The ongoing feud between Houston's mayor and firefighters escalated again last week when Mayor Sylvester Turner pledged to crackdown on firefighters who insult him on social media or conduct political activity at fire stations.
The fire union called it a “hypocritical temper tantrum.” Houston attorney Chris Tritico says the mayor's warning is a threat to firefighters' free speech.
“The mayor or any other government official, does not have the authority to tell a government employee what they can and cannot say on their private social media accounts, period.”
“Talking on the firefighter union social media account, that is a private entity as well and they have the right to say whatever they want on their,” says Tritico. “It's when you're speaking on government property as a government employee, they may have the right to limit that speech.”
Social media was quick to respond with several pictures of Mayor Turner himself campaigning at fire stations.
“What does the city allow for electioneering? What does is not allow? And if you've never stopped electioneering before, the mayor can't stop it today,” says Tritico.