Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

City Superviser Blog Vs Newspaper

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly and the SF Chronicle have a long running feud, so Daly starts his own blog to reach the public directly. Great! But he's using taxpayer supplied equipment to do it. Is that a problem? Legally it is only a problem if he uses the blog for political campaigning, not public communication. But laws like this tend to show how stupid laws can sometimes be. Seriously, what can a politician do that isn't for political gain, that isn't campaign related in one sense or another? Legally, it would make much more sense if our representatives were simply given a small budget for communication and that was that. Don't worry if it is political self promotion or not, at some level it will be anyway. Again, laws that try to micromanage just don't work very well.

This reminds me of the injured reserved (IR) list in the NBA. Teams are only allowed to have 12 active players, but up to three injured additional players may be on the IR list. So what happens? Every team has a few extra players that have "back spasms" or some other such injury that always miraculously cures just when another player is taken off the roster to place on the IR. In other words, every team cheats and everyone knows every team cheats. Just drop the dang injury requirement and have a reserved list!

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, here is what the Chronicle says about Daly's blog:
Daly is the first of the city's elected officials to create a blog, short for Web log, and do it on the government's dime by using San Francisco's official Web site -- a move that's caused City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office to start drafting a list of dos and don'ts.
The supervisor joins the likes of Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who launched a blog in February, and East Bay Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, who in October became the first state legislator in California to start a Web log.

In both their cases, their blogs are not part of a government Web site.

Ethical and Internet experts say Daly will have to walk a fine line with his new online journal.

"Anybody who does this has to be careful not to cross into campaign territory," said John St. Croix, who took over as executive director of the Ethics Commission about six months ago.
And here is what Daly says in response:
But today the Chronicle did weigh in under the headline "Public picks up tab for Daly blog - District 6 supervisor first official to keep diary on city's dime" (they have since softened the headline online). Talk about obscuring the issue. In order to avoid discussing policy issues that I have raised or even covering the enhanced content of this site, the Chronicle has decided to attack me yet again (yawn), implying that I am misusing public funds. Without making specific allegations, Ilene Lelchuk writes about the possible legal issues of government web sites. "Questions remain then about whether the city can be held liable for postings on the blog or for any links listed on Daly's Web site that take visitors to noncity Web sites." Ilene, do you mean, for example, my links to your venerable publication?

City Attorney spokesperson, Matt Dorsey, tells me that the Chronicle had inquired to their office about any wrongdoing but that there was none.
If I were Daly, I'd move the blog to a private site just to avoid any potential legal issues. It's not like it's hard -- I don't pay for my site!

(Via Wizbang!)