JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This week, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took heat for posts he made on social media Wednesday night.
It started with a response to a Tweet from Florida Times Union columnist Nate Monroe suggesting Mayor Curry was holding the school board to a stricter standard than his own budget.
A woman tweeted, “Exactly, Nate.”
The mayor responded to her, asking if she was speaking for her employers, and then tagging them in his comment.
About 20 minutes later he followed it up with another tweet with a question mark.
His Tweet generated a firestorm of responses and allegations of online bullying.
First Coast News asked the mayor about the tweet that sparked so much controversy.
"People consume a lot of news via social media, especially via Twitter, and when I saw that response I saw in the bio that they were in media for the company," said Curry.
The woman he's referring to works in media relations for Guidewell, the parent company for Florida Blue. The mayor's office made it known that the City of Jacksonville is a client of Florida Blue.
In the woman’s profile it states her position in media relations, but it also states “all comments are my own”.
In response to the mayor on Twitter, she responded, “just commenting as a citizen of Jacksonville”.
"The individual said it was a personal view and I moved right along, back to the movie I was watching," said Curry. "Look, freedom of speech, people can express their views to media or on social media, however they see fit, but I would say that's important to remember that people consume news on social media and on Twitter."
But not everyone moved along. Twitter users accused the mayor of bullying a private citizen when he notified her employer. Something that has been called “snitch-tagging”, or as the Los Angeles Times puts it, a form of a “twitter tattletale”.
Still, Curry defends his actions.
"I think if someone works for media they should expect to be asked if it is a personal position or a corporate position."
We asked the mayor if he ever regretted his Tweets or tries to get off of Twitter.
"When my wife says get off twitter, that’s about it, occasionally the public affairs here says get off twitter, but look, it’s a fun place but it’s important to remember people consume real news there."
Jacksonville City Coucilman Matt Carlucci tells First Coast News that every leader needs to take a step back when it comes to social media and he's happy to spread that message.
"Everything I hear from so many people is they’re over it, they’re over the tweeting," said Carlucci.
Carlucci couldn’t speak directly to the latest tweet involving the mayor, but he feels strongly about any elected official engaging with citizens on social media.
"I have thick skin, I’ve been through it all, it doesn’t bother me. But for an average citizen it can be scary, it can be intimidating for that, for expressing an opinion," he said.
Carlucci says building a consensus with honest communication, face to face is the only way for a city to work together and he believes Jacksonville needs more of that in order to make progress.
"Usually when you listen to the people, you get good ideas because they know what they want, they live here, Jacksonville is their home, they want to raise their kids here," he said.
He says he has a message for every elected leader to hear and he hopes if they all adhere to it their relationship with the community will be a more positive one.
"The bottom line? We should all, excuse my French, quit tweeting dumb-*** things," he said.
First Coast News asked the mayor’s office if every tweet the mayor posts should be considered an official statement from his elected position. They tell us no, it should not.