The Los Angeles County Department of Health, headed by mask-happy Barbara Ferrer, has turned off comments on its social media platforms, further distancing itself from the public it supposedly serves and avoiding accountability. Unfortunately for the department, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July on an unrelated case that such acts by public entities “violated the First Amendment by creating publicly accessible social media pages related to their official duties and then blocking certain members of the public because of the nature of their comments.”
It certainly appears that they’re breaking the law.
Fox 11 reporter Marla Tellez asked Ferrer about the closing of public comments this week, and the famously micromanaging, unelected executive incredibly claimed that she had no idea that had happened. Watch:
Many of you pointed out a week ago commenting was disabled fr @lapublichealth social media accts, including here on Twitter
I asked Health Dir. Barbara Ferrer if this was her decision + she tells me she wasn’t aware
We followed up
Her Chief Comms. Dir. sent us a statement: pic.twitter.com/eRPbWiE8Zx
— MarlaTellez (@MarlaTellez) August 5, 2022
Thanks to local television reporter Tellez’s doggedness, she got an answer from the “Comms Director” of the LACDH, Brett Morrow, who curiously took his Twitter account private soon after tangling with anchor Elex Michaelson, also of Fox 11. Michaelson was in a thread with Morrow over the County-USC Medical Center doctors saying the complete opposite of the department regarding the number of COVID cases in LA.
The statement from LA Public Health claims their decision to block the department’s over 350,000 social media followers was made because of “threats, bullying, or harassment on public platforms.” Note that older comments from the LACDH are still up on social media, and the overwhelming number of comments may mock or deride, or question, but mostly they’re not threatening.
Now attorney Julie Hamill, on behalf of the Alliance of LA County Parents, is cautioning the department that she will pursue a “cause of action” to force them to reopen comments on their official social media. She previously filed a Writ of Mandate to stop any future masks mandates.
I have asked counsel for @lapublichealth to review the Garnier decision (https://t.co/aeG7fVgrxI) and have his client reopen public comment on their official social media. If they do not do so, we will add a cause of action for violation of the 1st A. @ALT_lacph
— Julie Hamill (@hamill_law) August 5, 2022
LA County isn’t the only public entity trying to put a muzzle on people. The federal Department of Health and Human Services has been blocking comments on promoted tweets since 2021, such as this one with Surgeon General Vivek Murphy assuring the public that “chances are slim” you will get COVID after being vaccinated. This is obviously misinformation to anyone who’s not been in a cave for the last six months.
On California Senator Dr. Richard Pan’s official Twitter account, he also seems to run afoul of the court ruling. Either he or an employee apparently spends hours hiding comments on his tweets. His posts support removing parental consent from a variety of things, including allowing 12-year-olds the ability to get the COVID vaccine without parental consent. The hiding of responses has led to constituents having to educate others on how to unhide them.
— Jen G ❄️😭 (@Jen_G123) August 4, 2022
Some frustrated parents have set up a Twitter profile called “ALT LA Public Health Account” where they post every Tweet that LACDH puts out. The difference? They allow commenters. While this is an amusing development, and another great sign of people fighting back, it still doesn’t hold Ferrer accountable because you can be sure she’ll never visit.
LACDH’s habit of further hiding from the public they’re supposed to answer to and avoiding accountability is a bad one, and it’s high time that a court stepped in. In the United States of America, consent of the governed goes along with allowing the public to comment.
Read all of RedState’s Barbara Ferrer coverage here.