Should Wichita Falls tell elected officials what they can tell voters?

Pratt on TexasA story by Nicholas Quallich, reporting for KFDX in Wichita Falls, was headlined: “City sanctioned social media accounts may be on the way for city employees.” And thanks to News/Talk 1290 listener Barry’s email to me, this story got more of my attention.

It read, in part, “One day after the Wichita Falls mayor discusses adopting a code of conduct for city councilors, he is now suggesting a social media change for city employees.”

Stephen Santellana, Wichita Falls mayor

“[Mayor] Stephen Santellana said employees like himself, city councilors and others, could be assigned official social media accounts. This would provide the city the ability to monitor all communication between employees and citizens and hold employees accountable for any inappropriate behavior…”

Listener Barry rightly wrote: “Found this effort by our mayor astounding. He wants to assign social media sites to City of Wichita Falls employees so he and City staff can monitor their activity. This all stems from new District 5 City Councilor Steve Jackson posting public documents on his Facebook page, specifically current and proposed city salaries for the City Manager and Directors, which the Mayor and City Manager did not want released because the City Manager is wanting a… raise…”

The city has every right to make sure social media used to disseminate city information by employees comply with reasonable standards but Mayor Santellana and council members are not “employees” but fiduciary representatives of the people.

The idea of the city implementing official censorship of public communication by elected officials deserves severe rebuke by all.

The idea of the city implementing official censorship of public communication by elected officials deserves severe rebuke by all.

There are already laws which protect against the dissemination of confidential material under which a rogue official can be stopped or punished. What Mayor Santellana appears to be calling for is a form of prior restraint on free political speech by elected officials. It is the definition of official censorship.

That the Wichita Falls mayor’s personal inclination is to use the heavy hand of tyrannical government to stop the speech of others, as opposed to simply working to build trust with these officials, says much about him and not one bit of it is complimentary.

Comments

  1. There is much more to this story than the councilor simply posting the salaries… those are public information. He also stated that the average City Manager pay in Texas is about $85,000 and the WF City Manager is grossly overpaid. He doesn’t give any information about how he arrives at this supposed average salary. He has made statements like the City Manager should not make more than a police officer. He has also made derogatory statements on the District 5 Facebook page about the mayor and city manager. He has falsely stated that the mayor is being awarded city contracts for his own business, which is illegal, and he has claimed he has awarded projects to close friends and business partners. The Councilman also posted about a city bid posting that was awarded to a company because he (the councilor) had a friend that he would have told about the bid if he had known… those bids are posted on the city’s website, and are public information. The councilor has made statements about being upset that the mayor won’t assign him a seat on the 4A and 4B boards, which he can’t sit on as a councilor. He could only be a liaison, which is a non-voting member (and in fact, the meeting is open to the public, he could go if he wanted) Someone claiming to be the councilor’s fiancée has also made statements on the page that if there is a “mole” in the Facebook group, they would come after them.

    • Pratt on Texas says

      You seem to be justifying government censorship because you disagree with the opinions of the man. How does that work? Because you, and maybe me too, don’t agree with him or what he says he should be subject to government restraint? Frightening! If he discloses information in a manner that does not comply with the law he is already subject to punishment for such.

      • I didn’t agree or disagree in the comment… but the story, as posted, leaves “the other side” of the story out. “Listener Barry” may or may not have known what is said in that group too, i have no idea. And boy is there a lot you haven’t seen.

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