'Contentious' Facebook post sparks policy debate in Palatine Township
Palatine Township officials are calling for a township social media policy after what some say was a questionable reference to the coronavirus posted by Supervisor Sharon Langlotz-Johnson on the government's official Facebook page.
Township officials addressed social media guidelines in a teleconference meeting this week, the first gathering since Langlotz-Johnson's Facebook message.
"Palatine Township will not today, or any day, close our doors over the hysteria of the Coronavirus," Langlotz-Johnson wrote about two weeks ago. "We know people will need even more assistance because of businesses closing, people staying home from shopping, going out to eat, etc.
"We only ask people to use common sense at all times. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose to sneeze or cough, and if you do not feel well, do not come to Palatine Township. The 'KISS' method works best. Keep it simple s-----."
Highway Commissioner Aaron Del Mar and Clerk Lisa Moran criticized Langlotz-Johnson's phrasing in calling for a policy.
Moran said the message was "contentious" and she hasn't found the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic to be hysteria. The post should not have contained the "KISS" principle, she added.
But Langlotz-Johnson said her duties as supervisor include communicating with the public, including over the township Facebook page and website. She said there was nothing wrong with the coronavirus message, which she deleted because of the trolling and "very inappropriate" comments it attracted.
"There are a lot of policies that come forth from trustees on a regular basis," Langlotz-Johnson said. "Some I agree with, some I do not. Mostly, I do not agree with the ones that tie my hands to do my job."
Trustee Bill Pohlman declined to comment on the post in question but said it's time for the township to have formal guidelines for its social media channels. The township's posts should have a unified message, not individual opinion, he said.
"We've got policies for how to put stuff up on the website," Pohlman said. "We have policies on how to handle disgruntled people calling into or writing into the township. There's step-by-step policies on how to handle that. But there's really nothing on social media. That's something we're going to have to address, is really what it comes down to."
Del Mar said Langlotz-Johnson's coronavirus post on township social media gave the appearance that all officials agreed with it.
"When the supervisor or anybody ... unilaterally decides to start posting comments, those comments either should say, 'This only reflects the view of this elected official and not all of us,' or it should be viewed and approved by all the elected officials because it represents all of us," Del Mar said.
Langlotz-Johnson, a former police officer and township trustee who was elected supervisor in April 2013, said she believes in calling it as she sees it.
"I'm not someone who minces words and you know where I stand," she said. "That is the one thing that people have respect for me for, is people know exactly where I stand. I don't lie. I don't fabricate. I don't make things up. I don't exaggerate. This is the way it is and this is who I am and this is how I feel and people know it."