Around Town | March 2, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 2, 2012

Around Town

TWEET TWEET ... Explaining Palo Alto's budget problems or transportation projects in 140 characters or less is no easy feat, but that won't stop Mayor Yiaway Yeh and City Manager James Keene from trying. On Monday, the two joined the city's Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental in the city's first-ever Twitter Q&A — a chance for residents to pose pressing questions and get brief answers about city government. The questions varied from big-picture inquiries (What are your goals for 2012?) to the specific (one questioner wanted the latest on the grant application for California Avenue streetscape improvements). The answers came in wonky bursts. When asked about goals, Yeh responded: "2012 = Year of Infrastructure & Renewal. Open Data-Hackathons! Youth Health and Well-Being. Balanced Budget. Mayor's Challenge." Why are the city's revenues dropping? Keene responded: "Slow revenues = Prop 13 & sales tax dips as economy shifts to services." In some cases, the answers weren't as concise as they could've been. When asked whether he believes voters will approve a measure in November to legalize marijuana dispensaries, Yeh forewent a simple "No comment" or "Don't know" in favor of, "Not in the business of predicting outcomes that are determined by the vote of the people." At other times, officials were able to cram generous heaps of substance into their 140 characters. When asked about the California Avenue grant, Yeh responded: "The important project will be proceeding but grant funding at risk this year due to litigation. We remain committed." Officials said after the event that they were pleased with their first foray into Twittersphere. "There were many lessons learned, in particular, realizing that 30 minutes is too short for a session," they wrote at the end of the Q&A transcript.

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