Tweets will continue to emanate from the Cook County Board chamber after commissioners on Tuesday shot down a proposal that would ban members from using social media during formal board hearings.
The ban, proposed by Chicago Democratic Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno, never got out of the Rules & Administration Committee, dying by a 5-1 vote. Three commissioners were absent.
Moreno argued the ordinance would help avoid inaccurate information from going out during proceedings, but others said a ban could violate the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
"I think it would be unenforceable, and I think it would be unconstitutional. This files in the face of our basic constitutional rights. Freedom of speech, particularly for a member of a legislative body," said Commisioner Tony Peraica, a Republican from Riverside.
The proposal was viewed by some as a political attack against commissioners who are avid tweeters and Facebookers.
Specifically, some are pointing to a rivalry between Commissioner Moreno and Peraica, who sometimes "politweets" from inside the boardroom. On December 1st, for instance, Peraica tweeted "Com Moreno is now trying to come up with a new twist to justify a higher sales tax and support of stronger veto. He cannot. Falls flat."
Moreno insists this issue has nothing to do with Peraica because they are in different districts. But he admits to the Daily Herald that "Commissioner Peraica is the culprit. He has sent erroneous information about how people vote on Twitter, and we want to avoid that."
"Twitter is the wave of the future, and it allows us to distribute current and factual information about what's going on with the board," said Bartlett Republican Commissioner Timothy Schneider to the Daily Herald. Schneider also tweets during meetings. "When it's not abused or used for political purposes, I think it's worthwhile," Schneider added.