Minneapolis councilwoman releases names & contact information of constituents who disagreed

Elected officials are frequently contacted by constituents who agree or disagree with them on issues.  This is totally normal, expected and healthy.  Frankly, I wish I was contacted more by constituents, even those who disagree, because at least that would mean that people were paying attention!

Anyway, when a constituent contacts an elected official, it is totally reasonable to expect a response from that official, with the elected in question explaining their position.  What should never be expected, of course, is that the elected official releases the private correspondence from a constituent – along with that constituents name and contact information.

Yet, in Minneapolis, that is exactly what happened.

Council member Alondra Cano appeared at a Black Lives Matter rally last week.  Stephen Dent, a previous supporter of Councilwoman Cano, wrote to the Councilwoman to complain, saying that she was unfit to serve office because of her attendance at the rally.  Cano then tweeted out the letter that Dent wrote, along with his name and contact information.  The councilwoman did the same to others – here’s an example:

Dent, understandably, was less than pleased, as are others.  For her part, Councilwoman Cano has not responded to inquiries from the media about the issue.


It is important to note that what Councilwoman Cano did is not illegal.  State open records laws do not prohibit the releasing of personal information or constituent correspondence.  That being said, this is insane.  Unquestionably, some of the Emails that the Councilwoman chose to publicize is disgusting and a poor example of how to influence an elected official.  That being said, like it or not, people have a right to (within broad limits) say whatever they want to an elected official.  It is inappropriate for an elected official to release contact information of people who contact them. This can easily be interpreted as an attempt to intimate and silence constituents who disagree, even if that wasn’t the intent.


Tweets and Consequences

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Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, takes to Facebook to call President Obama a Muslim

Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone!  Here’s how we’ll be starting the social media day.

Bruce Hagen is the Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin (population about 27,000).  Hagen, in response to a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote the following on Facebook:

“Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”

Ahh, so we’re going with the “Obama is a Muslim” meme again, I see.  That’s lovely.

Needless to say, the city’s residents and other elected officials were not amused.  Five City Councilors called for Mayor Hagen to resign in the wake of his remarks, with Councilors calling the remarks “inappropriate.”  Mayor Hagen, for his part, refuses to resign, saying: “Am I gonna resign? Absolutely not. If the people of this community feel otherwise, they will vote me out of office.”

The standard response of Hagen’s remarks, from defenders, is probably something along the lines of “Free speech!”  They are right, of course – to a point.  The Mayor is, unquestionably, entitled to say whatever he wants (within certain broad limits) without fear of government repercussions.  But here’s the thing: Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your speech, and elected officials are, as I’ve said a thousand times, held to a higher standard for the content of their remarks.  Indeed, this was best elucidated by City Councilor Graham Garfield, who said, “”Sure he’s entitled to free speech.  But elected officials are held accountable for stupid things they do and say.”

Tweets and Consequences

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

See you next week!

UPDATE: Wow, hi, this entry always does well during Christmas. Neat! Anyway, I haven’t updated this blog in a while. Instead, I regularly blog about mental health and depression here.

I also wrote a young adult, science fiction, mental health book called Redemption. It’s about depression, anxiety and saving the world.

Ms. Puerto Rico stripped of title after anti-Muslim tweets

Destiny Velez was Miss Puerto Rico 2015…until a series of anti-Muslim tweets cost her the title.

Here’s what happened: As you may be aware, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted a photograph of himself, outside of the Trump Towers, with a sign that said, “We are all Muslim”:


This started a popular movement and hashtag…one which, of course, was not universally loved.  One such person who was not a fan was Mrs. Velez, who tweeted:

This did not go well, to put it politely.  As a result of these tweets, Velez was “indefinitely suspended” by the Miss America Organization.  Velez then issued this statement of apology:

“I apologize to the people I have offended with my words. I am first and foremost an #UpStander and as such I stand up against bullying. The last thing I wanted to do was to bully anyone. Again, I apologize to anyone who felt offended with my words.”

Velez has since deleted not only these tweets, but her entire Twitter account, as well as her accounts on Instagram and Tumblr.

Moore gave a video response to the tweets.  What a mess.

donald trump

Donald Trump adviser shares hateful – and false – video

An adviser Donald Trump makes the blog today, as opposed to Trump himself.  The issue in question is this tweet, sent by Daniel Scavino, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump:

That’s a pretty damning video, which, if true, would seem to buttress the arguments made by Trump about rejecting Syrian refugees.  That being said, here’s the thing: It’s a complete and total lie.  As noted by Buzzfeed, the video “actually shows Salafist Muslims protesting an intentionally provocative rally held by an extreme right-wing group in Germany.”

So, in other words, Mr. Scavino took an out of context video and made it even more out of context.  Shocking that such a thing would happen for a campaign adviser for Trump, but oh well.

I’d say that sending out this tweet was clearly an error and an apology would surely be forthcoming, but this is the Trump campaign, so we know that isn’t going to happen.  Heck, perhaps Mr. Scavino knowingly sent out this tweet – very little about the Trump campaign would surprise me anymore.

Now, that being said, one point: Campaign advisers are generally best sticking to the script and not outshining their bosses – or taking away the media spotlight from them.  Again, perhaps this was the latest despicable tactic in Trump’s overall campaign strategy, but it must be remembered that anything posted by a campaign employee or adviser on social media will viewed as an extension of the candidate themselves.


Soccer league allows for creation of offensive and racist twitter badges

The UEFA is the Union of European Football Associations, one of the major soccer leagues in Europe.  Tickets went on sale for the league’s championships, and to celebrate and promote, the UEFA ran a Twitter promotional campaign which allows for users to have their Twitter handle automatically merged into a graphic with the country of their choice in order to show their support.  The created images were then tweeted out by a bot from the UEFA twitter account.

This was a bad idea:



If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that: It has happened before, to the New England Patriots, when a bot allowed for the creation of racist team uniforms.

Anyway, the UEFA apparently deleted some of these tweets, but obviously too late.  The lesson?  You can’t crowdsource and automate the approval and creation of images which also have your brand name on them.  Doing so is an open invitation for trolls who want to sully your good name with their own bad one.  Too bad.


Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

Washington Redskins tweet exposes astroturfing effort

I’ve written about the Washington Redskins and their social media fails before, including the recent tone-deaf tweet in which they wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving – never mind the fate of the Indians who they continue to insult with their name.

Anyway, the Redskins are back at it again, this time with their Twitter account for Redskins Facts, whose biography says that the account and website is “a growing online community of passionate Washington Redskins fans.”

Oh, fans?  Really?  Check out this mistake, caught by Washington Post reporter Dan Steinberg:

Photo: Dan Steinberg/Washington Post

Photo: Dan Steinberg/Washington Post

An identical tweet was posted to the Redskins Facts account, then deleted, only to be reposted to the Washington Redskins account.  What does that likely mean?  The same staffer has access to both accounts and tweeted to the wrong account.  A careless mistake, but a common one – and a pretty serious screw-up, as it exposes the truth behind the Redskins Facts account.

This is a classic example of astroturfing, the term used for when a business or corporation attempts to create the illusion of grassroots support, when an entire advocacy effort is, in fact, controlled and funded by the corporation itself.

This is also a reason why transparency is so important on Twitter.  It’s pretty easy to make mistakes on the medium – most users who have been at it long enough have made these types of errors.  That being said, you can minimize the damage done with a screw-up like this if you are always honest and transparent.  Clearly, the Redskins do not hold either of these values as important!