Rockland County social service worker James Foley has taken down his controversial and influential Block the Bloc Vote Facebook page following requests from county attorneys that he remove content criticizing county politicians, reliable sources in county government have told the Rockland County Times.
According to Rockland County’s social media policy, county workers cannot make posts that interfere with their duties as a county worker or ones that might harm the reputation of the county. While Foley’s criticisms of politicians such as David Carlucci, a state Senator, do not fall under the county’s social media policy, Foley’s most recent posts bashing county officials District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and Sheriff Louis Falco apparently do.
It is not the first time county officials have been caught in the crosshairs of Foley’s political commentary, but this latest broadside seems to have raised eyebrows and led to instructions that he cease posting about county figures.
Foley did not have to take the site down completely, but has apparently chosen to do so for the time being. Foley said he could not comment on the case.
Others have questioned whether rules forbidding county workers from making posts about county officials are constitutional. The United States legal precedent on the matter suggests that public workers do NOT have a right to conduct speech that is detrimental to their job duties. But is speech merely critical of public officials at the same level of government detrimental to Foley’s job duties?
The Block the Bloc Vote Facebook page has attracted over 12,000 fans in the past two to three years. The page has engaged in a no holds barred criticism of the political influence wielded by the religious sects of Ramapo, targeted politicians favorable to these sects and often taken umbrage with the high level of social services received by members of the religious community by comparison to the rest of the county.
Zugibe and Falco found themselves under Foley’s microscope after Falco brought felony charges against several correction officers for allegedly sketchy log book practices while watching inmates on suicide watch. All the COs charged with felonies by Falco happened to be former political adversaries of the sheriff who endorsed Richard Vasquez for sheriff.
Some have described these cases as a witch hunt and selective prosecution. Complaints over jailhouse log book practices are normally adjudicated through job disciplinary proceedings, critics point out.