Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Heads I win. Tails, who's your Daddy now" | #becauserochester

"Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" 
A device whereby, if things turn out one way, your system accounts for them - and if they turn out another way, your system accounts for them. 
- Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History

You are a Shit Spotter. It's satisfying work. … We have observed that most of the trouble in the world has been caused by ten to twenty percent of folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus. Now your virus is an obligate cellular parasite and my contention is that evil is quite literally a virus parasite occupying a certain brain area which we may term the RIGHT center. The mark of a basic shit is that he has to be right. And right here we must make a diagnostic distinction between the hard-core virus-occupied shit and a plain, ordinary, mean no-good son of a bitch. Some of these sons of bitches don't cause any trouble at all, just want to be left alone. 
- William S. Burroughs, The Place of Dead Roads

It appears the City will take up it's botched social media policy without fixing what botched it or holding any hearings regarding it. But it will have its way. Check the agenda packet [pp. 300 -338] for Monday's [04.17.2017] council meeting.

The City attorney attaches a court ruling [pp. 337 - 338] that addresses public employees (which was not a point of contention) but nothing that address appointees to boards and commissions - which was a point of contention. Of course, the City has every right and the responsibility to oversee the use of its own social media. The City can also hold its public employees accountable for their personal social media conduct - though with protections not afforded to persons in private employment. The cited case is mute with regard to appointees to boards and commissions who, as unpaid volunteers, can hardly be regarded as public employee.

But wait for the coin toss:

"There are numerous references within these Organizational Polices to the term 'employees.' To the extent possible and in light of the fact that members of City boards, commissions, and committees are unpaid volunteers rather than employees in the strict definition of that term, the term “employees” does include unpaid volunteer members of City boards, commissions, and committees."

How does that sentence even make sense? Since members are "unpaid volunteers rather than employees" we will include them as "employees".

So: "unpaid volunteer members of City boards, commissions, and committees" are "employees".

The city then returns to its peculiar use of the category "City representative". Apparently not realizing that this bit of doublespeak is no longer necessary. It was used in the prior draft to introduce a new category the City would employ to encompass the unpaid volunteers whose personal speech it so desperately wants to restrain. This device is no longer required since the City has now simply asserted that "unpaid volunteers" are "employees" of the City.

Anyway here it is:
This policy applies to any existing or proposed social media websites sponsored, established, registered or authorized by the City. This policy also covers the private use of the City’s social media accounts by all City Representatives. For purposes of this policy, the term “City Representatives” includes all City employees, agents (i.e. independent contractors), Council members, and appointed board or commission members and all volunteers

So: since appointed board and commission members are "unpaid volunteers" and thus "employees" of the City. Therefore, the City can treat them as it can "employees" and subject them to constraints and sanctions upon their use of personal social media.

I believe this is known as "heads I win, tails who's your daddy now.'"

Also it doesn't pass unnoticed that striking of "the City's" from social media now extends the scope to - one presumes - any and all social media.

'Some people are shits, darling.' - William S. Burroughs


How about this as a policy for appointed members to City boards, etc.:

First of all, the City thanks you for your service and the important contribution you make to the civic life of our community. Regarding the City's social media policy, please note the following: 
When you make use of the City's social media, you are subject to the City's social media guidelines. 
Additionally, the city suggests that during your tenure of voluntary service to the City and its residents, if you have identified yourself as a member of a City board, etc. on your personal social media sites, it is good practice to also include this statement: “These are my own opinions and do not represent those of the City.” We encourage you to follow this practice. 
Thank you again for your service.

Oh yeah, one more thing.

Dear Mr/Mrs./Ms. Mayor:

If ever I apply for appointment to a City board, commission, or committee: "These are my own opinions and do not represent those of the City." Obviously.