serve”. 
What if their constituents want them to comment?  Does one lose his or her right to free speech  when elected to serve the People ? If so who inherits that right. The City?
To answer that question the anonymous draft concludes with “if you have any questions about  this policy contact the City.”
So there is a City as a third entity.  Separate from the people and city commission.
At one time City Commission by a vote of the people ran the City of Bloomfield Hills.  Maybe those days are over. Last month the City Commission voted by a 5-0 for its constituents to vote half as much thereby unwittingly weakling its own authority and inadvertently creating a new authority simply called “the City.” If that were to be the case an era  of uncertainty would follow. Probably with the City and the weakened commission looking to raid the last vestige of power from the people. That would be the people's right to approve or reject charter changes.


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