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Posts published in “Day: April 9, 2015”

Free speech on city social media

frazier DAVID


Mike Murphy isn’t a quiet kinda guy. He will let you know how he feels right off the bat, just like he did on a Boise Police Facebook page a couple of years ago when he was critical of a copper.

The issue — which dealt with Murphy’s treatment as a taxi driver — is mostly forgotten, but his unfriendly comments got him blocked by BPD. He was also blocked from the Mayor’s site when he was critical of Hizzoner. None of the comments were profane, libelous, or slander…just critical. Murphy is now a BSU student.

Murphy recently shared an account of a series of events in HONOLULU where the argument was made that in these days of social media and digital communication, a PUBLIC page like Facebook or Twitter is common communication and subject to the First Amendment protection of free speech. In short, Facebook is little different than standing on the corner or attending a council meeting and voicing one’s opinion. Note: this discussion regards government operated sites, not private sites like the GUARDIAN or personal pages.

The GUARDIAN talked with Chief Bill Bones who talked with Murphy and City legal staff regarding free speech. Bones subsequently has instructed that EVERYONE who was ever blocked from commenting be reinstated on the PD Facebook pages. Legal tells us they have, “ensured all departments (including the mayor’s office) are up to speed on the issue.”

Both Murphy and Bones offered essentially the same quote about each other: “He seems like a very decent person and it’s good to have a public forum conducted in a civil manner.”

The GUARDIAN checked with other agencies and found a surprisingly tolerant attitude regarding website comments. Idaho State Police tell us only a couple of people have been banned for “inappropriate” postings (such as a photo of a child in a lewd conduct case). Meridian coppers have encouraged a “lively discourse” as long as there are no threats or other illegal conduct such as slander and libel. Ada County follows the same guidelines.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Highway funding bill still moving around (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Crapo takes hest on federal lands vote (IF Post Register)
Lewiston Port plans layoffs after container loss (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman moves to make parks ADA compliant (Moscow News)
Army vets still see long wait for VA health (Nampa Press Tribune)
Deer Flat management plan signed (Nampa Press Tribune)
AG investigating Pocatello city finances (Pocatello Journal)

Eugene school chief applying for Roseburg job (Eugene Register Guard)
Medford police found justified in shooting (Medford Tribune)
Feds consider re-listing spotted owl as endangered (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
Pendleton ag research may lose federal money (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Hayes role in state policy had Kitzhaber OK (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State schools leader Saxton will quit in June (Portland Oregonian)
Long delays still there for VA patients (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Swinomish sue BNSF on oil rail issues (Bellingham Herald)
WA snowpack running a fifth of normal (Bellingham Herald)
Seattle help for addicts, prostitutes has worked (Bellingham Herald)
Harrison hospital whistleblower gets $1.38m (Bremerton Sun)
Long wait times still persist at VA (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Longview News)
Heroin use extending more to teens (Everett Herald)
Detailed Oso landslide map approved at legislature (Everett Herald)
Pasco starts school superintendent hunt (Kennewick Herald)
Mental illness focus of legislators' plan (Olympian)
Inslee rejects pay part of GOP budget (Olympian)
House passes gun notification bill (Spokane Spokesman)
Cantwell urges new rules on oil transport (Vancouver Columbian)