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Cook County commissioners shoot down Twitter ban

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

The electronic chirping can continue during Cook County Board meetings, as commissioners shot down a plan today to ban members from Tweeting during meetings.

Several members of the board's Rules Committee expressed frustration with the messages Commissioner Tony Peraica sends out to followers of his Twitter account as debates rage. In the end, however, only Commissioner Joseph Moreno, D-Chicago, voted to prohibit the practice.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, said silencing the Tweets would infringe on board members' freedom of speech. "In this situation, we are trying to limit First Amendment access -- which has been guaranteed by both the federal and state constitution -- between the elected officials and their constituents, and more importantly, between the constituents and the elected officials," Suffredin said.

Peraica, R-Riverside, was not on hand for the meeting, but his presence was felt throughout the debate.

"I'll chime in, since I've been the target of erroneous tweets by the twit in question," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman, R-Orland Park.

Gorman said Peraica has inaccurately Tweeted about her positions on county issues, but she acknowledged it's a "behavioral issue" that shouldn't be outlawed.

Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood, urged his colleagues to move on to weightier problems.

"I think it's interesting that we have a budget deficit of nearly $300 million coming upon us and we're spending time talking about whether we can Tweet or not Tweet at the meeting," Schneider said.


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