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Facebook meme page scrutinized over use of Watertown seal

Jul. 5—WATERTOWN — A Facebook page that has posted controversial memes about local politics is raising eyebrows once again.

City resident Michael Ladue wants to make sure that city officials are aware that the "City of Watertown Meme Page" contains the official city seal, making it appear that the page "is sanctioned by the city."

Using the seal gives the impression to the public that the city condones the Facebook page, he said.

The Facebook page first surfaced on May 15 after its originators applauded interim city attorney H. Todd Bullard for standing up to Councilman Cliff G. Olney during a heated exchange at a council meeting that month.

Originators called the page Bullard's fan club.

They removed any connection on the Facebook page to Bullard after the attorney and his law firm asked them to stop using his name and photo.

But the Facebook page was renamed and immediately started using the official city seal, said Bullard, who has questioned its contents and tactics in attacking people who disagree with them.

"You have to have a big fat pencil with a large eraser to keep a scorecard of everyone's agenda," he said.

City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said he was unaware the Facebook page was using the city seal on its homepage.

"Well, we'll look into it," he said.

In June, Mr. Ladue asked the state's Attorney Grievance Committee to investigate Bullard's conduct and perceived connection to the Facebook page.

In a June 21 letter, the grievance committee wrote it had no mechanism to investigate Ladue's inquiry and closed the case.

Ladue, who said he pays attention to local politics, said he was satisfied that the attorney has since made it clear to the public he was not involved in the Facebook page or that he condoned it.

The posts initially poked fun at city officials. But as more people responded to the page, the posts became more personal and nastier.

The posts have been mainly attacks against Ives Hill Country Club owner P.J. Simao and council members Olney, Lisa A. Ruggiero and Patrick J. Hickey.

The posts have mostly stayed away from mentioning Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo Pierce, generating speculation that the originators were supporters of the councilwoman, who is running for mayor against Ruggiero.

After he became alarmed about a particular meme, Simao filed a criminal complaint with state police over what he believes was threatening.

That post shows a photo of Simao in a flannel shirt with the words "Wanted Dead or Alive."