Letter: Good Town Governance Requires Civility

To the Editor:
In recent weeks certain Town officials took to social media to defend and clarify the administration’s position on the Huntington Farmer’s Market and the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society’s cancellation of the MusicFest.

These posts, appearing on the Town’s governmental Facebook page and elsewhere on social media, carried personal attacks on the longtime operator of the Huntington Farmer’s Market and the president of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society.

The posts were inappropriate.

Moreover, they violated the Town’s own social media policy.

That policy states that the Town “welcomes public comments as a means of furthering sharing of ideas and advancing public dialogue” but deems inappropriate and subject to removal comments that fall into a number of objectionable categories, including comments that make “defamatory
or personal attacks.”

Indeed, social media presents challenges for individuals, businesses and government.

For government, a major imperative should be to foster civil discourse in our modern public forum. And that imperative begins with government setting the example of how to achieve that.

We join those who have contacted us in recent weeks to register their disappointment over these unfortunate Town posts. And, we sincerely regret the harm done to those who were the subject of these unwarranted attacks, and as we have since learned, often untruthful characterizations.

Ironically, just last week the Town Board unanimously approved a revised employee code of conduct that specifically defines and prohibits cyberbullying and states that the Town “seeks to promote a climate of mutual respect and dignity for all employees and interns.”

Don’t our residents deserve the same courtesies and protections?

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