Have I mentioned recently how much I love Twitter? Not recently enough, I’m sure.
I realize that for the most part, you guys are not nearly as excited about it as I am. In fact, when I asked about it on my reader survey last August, a full three quarters of you responded that you were just not interested in Twitter. I gotta say, folks – you really should give it another try.
Creating a Twitter account is wicked easy. And if you don’t feel like you have anything to say, you don’t have to write anything. Just read! Twitter is a news junkie’s fantasy.
As long as you follow interesting people, you are constantly learning all sorts of interesting things. You can stay current on local events by following institutions and organizations like the Oakland Museum, Oakland Public Library, East Bay Regional Park District, Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland Zoo, Oakland Running Festival, Jack London Square, Walk Oakland, Bike Oakland, Children’s Fairyland, and so on. Twitter is also great for keeping up with headlines. Many news sources post to twitter with a link to the story every time they put up something new. So if you always want to be current about what’s new on The Oakbook or InOakland without constantly reloading the site – well, Twitter can help you with that, too.
But the reason I really love Twitter is because of how much more enjoyable it makes going to meetings. I spend a lot of time sitting through public meetings, and if it’s at all possible, I try to tweet what’s going on. I decided to start tweeting Oakland meetings last Spring after finding myself completely captivated by the awesome State budget twitter coverage from Sacramento journalists KQED_CapNotes, CapitolAlert, capitolweekly, ShaneGoldmacher, and kyamamura. I love being able to keep up with what’s going on at meetings I can’t be at via Twitter – the newspaper the next day is great for a condensed summary of the important stuff that happened, but with Twitter, you get the added fun of being able to experience the flavor of the meeting, and also maybe learn about some of the amusing, but relatively unimportant stuff that goes on – the sort of thing nobody is ever going to write an article about. Plus, writing about it makes being at these meetings way more fun, especially when you’re there by yourself.
While there’s always room for improvement, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with our burgeoning Oakland meeting Twitter corps. In addition to my tweets, you can also get great Oakland meeting coverage from OaklandBecks, Jawnie, das88, MaxAllstadt, and dto510, all of whom make a habit of letting the Twittersphere know what’s going on at the City Council, AC Transit, BART, Planning Commission, Public Ethics Commission, or wherever else they happen to be.
Anyway, to give you all a sense of what you’ve been missing, I thought it might be nice to share the play by play of yesterday’s MTC meeting from Twitter. Here we go:
das88: About to head to MTC meeting. No to the OAC boondoggle – Don’t trust BART with $70 million. We won’t even get any magic beans for the money
OaklandBecks: At rally for justice and jobs outside mtc. Great tunout but even larger turnout of pro oac protestors across the street.
das88: #oakmtg Unions outfront of Mtc chanting for jobs now. They don’t seem to realize that $70M for transit saves more Union jobs. Stop layoffs.
StreetsblogSF: Transit advocates at MTC being drowned out by approx 100 construction unionists
OaklandBecks: The seen at mtc is a bit surreal and very inspiring.
OaklandBecks: Mtc main room filled to capacity. Overflow room also full. They’re trying to set up audio in cafeteria.
das88: Standing behind Carol Ward Allen and Kerry Hammil at the MTC #oakmtg
das88: That’s literally not figuratively
Vsmoothe: MTC/BATA meeting crazy packed. Overflow room beyond full, more overflow in cafeteria also full. Yikes. #mtcmtg
transbay: Groundhog Day comes early this year — at MTC again for another stimulus dollars showdown. Utter madness here.
OaklandBecks: Bike advocates for bay bridge very organized, wearing bright green stickers saying bridge the gap. Lots of nice hand made signs too
TransForm_Alert: MTC auditorium is at overfill capacity. Carpenters continue to believe OAC is worth fighting for.
das88: Bay Area Toll Auth (BATA) mtg beginning to disuss toll schedule
TransForm_Alert: bata staff is describing new bridge toll rates- to do seismic work on bridges.
das88: BATA recommend $5 regular toll w/congestion pricing on Bay Bridge addor minus $1 #oakmtg
TransForm_Alert: mtc’s leg analysis says can’t use revenue from the new toll increases on bike access. bikers are here to get mtc to get that authority.
TransForm_Alert: sen. hancock is introducing a bill to enable bike access on the west span of the bay bridge.
das88: #oakmtg BAa chair says W. Bikeline not germane to today’s discussion
das88: #oakmtg Tom Bates concurs saying we need to find funding first
TransForm_Alert: many speakers support higher tolls, just not for them.
das88: Recreation fisher says axel toll increase should only apply to commerecial vehicles so his kids can fish instead of play video games #oakmtg
das88: 2nd casual carpooler speaker bummed that carpools will have to pay some toll (it is proposed to be half)
das88: #oakmtg I believe though casual carpool started when toll was only $2
TransForm_Alert: daly proposes two dollars instead of two-fifty for carpools. bates seconds.
TransForm_Alert: lempert and mckenzie urge not changing rates without looking at revenue impact.
TransForm_Alert: original motion to adopt staff recommendation passes–congestion pricing is coming to the bay!
TransForm_Alert: heminger says that all revenue will be committed to seismic retrofit.
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: Can toll increase sunset once bridges are paid for? E. Director: No, never sunset, we will need more toll hikes also. #mtcmtg
StreetsblogSF: Bay Area Toll Authority unanimously approved toll increase with congestion pricing and carpool charge of $2.50.
StreetsblogSF: Commishes ask for further study of carpool rate to be sure new toll won’t discourage casual carpooling
TransForm_Alert: oac item commences…
OaklandBecks: Heminger says OAC is like Groundhog Day, going back over and over again. Yeah, advocates feel like that too.
TransForm_Alert: heminger acknowleges that staff recommendation was released only twelve hrs ago, even though they got a letter from fta on jan fifteenth.
TransForm_Alert: there is a big risk to accepting option of fta conditional award of arra funds, the region could lode seventy million dollars.
TransForm_Alert: will mtc commissioners take a gamble on bart doing a good and quick job of equity analysis?
TransForm_Alert: heminger notes that other federal funds could be at risk, in addition to arra funds.
TransForm_Alert: heminger: two options take the risk on the oac or put the money to the projects id’ed when commission had doubts about oac last year.
OaklandBecks: Heminger says risk of losing $70 million in stimulus funds is “manageable” but not insignificant.
TransForm_Alert: mtc recommends giving bart until feb sixteenth…..
TransForm_Alert: mtc thinks that over the next two weeks bart and fta can work on the outline of work to be done- no commitment from fta or bart on this.
Vsmoothe: ED: People using the Airport Connector will all be rich, since they can afford airplane tickets. Therefore, $12 fare has no impact. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: ED: Once a bid is accepted, too late to discuss alternatives. (BTW, BART was repeatedly asked to study alternatives & refused.) #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Heminger – risk of reallocating funds to transit agencies is OAC would lose other fed funds and bid would be lost. Would that be so bad?
OaklandBecks: Heminger – safest course of action is to redirect funds today. (crowd claps) But I don’t think it’s the best course. (others clap)
das88: The mayor in the house at MTC #oakmtg
OaklandBecks: Damn. Dellums about to speak. Why is it this issue he chooses to speak up? Why not spend time on something that will help Oakland?
TransForm_Alert: mayor dellums speaks in favor of the oac, but with conditions and takes civil rights seriously.
OaklandBecks: Oh wait – Dellums brings up issues he had raised about fares and local hire, which BART has not answered. Says he takes civ rights seriously
TransForm_Alert: dellums supports use of civil rights complaints to change institutions- our goal in filing the complaint.
OaklandBecks: Dellums – I met with Sec of Transportation. Said he believes BART wants to resolve matters, but FTA has to have open dialog.
Vsmoothe: Mayor: One thing I’ve learned about Washington DC is that they don’t do things on “rigid timeframes.” Let’s talk and hug it out. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Why do pro-OAC folks think it makes the project sound good to say they couldn’t build it after trying for 20 years? #mtcmtg
StreetsblogSF: BART GM Dugger testifies that BART is committed to resolving Title VI deficiencies. Says she’s concerned as child of Civil Rights era
TransForm_Alert: bart general manager dugger says fta audit identified deficiencies.
TransForm_Alert: bart bd director carol ward allen cites two-thousand job figure that bart’s been referencing, though bart’s report to fta cited six hundred.
OaklandBecks: Carol Ward Allen offended that opponents used Title VI to stop project. If BART had considered equity arguments, we wouldn’t have had to.
Vsmoothe: Bart Dir Carol Ward Allen says again OAC will create 2500-5000 jobs. Not according to any of BART’s documents! #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: ward allen also said she was offended that anyone would use civil rights claim against the project.
OaklandBecks: Scott Haggerty not allowing OAC opponents to yield time, but allowed proponents to. 30 opponents wanted to yield – would have saved time.
Vsmoothe: Pro-OAC exceeds speaker time, gets cut off. Response? “Please, just 5 more minutes.” #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: finally, speakers talking about risks and ability to protect transit jobs and prevent layoffs.
TransForm_Alert: stuart cohen of transform emphasizes huge risk to region in losing money.
TransForm_Alert: bart bd director joel keller of contra costa speaks for the oac. don’t like what your bart bd reps think? let them know!
OaklandBecks: Genesis has done an incredible job turning out their members to many meetings against OAC. They are a force to be reckoned with!
OaklandBecks: Speakers keep reminding Haggerty that they would have ceded time (and saved time) if he had allowed them to.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: Want to remind everyone what City we’re in – “this is not Vegas, baby!” No time to gamble! #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: I have not yet heard any arguments that OAC will benefit the public. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker, cont: Yes, OAC will put some people to work. But so would digging a hole and filling it back in. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART has cut the public out of these discussions and refused to bring them to the table. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Pro-OAC Speaker: Look around the room at all these OAC contractors, most of them don’t live in Oakland! #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Haggerty is no fun! Now he’s telling people not to clap so loudly because his throat is getting sore yelling over them.
OaklandBecks: John Knox White asks for same deference as Haggerty gave to proponents, and Haggerty (sounding annoyed) said, just speak.
OaklandBecks: It’s great that SF Muni & bike advocates are speaking out against OAC. They realize that the OAC is taking funds from the whole region.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: You can’t accurately evaluate the risk without action plan from BART. We’ve been here before, how many times do we do this? #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: MTC blowing through speaker cards a lot faster now – many people had to leave, couldn’t wait 3 hours to speak. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART today claims 5,000 jobs, but their own EIR and documents say 200-300 jobs. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: We laid out FTA requirements to you last Spring, BART said that they did it, now FTA says they haven’t. Not a surprise! #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: Disingenuous for BART to put construction workers on the line. If BART wanted to make jobs, they would have done analysis before.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: Cuts on the way for VTA are devastating, terrifying. Jobs and lives hang in the balance. Please don’t risk the money. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Joel Ramos from TransForm: I was a half hour late to MTC mtg because Muni broke down. These funds could prevent things like that.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: There is too much risk in staff’s recommendation. If BART makes a mistake way down the line, region will lose money. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: There will be a huge black mark on MTC if the Bay Area loses this money. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Speaker representing Nat Ford from SF MTA. Not taking position on OAC but saying reallocation of funds would help Muni.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: Cards have been dealt, but can’t be seen yet. You don’t know if you have 13 or 21. Not smart to make a $70 million bet. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Speaker – BART’s slogan “Taking BART to airport saves you time and money.” Won’t be true once the OAC is built.
TransForm_Alert: atu- transit workers-call for union workers not to work against each other- don’t take jobs from one to give to the other.
Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART has had decades to get this right, why expect something phenomenal from them in the next 20 days? #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Public comment on OAC is over! #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Um, I will tweet Commission discussion as it goes on, but am listening in overflow room, so I can’t see who is saying what. #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: spering (solano) proposed to have bart move on developing a corrective action plan and bring it back at a special mtg on feb 17. kinsey 2nd.
OaklandBecks: Motion to go with option one of giving BART until Feb 16 to comply with FTA requests, and to schedule special MTC mtg for Feb 17.
Vsmoothe: Motion: keep $70m assigned to OAC, but reprogram money to transit agencies if FTA doesn’t approve action plan by mid-Feb. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: It looks like they’re going to go with option 1, so put Feburary 17 MTC mtg on your calendar and try now to get off of work.
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: People supporting & opposing OAC have not changed over the years. Do we continue to support this project? Yes! #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Commissioner Glover totally wrong, saying vast majority of people in district support this project and people complaining don’t live there.
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: I hear 10 to 1 from people in area that they support project. Opponents are from outside. That’s not true, of course. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Commissioner Kinsey – it’s impossible for us to allow this $ to leave the region. I hope he remembers that comment on the 17th.
Vsmoothe: Com. Kinsey: Can’t let money get away from region. Support motion for special meeting later to consider BART action plan. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Commissioner talks about devastating situation with unemployment in building trades. What about devastating situation with transit budgets?
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: This project is a “significant way” to address 30% unemployment rate among building trades. Will make 1000s of jobs. #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: chris daly (sf) argues against risk and for prudent handling of public dollars, citing muni, bart, ac transit shortfalls.
OaklandBecks: Commissioner Daley – one of the biggest risk takers (him) in the region is going to argue against taking this risk.
Vsmoothe: Com Daly: This is taxpayer money, and we have a responsibility to administer the people’s money as prudently as possible. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Com Daly: We let AC Transit cannabalize $35m for a smart project that should happen because they’re dying. Was right decision. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Daly gets it. Listing all the terrible budget situations transit situations are in. AC Transit had to shift $ from BRT because it’s so dire.
OaklandBecks: Daly – Most of you who have been promised jobs on this project, you won’t.
Vsmoothe: Com Daly: Feel really bad for people promised jobs from OAC, and expect jobs. Know from experience the jobs won’t materialize. #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: daly raises the question of whether mtc can make sure bart adheres to civil rights requirements.
Vsmoothe: Com Daly: If we approve BART’s action plan, how are we going to ensure BART follows it? Will ED set up camp in BART office? #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: Com Daly: Every agency is looking at increasing fares and decreasing service. We could stem the tide. This is bad policy! #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Daly – President announcing spending freeze tonight. There’s going to be no help from Sacramento. We’re on our own.
OaklandBecks: Comm Bates – If we can’t stop OAC, we should keep $ in the region. Staff’s rec is prudent, but I’d prefer we give $ to transit agencies.
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: ARRA money isn’t there to save existing jobs from going away, only there to make new jobs. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Commissioners saying we should use same energy as at MTC in Sac. Of course that assumes none of us are pushing for transit $ in Sac.
OaklandBecks: Comm Tissier – We need to not have blind faith in this project. But also, FTA needs to act in good faith.
Vsmoothe: Commissioner: FTA needs to be good faith participant, this info came very late. #mtcmtg
Vsmoothe: FTA requirements have existed for very long time. MTC & BART were warned they were out of compliance last year, ignored complaints. #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: Cortese (Santa Clara County, rep’ing ABAG) and others argued against putting these funds to transit, saying they’d be gone quickly.
Vsmoothe: Com Cortese: Not fiscally responsible to give money to local transit agencies, more responsible to give it to OAC. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Heminger admits that there’s a risk that by mid-February, there might not be enough time to have FTA approve reallocation of $.
Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: If we had guarantee that $70m would give jobs to all unemployed people here, I would give it to them in a heartbeat. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Comm Lempert – if there was assurance that unemployed people here would get jobs, I’d say we should give the money to do that.
OaklandBecks: Comm Lempert – if BART has to lower fares, would project still be financially sustainable? (Not that it ever was.)
Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: We have no guarantee about the jobs. What if FTA says lower the fare? Will BART be back asking us for more $$$? #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: Lempert – this is very risky and having an action at that late of date is too big a risk. Wants to reallocate funds immediately.
Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: Every time this project has come before us, there has been a problem. The risk of sticking with it is too great. #mtcmtg
TransForm_Alert: mackenzie (sonoma) asks mtc staff about the impacts on jobs of not funding oac
TransForm_Alert: heminger (mtc) says many transit agencied would use the funds for preventative maintenance and preventing layoffs.
OaklandBecks: Woo! Another commissioner joining Daly, Bates, and Lempert in supporting reallocating funds immediately because it’s too risky.
OaklandBecks: OMG! Halstead also voting against the motion. That’s 5 commissioners against it – the most we’ve had so far at MTC.
Vsmoothe: Com Halsted & one who’s name I missed join Daly, Bates, and Lempert in saying OAC risk is too big – give $$ to transit agencies. #mtcmtg
MaxAllstadt: Sound like the MTC is gonna vote the wrong way again. What’s the next step?
TransForm_Alert: Bates, Daly, Lempert, Halsted, and MacKenzie opposed continuing effort to direct ARRA funds to OAC.
MaxAllstadt: Scott Haggerty says “one of the greatest things is being able to speak” but he cuts off opponents, lets allies go overtime. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Com Haggerty: Money should not go to transit agencies now, doing that does nothing to help future generations.
OaklandBecks: Comm Haggerty – I don’t respect people who just want to dump $ into transit agencies to help them survive for a few more months.
Vsmoothe: Com Haggerty: We must fund OAC for our children. Nobody thinks of my kids in school, we must leave them something. #mtcmtg
MaxAllstadt: OMG is Haggerty faking being on the verge of tears? It sounds like it.
Haggerty delivered an impassioned commentary likening the OAC to the depression-era legacy of the Golden Gate Bridge-something for our kids.
MaxAllstadt: Haggerty, you are going to leave your kids something: Debt. Debt. and more Debt.
TransForm_Alert: Motion passed 11-5 to give BART 2 weeks to develop a “corrective action plan” to outline how they would meet Civil Rights requirements.
Vsmoothe: Motion passes 11-5. BART has until mid-February to get action plan approved by FTA, MTC will consider action plan at that point. #mtcmtg
OaklandBecks: MTC approves motion to wait until February 16th. 11 yeses-5 nos
OaklandBecks: Speaker at public comment telling MTC they need to do better with audio at well attended mtgs – should have audio outside or in lobby.
StreetsblogSF: MTC votes 11-5 to support Oakland Airport connector, assuming BART gets FTA civil rights approval. Special meeting on 2/16 for follow up
StreetsblogSF: No votes were Daly Lempert Halstead McKinzie Bates
TransForm_Alert: Feb. 17: special MTC meeting to review BART corrective action plan and see how feasible it will be and what kind of risk it represents.
das88: Wonder which state is going to get our $70M ARRA money after BART flubs the Title 6 response.
If you found that a little hard to follow, that’s okay, don’t let it scare you. When originally posted, those all went up over a five hour period, so it was less overwhelming. Twitter works best when you’re getting the updates in real(ish) time, not the next day when you already know what happened in the end. If you want a good summary of what the outcome of the meeting was and what it means, I strongly suggest you read today’s excellent post on Transbay Blog about it.
And I hope to see some of you guys on Twitter soon!