BIZ X MAGAZINE – May 9, 2019
Complaint maintains Dilkens’ penchant for blocking constituents on social media contravenes the Discreditable Conduct section of Windsor’s Code of Conduct.
Windsor resident and downtown business owner Jon Liedtke says he plans to file an official complaint with the city’s Integrity Commissioner over Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens “blocking” his constituents on social media. The complaint maintains Dilkens is in violation of Section 15, or the Discreditable Conduct provision, of the city’s Code of Conduct, as outlined by the Integrity Commissioner’s Advisory bulletin dated Nov. 1, 2016.
The advisory makes it abundantly clear that “as a general rule, Members of Council should not block or unfriend members of the public from social media platforms.” The advisory stipulates that blocking constituents without sufficient cause could prompt a complaint of misconduct for violating the Discreditable Conduct section of the act.
The complaint also seeks to determine ownership over councillor and mayoral social media pages.
“Blocking someone on Twitter or Facebook has a deleterious effect on the ability of constituents to meaningfully and earnestly engage with their political representatives. It is the social media equivalent of saying you will no longer take their phone calls or even the letters they address to City Hall. What’s even worse is that blocking someone prevents them from seeing important bulletins and statements issued by the mayor in his official capacity.” – Jon Liedtke
Liedtke points out the follow examples.
A-1) Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has blocked me and other Windsor residents on social media, preventing us from engaging with him on issues of vital interest to this community.
A-2) Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has blocked me and several others from his Twitter account – @mayordrewdilkens – which he uses in his capacity as an official representative for the City of Windsor. That account had 6,728 followers on May 8, 2018 and had tweeted 1,966 times.
A-3) Both @mayordrewdilkens (https://twitter.com/drewdilkens) and the official Mayoral Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/drewdilkens/) are used by both the Mayor and city staff to post important issues to residents of Windsor.
A-4) Banning constituents from a Twitter account prevents them from having meaningful and earnest democratic interactions with that page. When someone is banned from a Facebook page they are no longer able to publish to that page; like or comment on that page’s posts, message that page or even like that page. Banning constituents on either platform has a deleterious effect on the ability of constituents to meaningfully and earnestly engage with their political representatives. It is the social media equivalent of saying you will no longer take their phone calls or even the letters they address to City Hall. What’s even worse is that blocking someone prevents them from seeing important bulletins and statements issued by the mayor in his official capacity.
A-6) The Advisory Bulletin issued by the Integrity Commissioner November 1, 2016 defines “trolling” as “being repeatedly and intentionally rude and disrespectful on social media” and/or acting “in bad faith to harass other users of the platform.” The Advisory stresses, in bold type: “Members must still be mindful that mere disagreement is not trolling and is not appropriate reason to block a member of the public.”
A-7) The Advisory Bulletin issued by the Integrity Commissioner November 1, 2016 correctly states there is no provision in the Code of Conduct dealing directly with the issue of social media blocking, and that Section 15, the Discreditable Conduct section, is the most relevant section: “All members of Council have a duty to treat members of the public, one another and staff appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.”
A-8) This complaint also seeks clarity on the ownership of the Mayor’s official Facebook page and Twitter accounts. Is it a page for the office of the mayor, not the man, that will continue to exist as the official mayoral page when and if a different mayor is elected? (Donald Trump has a personal Twitter account, for example, but also an official account aligned with the office, not the man.) Or will the page, and all the followers it has amassed over the years, remain the property of Drew Dilkens? These questions touch on issues of whether city staff should be updating the page and what could reasonably be considered to constitute partisan posts, particularly as the October municipal election nears.
A-9) I request that this complaint investigation and report be expedited due to the impact of section 12 of the Complaints Protocol which prevents the Integrity Commissioner from reporting on this complaint after June 30, 2018. I believe that my right to engage with my sitting Mayor and Councillors must be considered and a recommendation made before the fall election as a fundamental element of my democratic rights as a voter.