Facebook posts by a Monterey Alderman sparked talks of social media policy Monday night among the Monterey Board of Alderman.
Alderwoman Julie Bohannon presented deleted posts and comments from other users on Alderman J.J Reels’ personal Facebook. Bohannon said deleting opposing views denies first amendment rights and breaks the city’s social media policy.
“We are sworn to uphold the policies, ordinances and the laws of our town,” Bohannon said. “This is misleading to our constitutes, and they need to know and have full transparency.”
The comment deletion in question was in regard to Reels’ post about partnering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to place flags on about 600 graves. Reels said in the post one family did not receive a flag. A Facebook user commented more than one family did not receive a flag, and Reels was not telling the whole story. According to Bohannon, the comment was deleted minutes after being posted.
The policy states employees representing Monterey must conduct themselves in an appropriate matter online at all times. Reels said the policy in question does not pertain to personal Facebook pages but only to city-owned sites. Reels said personal Facebook posts and deletions fall under first amendment rights.
“It has been all the way to the Supreme Court that you can say what you want to and not be impugned for having that stuff,” Reels said. “I do not say anything bad. She was bringing up deleting comments, well it is on my personal page.”
According to Reels, the city’s social media policy was never approved. Reels said discussing his personal Facebook in the meeting was a personal attack.
“I just think this is ridiculous this is even brought up,” Reels said. “This is not the proper form for something like that. You do not bring personal stuff like that in a meeting. It is a personal attack, because I am running for mayor.”
Bohannon said she disagreed with Reels. She said the meeting was the only time to discuss social media policy among the board.
“This was the right place,” Bohannon said. “All of us together at the same time and just a good remainder of social media. We all needed to see this is out there.”
The policy also states Monterey supports the First Amendment and encourages open discussion on topics impacting the city.