County Clerk's Facebook Page Goes Offline As New Policy Developed | WGLT

County Clerk's Facebook Page Goes Offline As New Policy Developed

Nov 15, 2018

UPDATED 3:20 p.m. | The McLean County clerk’s Facebook page has been taken down for “reconstruction” as county officials work on a new social media policy.

It’s unclear when the page went offline. It apparently happened sometime after Election Day on Nov. 6, when Republican Kathy Michael won re-election over Democratic challenger Nikita Richards. A dead link to the page remains on the clerk’s webpage on the McLean County website.

GLT asked Michael this week what happened to the page.

“FB page is under re-construction; won't be available for 6 months; working with IT and Admin. on improvements ideas, etc.,” Michael said in an email. She declined to further explain the removal.

It’s apparently connected to a larger re-evaluation of how county employees and elected officials use social media.

“During the County Board committee cycle last month, we discussed a timeline for implementation of a social media policy that included the start of policy development in December, after the completion of the budget cycle and the completion of a website format upgrade,” McLean County Administrator Bill Wasson said in an email. “I believe that Ms. Michael’s statements refer to the county’s expected implementation of a formal social media policy over the next several months, which was communicated to the committee.”

Prior to its removal, the Facebook page provided news and updates regarding the work provided by the clerk's office, including vital records, elections, tax extension, and recording. The clerk's Twitter account remained live Thursday but was deleted after this story was published.

“We take advantage of social media which provides information and transparency at little to no cost to taxpayers of McLean County,” reads a message still on the clerk’s webpage.

Michael’s online activities became a point of contention during her re-election campaign. She faces a pending ethics investigation—prompted by a complaint from a Richards supporter—into her online activity on county-owned computers. The local Democrats who sought to unseat her also claimed Michael improperly blocked users from the clerk’s official (non-campaign) Facebook page, including McLean County Democratic Party chair Erik Rankin, an outgoing County Board member.

Michael won re-election on Nov. 6 with 55 percent of the vote.

While the county’s elected officials have generally been given wider latitude in setting and enforcing their own policies, Wasson told GLT in October that the intent of any new policy would be to cover all county employees.

“Policies that the County Board have adopted historically encompass all county employees and their departments and their responsibilities.” Wasson said.

Wasson said he expects the staff will have a policy drafted for the County Board to consider in early 2019.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.