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The way social media has taken over society today, it’s understandable that an organization like the city of Campbellsville would feel the need to have a policy related to its use by employees. However, we believe the policy could have been handled much differently.
First, it seems that Campbellsville City Council members who voted in favor of the new policy rushed to do so. The policy passed by a vote of 9-3, but the only public discussion about it was during the meeting where the issue was presented. In other instances, the city creates committees and talks over issues at length. It seems that with this issue, there was a rush to create a policy for the sake of having one.
Among the discussion points could be how to handle violations. It could involve anything from a reprimand to termination, and that’s fine. But what if the violation is severe, and comes from a Council member? They are elected, and cannot be fired. Just a thought, and one of many questions that arise when giving even brief thought to this new policy.
Next, and most importantly, the legality of the policy has some concerning issues. To have a statement made by City Attorney John Miller that city employees must give up some rights to be city employees is odd, but he said it.
“I guess to a certain extent, your freedom of speech is limited, if you want to have a job.” That statement was made by Miller at the June 4 meeting, and was printed in the News-Journal on June 11.
While we are not lawyers, it simply doesn’t appear to be fair that in order to have a job, a person would have to surrender some of the rights granted them by the United States Constitution.
The policy is no doubt intended to prohibit damaging information from being spread, but employees also cannot make mention of their employment with the city or even post positive information such as photos of themselves in a city uniform, according to the new policy. This type of ruling appears to actually limit some good aspects that could be shared about the city, such as a police officer who is proud to serve our city.
Limiting free speech and telling people what they can and cannot say doesn’t sound like a policy from a government, it sounds like a decree from a dictatorship. We don’t think that’s what the city of Campbellsville and its Council members intend, but the rush to pass this policy gives a bad impression.
Like many companies, including several in our community that have policies about social media use, the city should have taken the common sense approach and deal with violations when they arise, rather than coming out of the gate and telling people to prepare to give up the right to free speech if they want to continue to work for the government they elected to office in the first place.