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  • Last modified 71 days ago (Sept. 13, 2017)

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Robson targets political social media

Staff writer

Commissioner Dianne Novak’s social media account came under fire from county counselor Susan Robson on Monday.

Novak said a confidential memo from Robson in commissioners’ packets addressing social media was aimed at her.

“It appears to me as though it’s directed to me and my Facebook page,” Novak said. “I am not by any means confidential. I am totally transparent. I have the Facebook page, I will keep the Facebook page. I appreciate this attachment, but I am not an employee.”

Robson did not challenge Novak’s assertion that the memo was aimed at her.

Novak provided the newspaper with a copy of the memo. It states four concerns from the Kansas Association of Counties: accidental meetings, creating a governmental record, violating confidentiality, and defamation.

It included attachments of social media policies for employees privately and for county-sponsored pages and accounts.

Novak said she uses her private computer from her home, and also lists her cell phone number and personal email for her constituents.

“It is an excellent tool for me to reach out to them for their opinions, suggestions, and concerns,” Novak said. “It’s just valuable to me.”

“OK,” Robson said.

Novak said the employee social media policy does not apply to her.

“So you’re not an employee?” commissioner Randy Dallke asked Novak.

“I am not a county employee, I am an elected official,” Novak said.

“OK,” Dallke said.

“I did search the attorney general website and there is nothing on there against social media with elected officials, except I can’t ask for money,” Novak said.

Robson said it is a gray area, but she tends to think that commissioners are elected officials and not employees. She did say she agreed that Novak cannot ask for money.

“I don’t think I’d be doing my job if I didn’t want to make you aware of there is a possibility for liability for the county and there’s possibility of liability for you personally,” Robson said.

“We’re in a sue-happy world,” Novak said. “I understand that, but I do thank you for bringing some of these points out.”

The employee policies include bans on “engaging in name calling or behavior that will reflect negatively on the county’s reputation or make county employees feel fearful, intimidated, embarrassed, or harassed in the workplace,” “speaking disrespectfully about the county and its current and potential employees, clients, customers, and affiliates,” as well as “posting comments related to the employee’s work or subjects associated with the county, without explicitly stating that the comments are not made on behalf of the county.”

Her Facebook page, “Novak’s Notes,” includes her thoughts on issues discussed at commission meetings and comments from people in the county.

“I don’t believe this applies to me, and therefore I don’t believe it should be confidential,” Novak said. “I will not hide behind confidential stuff. I do everything publicly. My Facebook page has been exceedingly successful.”

Last modified Sept. 13, 2017

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