Florence officials address supposed false online criticism

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In response to several individuals who made supposed false claims toward the Florence Township municipality on social media, local officials addressed these instances at a council meeting on April 3.

During the administration reports period of the council meeting, township administrator Richard Brook pointed to two particular incidents where an individual had posted photos and/or comments on social media in which he felt falsely criticized the municipality and its employees.

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“Sometimes there are posts on Facebook that warrant a response publicly and on the records, so that they are clearly in our minutes,” Brook said. “We had two [incidents] that were recently posted.”

Brook said during his report that in one of these supposed incidents, he felt a post had personally insulted the township’s water and sewer department employees.

He explained that while these employees were out in the township working on a project several weeks ago, surveying a job in which they were getting ready to prepare for work scheduled in the upcoming months, a supposed bystander had taken a picture of the workers that was then posted to social media with a caption to the effect of, “How many county employees does it take to do this type of work?”

“It was unfortunate because it really hurt the feelings of the [workers],” Brook said. “The [workers] were out there taking on a job that they do not have to take on, but voluntarily agreed to do.

“Sometimes, there are posts that go up that are just incorrect, they are untrue and they place us in a difficult position because we as public employees are held to a much higher standard. We have to be responsible for the content that we post on any type of social media,” Brook said.

In providing further explanation of this instance, Brook explained that multiple employees were providing a service for the municipality of some extent which required a larger quantity of workers to be on-hand at the site.

To quell any suggestion that this work was frivolous and/or wasteful of the municipality’s expenses, Brook said that the employees were tasked with an important job.

“What the [individual] would have found out is that the water and sewer employees were preparing to take on a job and needed the survey, the scope and the amount of project work that they would have to do in the future, so that they could do the job safely, efficiently and minimize the inconvenience to the public,” he said.

Another social media post that the municipality felt falsely criticized for dealt with a local business supposedly having to let go of alpacas and goats on its property due to a complication with non-working solar panels.

At this instance, an individual supposedly posted that the animals would have to then be put down with subsequent posts then attacking the municipality to the effect of “How could the town let these poor animals die?”

Once again, Brook reported that this post was misguided in its claims and further explained its ties to the municipality.

“The township has nothing to do with post and has nothing to do with the insinuation that the alpacas will be put down,” he said “The individual who came in and applied for the solar panels many years ago, got his approval, agreed to follow through with what was required as part of the site plan, but ultimately, refused to do that work.

“That meant the municipality could not issue him a certificate of approval, so that the solar panels could be energized. We are working now with his attorney to try and get [the owner] to finalize the work that he has to do, so that the solar panels can be energized,” he said.

Going forward, Brook said that he felt if posts like these were to appear online in the future that falsely criticize the municipality, officials should note them for discussion.

Brook also noted that if residents have any questions or concerns regarding instances or happenings throughout the township, they are welcome to contact a municipal official and/or attend a public meeting for more information.

“If a resident would just simply take a few moments to call the town, we will give them the truth,” he said. “If the individuals wish to come in and meet with the town or even come to a public meeting, they’re welcome to do that.”

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