The zoo, taxis, and libraries: Last night’s #oakmtg on Twitter

The other day, I was reading this article about Twitter, and how although most people know about it, a relatively small number actually use it.

I understand that Twitter isn’t really for everyone. There’s a lot of things on Twitter that don’t really interest me very much. I don’t follow celebrities, I don’t care about Foursquare checkins, and I never look at the trending topics. But the great thing about Twitter is that if you’re not interested in any of that, you don’t have to make it a part of your experience, because Twitter is largely organized around interests, rather than existing relationships.

Which brings me to my favorite thing about Twitter: #oakmtg.

A while back, I went through a period of about a year where I had either totally unreliable internet service at home, or no internet service at home. I don’t have cable either, which meant that if I wanted to watch a Council meeting, I had to go down to City Hall and sit there through the whole thing.

Mostly, I prefer watching Council meetings from home, because — well, Council meetings tend to last a really long time, and I’m a busy person. If I’m at home, I can have the meeting playing while I get other things done. At City Hall, it’s way too distracting to accomplish any real work. So I often found myself rather bored.

So mostly as a way to pass the time and entertain myself, I started tweeting what was going on. Turned out, a lot of people seemed to enjoy hearing what was happening at Council meetings in real time. And then, other people who were watching the meetings started tweeting also. Soon, we had a small, but fairly active group of people tweeting Council meetings pretty regularly.

And then, something even more exciting happened. Some people found the #oakmtg tweets interesting enough that they decided to turn on the meeting and watch for themselves. And then they started tweeting what was happening!

How many people are tweeting any particular meeting varies depending on how exciting the agenda is. But I’m always so thrilled when I see new people tweeting meetings, and I think there’s a lot of potential for growth here. I’d love to see every meeting get tweeted — when I can’t make a Council meeting, I’m constantly checking Twitter to see what’s going on, and I always feel so disappointed if nobody’s tweeting it.

Below, I’ve shared the #oakmtg tweets from last night, which should give you a sense of what all this looks like. (I’ve mixed in some video of public comment as well, just to spice things up.) So give it a read, and next time you find yourself at City Hall, or even at home watching a Council or Committee or Commission meeting, consider making yourself a Twitter account and tweet what’s going on. Just write “#oakmtg” at the end, and people will find it.

And now, the tweets:

Before the meeting

oaklandscene: Alright, council members are in the chambers! #oakmtg

DIYGene: what’s the chanting at #oakmtg? can’t make it out in the video feed

DIYGene: now it’s “fair share, fair deal, city council make it real”. oo! and an airhorn at #oakmtg

oaklandscene: I have to admit that I love the energy around council budget meetings. Councilman Reid is trying to call the meeting, but too noisy #oakmtg

dto510: The Council is apparently also the Geological Hazard Abatement Board. I haven’t heard that one before. #oakmtg

oaklandscene: No Mayor Jean Quan here at Oakland city council meeting. I’m a bit surprised. #oakmtg

MaxAllstadt: @oaklandscene I’m not. She skips scary controversial meetings. She didn’t show up for gang injunctions either. #oakmtg

matthai: @MaxAllstadt @oaklandscene Quan was definitely at injunction #oakmtg – just behind the scenes. She met with named gang members in her office

MaxAllstadt: @matthai I know. I was at that #oakmtg with you. I was the one who tweeted the information that led to the Bay Citizen writing about it.

New City Administrator

oaklandscene: Larry Reid tried to get folks to move to the overflow rooms b/c of crowd size, but with defiant chants few people left. #oakmtg

matthai: In separate news, Oakland city council unanimously approved San Jose Deputy City Manager Deanna Santana as the new city administrator.

dto510: @matthai Whaat? Was that noticed?

matthai: @dto510 Santana’s hiring as city administrator was approved in a closed session meeting today. #oakmtg

matthai: Santana’s oakland experience: fire dept intern under chief Lamont Ewell, worked in Joe Samuels’ OPD & city mgr’s office under Craig Kocian

dto510: .@matthai I’m sure new City Admin Deanna Santana is very well qualified, but boy was that a secretive selection process.

Open Forum

dto510: I heard there was quite the ‘Net battle over getting the first 15 sign-ups for Open Forum. Looks like artists beat libarians. #oakmtg

dto510: A lot of people, on both biz and labor sides, think #Oakland loses a lot of biz tax to undercollection. #oakmtg

dto510: I agree biz tax collectors shouldn’t be cut. But I don’t really like the idea of the tax man being Oakland’s “ambassador.” #oakmtg

oaklandscene: Uh oh, I see the interim fire chief floating around. #oakmtg

dto510: City workers chant, “chop from the top.” Here’s a comparison of CA City Council salaries: #oakmtg

DIYGene: library supporter insurrection at #oakmtg !

oaklandscene: Councilmember Reid is trying to scold the crowd to be respectful, but it’s not really working. #oakmtg

DIYGene: feeling the @oaklibrary love especially for the tool library at #oakmtg

dudleypj: .@DIYGene #oakmtg did you get it on film? I might pay to see a #library insurrection.

DIYGene: i know the reasons why, but it’s quite jarring to go from the chaos and energy of the open forum speakers to the ceremonial items at #oakmtg

DIYGene: @dudleypj #oakmtg is shown on KTOP, so you can watch the video online or order a DVD :-)

Vsmoothe: RT @DIYGene: feeling the @oaklibrary love especially for the tool library at #oakmtg

tdlove5: Tried to go the the City Council Mtg tonight, but it was soo crowded I retreated home to watch on TV. #oakmtg

tdlove5: As much as these ceremonial items might be necessary. I probably would have been mad if I had to sit through them. #oakmtg

tdlove5: The Clerk just announced that the Council will not be addressing budget items this evening. #oakmtg. Yep, I would have been MAD after that!

tdlove5: Go ahead Sanjiv Honda!! Tell ‘em., he is reading everyone the riot act: the Council and the citizens for voting for them. LOL #oakmtg

dto510: Sanjiv Handa excoriates Council for scheduling too many items for public input, Mayor Quan for lying re: private mtg with gangsters. #oakmtg

dto510: Michael Morgan, conductor of Oakland-EB Symphony, urges support for arts grants, & wears Save Oakland Libraries sticker. #oakmtg

dto510: Green Party rep speaks for decriminalizing drugs b/c “the rest of the planet does it.” Umm… #oakmtg

MarleenLee: Thank goodness the special election is not on tonight’s agenda. Such a lovely evening for a walk! #oakmtg

dto510: Rental Housing Association rep Jill Broadhurst asks for more time to meet “neutral” Rent Board candidates. #oakmtg

DIYGene: yay recent #oakland grad speaking at #oakmtg . and yay 10 yr old (!) speaking in favor of @oaklibrary !

dto510: Watch public comment on libraries and other topics with video stream: #oakmtg

tdlove5: A 10 year old and a 6 year old read an eloquent and thoughtful speech asking the Council to #saveOaklandlibraries. #oakmtg. In awe.

dto510: City Attorney rep (no longer Barbara Parker, now Interim CA) announces appointment of Deanna Santana as City Administrator. #oakmtg

dto510: First time I’ve heard Mayor Quan say she wanted a City Administrator who had worked in California. #oakmtg

oaklandscene: Quan is introducing new city administrator Deanna Santana. #oakmtg

oaklandscene: Santana said she wants to work together with city employees and that she values their contributions. #oakmtg

oaklandscene: Nearly two and a half hours in and we still haven’t gotten to the budget. #oakmtg

matthai: @oaklandscene no discussion of the budget tonight. it’s been pulled. #oakmtg

tdlove5: @oaklandscene I thought they announced that they aren’t going to discuss the budget tonight? #oakmtg

DIYGene: too many connection probs with video … please keep tweeting progress of #oakmtg

Zoo expansion appeal

tdlove5: They had a GAD meeting, to discuss who will be President of the committee, and now back to Council business. Now expansion of zoo. #oakmtg

matthai: @oaklandscene my understanding is that council will not discuss the budget tonight. #oakmtg

matthai: @oaklandscene plus, the council has put forth no budget proposals. So there’s not much to discuss. #oakmtg

tdlove5: GAD= geological abatement (d? no idea) #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: tdlove5 GHAD. Geologic Hazard Abatement District.

Vsmoothe: @matthai @oaklandscene City Clerk sent a message today saying there would be no discussion on Items 9.7 10 11 12 13 15 or 17 #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: @matthai @tdlove5 The City has a legal obligation to hear Zoo apellants. That doesn’t excuse the Council ignoring the budget.

matthai: @tdlove5 zoo is not more impt. Council is just not ready given unknowns in union negotiations (my story) #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: @matthai @tdlove5 Many times in the past, the Council has discussed the budget before finishing agreements w/unions. It is a nonsense excuse

matthai: @Vsmoothe @tdlove5 … just to be clear, i wasn’t defending the council. Just reporting their explanation. #oakmtg

dto510: “Why is the zoo some sacred cow? I don’t know.” Me & the zoo haters don’t agree. I’m tuning out. Tune in: #oakmtg

OneSeanMaher: Oakland just hired San Jose’s deputy city manager, Deanna Santana, for city administrator. Door open for cleverness re: Batts? #oakmtg

tdlove5: @Vsmoothe @matthai Unfortunately I will be out of town June 28th when they submit their proposal. Will Try to follow in twitter! #oakmtg

insidebayarea: MT @OneSeanMaher Oakland just hired deputy city manager, Deanna Santana, for city administrator. Door open for cleverness re: Batts? #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: Zoo public comment over, Council now talking. CM Reid: When I first got elected, it took 18 months to resolve zoo issue. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Reis, cont.: This time it has taken even longer. Describes long process of meetings, attempts to resolve objections. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Reid: @oakzoo is a jewel. Supports zoo expansion. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Schaaf: I see no legal reason not to deny the appeal and move forward with zoo expansion. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: Council denies zoo appeal, expansion can move forward. Much applause in chambers. #oakmtg

Haha! RT @transbay: @Vsmoothe There are significant impacts triggering CEQA anytime any molecule anywhere moves even slightly.

New taxi medallions

Vsmoothe: Council onto taxi permits. Normally I would be all over this, have spent many hours on taxi regs, but tonight am too tired to care. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: @vsmoothe Too tired to care about taxis?! I have a feeling this item has a much more direct impact on your life than the zoo expansion.

dto510: Taxi regulation in #Oakland is really screwed up. Everything the City does just makes things worse or is otherwise asinine. #oakmtg

dto510: Like this proposal for new permits. I agree we need more permits, drivers are selfish to oppose, but what is a “temporary” taxi?? #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: @OaklandBecks Yeah, but zoo is at least interesting. Trying to get Oakland to do something sensible w/taxis is a route to misery. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: MT @dto510: Taxi regulation in #Oakland is really screwed up. Everything City does just makes things worse or is otherwise asinine. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: These taxi drivers are getting (understandably) upset and frustrated about the confusion over taxi medallions. #oakmtg

dto510: Almost all taxi permits in #Oakland are held by people who won a lottery in the 1980s. No relationship to drivers or companies. #oakmtg

dto510: Most of those permits are in turn leased to Friendly Cab or Veteran’s Cab, creating near-duopoly as well as irrational ownership. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: Oh no, #oakmtg has reached the 10pm mark. It always goes downhill from here.

Vsmoothe: I’ll say! CM Kernighan: The City has handled this “so badly.” Not inclined to issue new permits at all. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Nadel: Independent taxi drivers are bad off economically, not tenable to do anything to make it worse. #oakmtg

dto510: CM Nadel says she doesn’t want more taxis because it makes things worse for drivers – implying she doesn’t care about riders. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: I am for being fair to drivers too. And I agree the city has bungled this issue terribly. #oakmtg

dto510: There’s a lawsuit, a disputed will, a NLRB hearing – Council could end it all by revoking the 1980s permits and issuing new ones. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: But it always drives me crazy when taxis come up, the Council seems concerned only w/drivers, never a thought about consumers. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: @vsmoothe That’s because most of them never ride in taxis, don’t understand that many of us depend on them.

Vsmoothe: Full disclosure: I take taxis regularly. I just want to be able to call one and have it show up reasonably soon. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Schaaf: It is our obligation to make sure members of the public have adequate taxi service. #oakmtg

dto510: When we are saying drivers we mean TAXI drivers.

dto510: CM Schaaf – it’s not appropriate for us to determine who gets these permits. | hear hear! #oakmtg

dto510: Essentially there’s a dispute between Friendly and Yellow Cab’s owner’s heirs over permits, leading to fewer cabs. #oakmtg

dto510: But permits aren’t real property, they only exist as part of #Oakland’s regulatory scheme and are “owned” b/c of a lottery. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: CMs and staff keep describing the taxi medallion situation as a horrible mess. Yes, yes it is. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Schaaf: There are people who really rely on cab service in Oakland. Don’t want them left out in this. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: CM Schaaf moves to approve temporary permits. But so far no other CMs have agreed. #oakmtg

dto510: LOVE how CM Schaaf is pointing out that this discussion is b/c #Oakland needs taxi service for people to get around. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: Either the Council approves the temporary permits or 41 cabs will be taken off the streets. That would be awful for service. #oakmtg

dto510: Councilmembers generally wants taxi permits to be controlled by cab drivers. But without a big company, there’s no dispatch. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: If it weren’t for taxis, it would be very difficult for me to not own a car. Taxis fill transit gaps for me nearly every week. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: CM Kernighan: Some people talk about needing cabs for the public, but it doesn’t sound like drivers make much $. Must be no demand. #oakmtg

dto510: CM Kernighan: drivers make it seem that there’s not much demand. Staff: we think there would be problem if 41 permits were lost. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: CM Kaplan – statistically we don’t have enough cabs per capita, compared to other cities. Also we need more cab stands. Yes! #oakmtg

dto510: CM Kaplan: We absolutely don’t have enough taxi permits per capita as other cities. Don’t have enough stands either. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: Council approves issuing temporary permits, CMs Kernighan and Nadel abstain. #oakmtg

dto510: Council authorizes RFP for 41 “temporary” taxi permits 6-0-2 (Kernighan, Nadel). #oakmtg

dto510: I still don’t know what a temporary taxi permit is. How are the permits awarded by RFP less permanent than by lottery? #oakmtg

Public testimony on the budget

OaklandBecks: Wow. 107 speaker cards submitted for budget item, which Council won’t be discussing tonight. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: @dto510 I think they will be valid until the court issue is finally resolved, or two years. Whichever is first. #oakmtg

dto510: @vsmoothe Nobody is going to invest in a dispatch system if they can’t operate for more than 2 years. Consumers won’t see much benefit.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: I am planning to buy a house soon. I will not buy a house in a City without a good library system. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: I’m really impressed by @SaveOPL. It’s so inspiring to see such a well organized, fun campaign for such a good cause. #oakmtg

dto510: Library supporters have collected 14,563 signatures to support keeping libraries open. #oakmtg

dto510: I’m just now realizing how ironic it is that downtown’s 2 councilmembers didn’t support increasing taxi permits. #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: RT @dto510 I’m just now realizing how ironic it is that downtown’s 2 councilmembers didn’t support increasing taxi permits. #oakmtg

dto510: @OaklandBecks Because, you know, taxis are most used downtown. The downtown BID doesn’t like them though.

jameane: LAME! RT @dto510: I’m just now realizing how ironic it is that downtown’s 2 councilmembers didn’t support increasing taxi permits. #oakmtg

dto510: CM De La Fuente & CM Schaaf say the City Council has not proposed closing libraries (the Mayor did). Tho we’ll see…#oakmtg

dto510: CM Reid criticizes Mayor Quan for not presenting complete budget and handing so much to Council. #oakmtg

mcplanner: Thanks @dto510 @OaklandBecks @Vsmoothe for the #oakmtg coverage. I don’t have to miss council coverage even if I’m in Vermont!

7 thoughts on “The zoo, taxis, and libraries: Last night’s #oakmtg on Twitter

  1. Gene

    Speaking both as an Oaklander and as one who started following council meetings after seeing your #oakmtg tweets, thank you!

  2. Diane

    I confess that I am one of those who has heard of twitter but never tried it before. I assumed it was mostly people talking about what they ate for lunch. But this is really fascinating, I am going to sign up for an account before the next budget meeting. Thank you!

  3. Jonathan Fleming

    Thanks for setting this up, we need more of this in Oakland. Oakland needs more communication, Twitter is great because it helps everyone’s voice get heard!

  4. Brian

    I, too, haven’t jumped on the Twitter bandwagon for the same reason. This sounds like a great idea for BPAC meetings. Hopefully there isn’t another “oakmtg” at the same time.

  5. Zach

    Not sure whether I follow #oakmtg tweets for the updates or the wit & humor, but at any rate I appreciate them.

  6. PJ

    Your meeting tweets inspired me to watch my first council meeting too. #oakmtg is a tremendous service. Also, they’re really fun to read. I’ve never joined in before, but maybe next time.

  7. _Annabellle

    I have Twitter, but haven’t thought to look up council meeting tweets . . . Thanks for posting the heads up! . . . It’s a crack up to see how people summarize the goings on w/in 140 characters. My fave, “Library Supporter Insurrection.”