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Board suspends City of Dresden’s Facebook page

City of Dresden Board meeting

Pictured are (from left) City Attorney Beau Pemberton, Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn and City Recorder Jennifer Branscum.

By Shannon Taylor, Press Reporter

During Dresden’s May City Board Meeting a motion was passed to suspend the city’s Facebook page for 90 days. The motion came after many of the alderman were contacted about Mayor Jeff Washburn’s name calling and comments between him and residents on the page which had caused quite a bit of controversy between the public and Washburn.

Alderman Ralph Cobb asked, “Can we fix the city web page so that it’s just for informational purposes only – not for communication?”

Washburn responded with saying that he thought it was a great idea.

Alderman Lyndal Dilday said, “I think we need to unblock everyone from the city’s page.”

Washburn said “I’m going to tell you something Alderman: when they start telling lies about me and the reason I got divorced on the city’s webpage, it places you as an alderman, in jeopardy of being sued for defamation just as it does that person sitting in West Virginia or whether it’s sitting in the back of this room here tonight. The city when it republishes defamation, the city becomes liable for a defamation suit and most of those people were blocked.”

The mayor went on to say that some of the users were blocked because they were a “non-person,” “operating under false identities,” one user’s Facebook page had been hacked and he had never even been on the city’s page and other users were using foul language. However, the Press spoke with several people that said that they were blocked from the city’s page for reasons other than the ones the mayor listed.

After this discussion, Alderman Sandra Klutts stated that she would make a motion to remove the city mayor as administrator of the city’s Facebook page.

Washburn told her, “You can do that, but you get ready because unless you’re gonna police it and take care of the defamation and stuff that takes place, you’re going to place yourself as an alderman at stake in any possible consequences.”
City Attorney Beau Pemberton interjected stating he had an alternative suggestion which was to suspend the Facebook page. Pemberton stated that, “It has become a persistent problem, people using social media – it’s easy to create profiles to hide behind a screen name and an alternative profile to attack people.”

Pemberton failed to point out that a lot of the attacks on social media towards people were made by Washburn himself as he went on the attack calling residents “ignorant,” “stupid,” “drama queens” and “pathetic.” Many people who attended the meeting in person as well as those who listened to a Facebook livestream of the meeting last night felt that Pemberton and the Alderman made it sound more like it was the citizens fault for the attacks on the city’s page instead of Washburn’s and felt like the suspension of the page was more of a “band aid” than fixing the actual problem.

When The Press spoke with aldermen concerning the matter and if they thought that the right thing was done in suspending the page and if they thought that would fix the mayor’s comments back and forth with residents, Cobb and Dilday responded that they thought it was the best way to handle it at this time.

Klutts said that she knows that people might be upset with the board and that she hopes that people will come forward at the meetings in the future to speak on matters that they think the board needs to address or contact the alderman by phone or email if they have any issues that they want brought up. “We can’t do everything ourselves. Citizens need to speak up.” Klutts responded that she thought that the suspension of the city’s Facebook page was “probably” the best route to go to stop the comments back and forth between the mayor and the citizens of the community. “Under the circumstances it may have been the best because I have to believe that the city attorney recommended that, that he felt that’s the way we should go. And if that’s not the right way then I’d make another motion and he’s the one that spoke up and said we should do it another way.”

When asked if it should have been brought up that the mayor’s insults to residents on the city’s Facebook page were making the city look bad, Klutts responded with “Yes.” She said she knew that people felt let down and encouraged them to contact their alderman.

Citizens can contact the alderman via email. Alderman Klutts can be contacted at sklutts43@gmail.com. Alderman Kenneth Moore can be contacted at moores3@frontiernet.net. Alderman. Alderman Cobb can be contacted at Ralph.Cobb@tn.gov. Alderman Dilday can be contacted at lmdilday@gmail.com. Alderman Gwin Anderson and Alderman Willie Parker can be contacted at webmaster@cityofdresden.net.

2 Comments

  1. Billy Ted Little on May 3, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Well written. Idk what’s going on up there, but I do know transparency is the answer.

  2. Mark on May 10, 2022 at 9:17 pm

    Is it really the best policy to have the journalist that had a dispute with an elected official covering the dispute with the same elected official?

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