Healthcare? Who knows? Public comments? Absolutely not!
The public may not be able to comment on any of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health’s social media, but they can find an herbal remedy that claims to cure herpes, AIDS, cancer, and warts – all rolled into one!
Ironically, this remedy does not claim to cure or prevent COVID.
YES! Updated boosters provide additional protection against weakened immunity from a previous COVID-19 vaccine or booster received before last August. Boosters are especially recommended for adults over 65.
For more information visit pic.twitter.com/cPq2GIW8cV
— Los Angeles Public Health (@lapublichealth) March 6, 2023
Last year, LADPH shut down all public comment sections on all of its social networks – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. It also seems like they have “cleaned up” all the comments made up to this point.
Almost everything, i.e. the testimonials section on Facebook is still open for public posting. For the most part, the posts are advertisements that also give the department a “highly recommend”. There are a few generic “you are really bad at your job” human reviews that are not highly recommended, but the rest are touting cryptocurrency investments and various versions of the aforementioned herbal panacea.
It’s kind of funny, but for an agency that has banned all public comment and seems to take its social media presence very seriously, you’d think LADPH would be even a little concerned that their public health site has ads for absurd bogus medicines. Why they didn’t “clean up” these posts when they memorized actual comments from a real audience is unclear, although it can be assumed that the accompanying 5-star ratings, which greatly boost the overall average, give the highly controversial agency a 4.1 rating. Rating now – played a role in the decision to leave them alone.
Or, more likely, they are just idiots.
During the pandemic, LADPH was one of the most tyrannical and incompetent public health agencies in the country and caused untold damage to millions of residents and businesses in the South – just a few examples from around the world:
When you visit any of the department’s social media sites, you’ll find a variety of information—some accurate, some propaganda, some relevant, some—like a two-year-old YouTube video of department head Barbara Ferrer telling people how to clean fabric. the mask is both irrelevant and contradictory in itself.
On the sites, you will still find not only incidence rates, safety advice, and very superficial COVID-related chatter, but other public health “information” such as a reminder that teens can access free abortion services without parental consent.
It seems that the Twitter site allows certain people to comment – that is, anyone who is specifically mentioned in the tweet of the agency they are commenting on, which is very rare. This feature is a little rare, but it may have been inspired by a similar policy from the American Public Health Association. Pay attention – the positions of the agency for the most part coincide with the positions of the APHA – you can see for yourself that the crazy apple falls not far from the manipulation tree.
And just last week, when Ferrer was doing her weekly press briefing (yep, she’s still doing it), a reporter asked her why she was wearing a mask in a room with six – presumably vaccinated (though not quite) – people, she became very defensive, caustically replying that it is “inappropriate” to ask someone about the status of the mask.
It is clear that Ferrer has no idea what “surprisingly vile hypocrisy” means and that the mood within the agency is still panicky incoherent and incompetent.
Last August, the agency decided to stop public commenting by posting this notice on all of its social media pages:
This angered a Los Angeles County resident (she prefers to remain anonymous and the Globe will honor her request) who kept a close eye on the agency. Like many others, she commented on their actions and then wondered why the agency had seemingly arbitrarily cut off an important path for public comment.
“It goes against the goal of letting the public deal with important issues,” she said.
She then filed a request for public records, asking for information on how and why the decision was made.
In the end, the prosecutor’s office replied that the “response” (read, related to the topic of the question) documents do exist, but they do not see them. The county argued that the records fell under a couple of exceptions to the public records law—they were either confidential to attorney and client, or they were part of a “consultation process.” Her last rejection letter said:
“… the public interest served by the non-disclosure of the recording
clearly outweighs the public interest served by the release of the recordings.” Some of
the records you are looking for contain private, non-public information such as cellular
phone numbers or other secret, proprietary and/or confidential information.
Such information is not subject to disclosure and is not subject to disclosure.
First amendment experts say the agency has the right to shut down public comments, but are less certain that LADPH is not required to tell the public why.
David Loy, legal director of the Coalition for the First Amendment, said that by law, a public agency can decide whether or not to allow comments on their social media feeds. If so, then each point of view should be expressed – in other words, open means open to everyone, not just positive commentators, and closed means closed to everyone, not just negative commentators.
Why the agency refuses to explain its reasoning is a matter of concern. The California constitution specifically allows access to public records, and the standard for an exemption application should be as high as possible.
“The deliberative exception should be narrow and limited,” Loy said. The risk of exclusion is that it can be argued that it “hides information in which the public is very interested.”
To revoke the claimed exemption, the resident concerned must file a lawsuit, Loy said.
Given the agency’s actions during the pandemic, it is highly likely that comments were disabled because they were mostly negative and made LADPH feel sad and embarrassed.
For example, the Employment Development Department, which managed to lose $40 billion to fraud while failing to properly pay tens of thousands of legitimate applicants during the pandemic, once asked the internet to be kinder to them.
It didn’t go well.
Comments such as “EDD’s deafness and arrogance in posting the above tweet would be comical if people’s lives were not being destroyed by their hands…” and “…We are trying to feed our children and keep a roof over our heads. We care about loved ones and try not to drown. You’ll have to forgive us if we don’t behave as well as your policy requires” and “Damn, that’s incredible. They just said ‘stop being angry on our tweets’ and then directed us to automatic helplines???” appeared on the EDD Twitter feed within minutes – for a more detailed discussion of the issue, see here.
To EDD’s credit, EDD hasn’t shut down its social media public comment features.
Regarding the LADPH policy, both Loy and David Green of the Electronic Frontier Foundation have stated that while it may be legal, it is incorrect.
“As an organization, we are always in favor of providing more opportunities for better interaction,” Loy said.
“Social media is a valuable forum for public interaction,” Greene said, adding that an agency citing a deliberative exception under the circumstances is “ludicrous.”
The county resident said she did not know what her next steps, if any, would be. will, but said the problem is more than just a pandemic.
“Government bodies act by agreement,” she said. “And if they don’t allow public comment, they will always think they are doing the right thing, and that’s wrong.”
In addition to linking to their comment policy statement (see above), the agency declined to answer the following questions:
1. Why did the department close “comments” on their SM platforms on August 21, 2022?
2 – Was the department dissatisfied with the published comments?
3 – The county resident filed a PRA request and was eventually told that there were response records, but they were not publicly available because they were subject to either attorney-client privilege and/or a “deliberative” exception to the law. Can you provide a reason why such discussion would be privileged and/or subject to an exception?
4 – State law makes it quite clear that, faced with such a decision regarding deliberative exception, the public body must, for lack of a better term, err on the side of transparency; in this case it doesn’t seem to have been done – can you explain the reasoning?
5. Did the agency leave or delete comments made before August 21, 2022?
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