Social media resolution passes unanimously

A resolution to increase the city’s use of online media formats unanimously passed the Fayetteville City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

By passing the resolution, city staff is requested to craft a communication strategy that includes using burgeoning media outlets.

Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty, who authored the resolution, acknowledged that Mayor Lioneld Jordan had begun using facebook and twitter, but he said those efforts only “scratched the surface.”

Petty suggested a few applications for the strategy, such as incorporating online public comments into the record and making all memoranda by city staff immediately available to the public.

Concerns of access to social media tools were expressed both by aldermen and members of the public. One public commenter said the resolution was “exclusionary” and to adopt it would be “to ignore a huge portion of our population” because not everybody in Fayetteville has a computer.

Fran Alexander was also among the members of the public to speak against the resolution. It’s a “matter of manners,” she said, and aldermen should not be distracted with their computers at a council meeting. While addressing the council, Alexander referenced an editorial she had in the Northwest Arkansas Times, where she called this measure a “pro-rudeness resolution.”

Kyle Cook, alderman for Ward 2, said using social media would not limit the access to public information, but rather it is “just another vehicle to get the information out there.”

Council member Rhoads agreed.

“The city shouldn’t slow itself down,” he said.

Also, the city council struck down an ordinance that would have established a review panel for marijuana policy. Petty proposed this ordinance to follow up with what the voters decided in November, he said.

In the last election, Fayetteville voters passed a measure that set adult possession of marijuana as the lowest priority for the police.

Greg Tabor, chief of police, spoke against the ordinance. Misdemeanor marijuana charges were a low priority before November and remain so, he said. The panel would only take more staff’s time and resources, he continued.

Before the vote, Mayor Jordan said despite the outcome, he would be willing to be advised on the issue.

It failed with a 1-7 vote.