Opinion » Shredder

Transparency v. invisibility


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For the record, I think SLO city Mayor Heidi Harmon is doing a pretty good job of running this town. The heart of her progressive politics is in the right place. Of course, she's also been a very divisive figure. Not quite half the town is sick of her "I know what's best for you" posturing. And, let's face it, she's not super great at accepting criticism or talking suggestions because, you know, @heidiismighty, amirite?


Nowhere has this been made more apparent than the current kerfuffle over her Facebook and Instagram accounts, which were arguably her private accounts before they morphed into accounts used for city business. Even City Attorney Christine Dietrick confirmed that if public business is being conducted on them, records of her accounts must be available to the public.

So when Harmon started blocking people from seeing her posts and commenting on them, she was not only being thin-skinned, she was breaking the public trust and stripping her critics of their free speech rights on a platform that had become public. All told, she blocked more than 20 people on Instagram and more than 50 on Facebook because she didn't like what they had to say.

Look, I know Harmon has been a bit of a weirdo-magnet who attracted rainbow-flag vandals, live stalkers, and enough Internet trolls to populate multiple volumes of Grimm's Fairy Tales, but you're a politician now, Heidi! I know you'd rather become a mittenista meme like your hero Bernie Sanders, but you get the public attention you get and you don't throw a fit! Instead, you threw a fit.

After removing the social media barriers in December to comply with access laws, Harmon decided earlier this month to simply go dark on social media, suspending the accounts. Hey, Heidi, you can ignore, block, or defriend anyone you want from your private accounts, but your own actions made your accounts public platforms for city business!

Now she's solely using the city's emailed newsletter to communicate with constituents, and the problem is, some citizens who followed her on social media may no longer be receiving information on important matters.

One of the people Harmon blocked, local radio personality Adam Montiel, complained to The Tribune that, "She should welcome different opinions, not actively and illegally shut them down in public forums used for city business."

He's got a good point. It's especially annoying that Harmon has essentially refused to answer questions about her behavior. Mayor Harmon, you're everyone's mayor, not just citizens who agree with you. What's next? Screening who's allowed to make public comments at City Council meetings? You do realize you're not required to respond to every dipshit who posts a negative comment on your page, right?


File this next one in the "COVID-19 turns some people into assholes" department. Taste, the amazing eatery on Broad Street in SLO, recently shared a security video clip on social media showing a man tossing their menus on the counter and shoving a male worker at the restaurant. The worker was simply explaining to the um, "gentleman," that indoor seating was closed by state directive and the restaurant could only serve food to-go.

The man walked out with his three female companions only to return and square off against the worker again before finally storming out Taste, which has dreamy mac and cheese and delicious sliders, which travel well in to-go containers, ya big dope! They taste just as good in your car, you bully!

Along with the video, @tastecrafteatery posted, "We are not political. We are not security guards. We are restaurant people. We work in this industry because we love it and we love our community. Sometimes it feels like maybe [we love it] more than it loves us."

Look, John and Joanna Q. Public, I get it! You're are sick of the pandemic and your mental health is stressed, but don't take it out on the front-line workers who are risking their health so you can get a Very Berry Salad to go!

"We jump through hoops every day to stay safe and to keep our staff employed so they can survive and pay their bills," @tastecrafteatery continued. "We close inside, we close outside, we spend tens of thousands on parklets and equipment and heaters and whatnot. We nonstop clean and sanitize and stay late and arrive early to make adjustments. We endure one star baseless reviews and the yelling. One minute we are horrible for being open at all and the next we are horrible for not fighting back more and thumbing our nose. We are all so very frustrated. ALL OF US. This behavior towards one of our staff is beyond comprehension and will not be tolerated."

To the shover in the baseball cap, you are guilty of assault, asshat. You're also a boor and a brute—small, petty, thoughtless, and entitled—the classic aggrieved, privileged white man. You should be deeply ashamed, and your companions should be embarrassed by your reprehensible behavior.

"Today is a new day," @tastecrafteatery concluded. "As always, we choose love. If you can't, then go away."

Good advice as businesses begin to carefully reopen and follow state safety mandates that are designed to protect us all. Too bad there's not a vaccine for dickheadedness. Δ

The Shredder is now hungry. Send recipes to [email protected].



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