I am writing as a concerned resident and business owner in North Kingstown. Residents of the town have numerous options as related to “local” social media groups. But as I’m sure you know, the substantive value of any statement or exchange made on these sites is determined not only by the content but, perhaps even more so, by the integrity of the messenger or medium. For example, some groups are titled in a manner that could be misconstrued by social media consumers as “official,” and yet they are designed as tools for the private interests of the organizer – which is to promote one’s own political agenda.
The “Our Town” Facebook group was formed by Councilor Ellen Waxman for the purpose of building a marketing platform to her constituents to serve her own political aspirations. That, by itself, is not a crime. However, Ms. Waxman, as a member of the Town Council, is using this as a platform to form public opinion around various town-related issues while concurrently exercising the right to censor those opinions that she deems in conflict with her own. She clearly has no issue with personally blocking and deleting open and respectful debate by group members, primarily North Kingstown residents. This is extremely concerning from an ethics perspective.
I strongly encourage residents to source official, unbiased information from the following sources: north kingstown.org, facebook.com/north.kingstown, twitter.com/NorthKings town.
Residents should treat any information regarding town business discussed in a social media platform other than those named above with an abundance of caution and skepticism.
As a financial planner, I believe our elected officials should be held to a fiduciary standard when it comes to the information they share and promote publicly. The information they share should honestly present both pros and cons without personal bias. At a minimum, we should be able to rely upon our elected officials to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and Ms. Waxman has failed in her understanding of the First Amendment and in her responsibility to her constituents in her own social media group.
Mary Brimer and Randy Wietman
Mary Brimer is a financial planner and resident of Saunderstown. Randy Wietman is a member of the North Kingstown Republican Town Committee and a resident of North Kingstown.