Bad blood between Green Mountain Falls' Mayor Lorrie Worthey and five of six trustees came to a head June 4 over the town's electronic-media policy.
At issue is the mayor's use of her Facebook account as well as her blog to offer personal opinions, and in some postings, stir up controversy.
In reviewing the resolution, trustee Margaret Peterson highlighted the issues that concern the board. “Don't post things that were said in executive session. Don't stir the pot. Don't put only half of the story on there,” she said. “I think that's the gist of where the policy needs to go.”
From there, the meeting descended into a rant, with four of the trustees calling out the mayor for her social-media postings. As Worthey struggled to control the meeting, gavel in hand, mayor pro tem, Jane Newberry, led the charge. “You certainly have every right to put everything you want on your blog but I would respectfully ask that you take down `Green Mountain Falls Mayor',” she said.
With the “mayor” moniker, Worthey represents the town, Newberry added. “And I personally have been hurt and offended at the conjectures; I'm tired of going to the post office, the grocery store or getting phone calls in the middle of the night having people telling me what horrible things are said about me when I really spend a lot of time and effort on the town,” Newberry said. “I think it's a shame we need to put rules in place to `play well with others.'”
While Newberry has said she doesn't personally read Worthey's blog, others have and report the postings.
Trustee Margaret Peterson was next, referring to the postings and chain of replies. “I'm the new person here but I've already been hit with it. Hey, stop with the pitchfork, stop with the mentality of us not being good people,” she said. “I don't like being judged about the job I'm doing here by people who don't know me. I'm here to represent the town, am a second-generation council member.”
Trustee Tyler Stevens stayed away from controversy, only expressing concern about creating more paperwork with more policies.
On the other hand, trustee Howard Price dove in, addressing his remarks to the board. “I don't like personal attacks; freedom of speech is one thing, personal attack is another. I will be happy to explain to anybody about why I vote the way I do.”
Worthey responded. “I'm telling you right now; we cannot censure people simply for what they say,” she said. “I know that this policy is directed at my Facebook and my blog and I want to go on record tonight that I will continue to express my opinion; that is my First Amendment right.”
She continued. “If you continue to censure me then I will be the most censured mayor in the state of Colorado,” she said. “But I am not going to stop.”
After all the rancor and verbal shots, the board voted 5-1 to adopt the policy, which includes the stipulation that social-media users are personally responsible for the content of their electronic postings. In voting to oppose the motion, Worthey said, “No. No way.”
The policy makes clear that a website will be the official site for the town. “There will be an official Green Mountain Falls website and you will get lots of information on that,” Price said.
By the next morning, Worthey had changed her moniker from “mayor” to “citizen” and included a posting that the board had failed to approve a request from Police Chief Tim Bradley for a service dog for the department. Several negative comments about the denial followed Worthey's posting.
Still bruised over the meeting the night before, Worthey said, “This is the 21st century. Mayors all over the place are using social media. To try and censure and limit communication by social media is ridiculous.”