ELY – City council members here discussed the city of Ely’s new Social Media Policy during a brief business meeting Tuesday night and took no action on implementing the policy due to uncertainty …
ELY – City council members here discussed the city of Ely’s new Social Media Policy during a brief business meeting Tuesday night and took no action on implementing the policy due to uncertainty over whether to allow public comments on the city’s proposed Facebook page.
Mayor Chuck Novak said he was concerned with recent court rulings pertaining to how government agencies handle comments on Facebook postings. “If you allow comments, whether you like them or not, you cannot remove them because this is a freedom of speech issue,” he said.
Novak said he recalled that when the social media policy was first proposed, that councilors had agreed that commenting would not be allowed. Yet, based on minutes from last month’s meeting of the Telecommunications Advisory Board, the discussion assumed that city departments would be able to decide on their own if commenting would be allowed. Ely Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski noted that the clerk’s office would not allow comments, but that the library, and police and fire departments would have the ability to determine how posts are handled.
The city of Ely is looking to join Facebook in an effort to disseminate critical information and notices to the public in a more-timely manner.
At least one city council member, along with the Ely Police Department and Public Library, already regularly post information on Facebook.
For example, following the council meeting Tuesday night, after Langowski announced that the city’s calendar street parking restriction was lifted as of May 7, council member Al Forsman and the EPD both posted that information to their individual Facebook pages.
The social media policy, as presented, includes the following disclaimer: “Comments expressed on the city of Ely’s social media tools do not reflect the opinions or positions of the city of Ely, its employees, or its appointed officials.” The policy also retains the city’s right to remove any comments, questions or postings pertaining to such things as profane language, personal attacks or threats, content that promotes discrimination, unrelated topics, political endorsements, and other content.
Novak said Tuesday that he prefers that no comments at all be allowed on any of the city’s social media. Council member Heidi Omerza, who first proposed developing a Facebook presence for the city and a social media policy, was absent from the meeting.
The council, in the end, took no action. A revised social media policy will be discussed at their next regular meeting.
In other business, the council:
Approved hiring a utility person to fill the vacant position in order to help implement the city’s automatic meter reading system and assist in other departments, as proposed by the budget committee;
Approved the recommendation to apply for a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fire grant of $10,000 to fund the conversion of the fire department’s water tanker truck;
Agreed to nominate the American Federation Union building for a preservation award in the state’s preservation rehabilitation category;
Approved a Water Tower one-year lease with Treehouse Broadband, at a cost of $240 per month, to provide wireless Internet service in the city;
Approved a bid from Mike Motors for a new police department vehicle, a 2019 Dodge 1500 crew cab 4x4 pickup, at a cost of $28,765, to replace the department’s 2007 Ford Expedition;
Authorized the land sale purchase agreement and closing documents with Richard “Chip” Hanson for the land at the Ely Veterinary Clinic;
Named Hannah Bermel to the vacant Library Board position;
Approved the first reading of the city’s mobile food truck ordinance;
OK’d a raffle permit for the Dorothy Molter Memorial Foundation;
Approved an on-sale and Sunday sale liquor license for the Anchor and the Ark establishment at 101 N. Central Ave, in the former Chocolate Moose restaurant location.