Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 14, 2013

All a-twitter

So, as a commenter pointed out the other day the District released their counter proposal to AEA which did remove the PLCs like I had guessed, but had bumped their raise offer to 2.5% with the ability to reopen salary discussions in a year.   So here is how the numbers pencil out again with this new information

AUSD proposal
2.5% raise

AEA proposal
4.5% raise over two years
Year One Raise

Year Two Raise



So the difference between the two is about $600K.

And here’s what it is if I use the rounded $1.2 million number for the two years:

AUSD proposal
2% raise

AEA proposal
4.5% raise over two years
Year One Raise

Year Two Raise



This difference is even smaller.

So this new proposal from AUSD was rejected by AEA and as AEA stated in their press release and now AEA has declared an impasse.   I guess I’m puzzled by the fact that the District and AEA is going into impasse over $450-600K.   I feel like that is a hurdle that could be worked out via more discussion.

But this is just more of the dysfunction that has sort of become the hallmark of anything dealing with school related issues and Tuesday night’s School Board meeting was just yet another example of it.   But I’ll get into more detail tomorrow after my annoyance subsides a bit.    I will, however, talk about this little bit, which I found amusing.      So on Tuesday night, Michele Ellson of the Alamedan tweeted out this:

Which was funny because, one: it appears that Mike McMahon was following Twitter while on the dais. And two, because Boardmember Margie Sherratt might have been following along too because after he made the comment she said “that’s not what you mean, I know that.”  Edited to add:  turns out no one was on Twitter, Mike McMahon was simply immediately self-reflective and Margie Sherratt simply really paying attention and being supportive.

The tweet that Mike McMahon claimed was misrepresented was this one:

And after he made his comment about the misrepresentation, she then tweeted out this:

Here’s the thing.   While technically, he did say that, the stuff in quotes, it’s like those bits on the Daily Show.  You know the ones I’m referring to, where Jon Stewart slams the folks over at Fox News for taking a quote out of context and creating a narrative around that without playing the next part.   Because taken alone, Mike McMahon’s comments seem quite dickish.   Context is everything.   Anyone can make anyone’s quote look like an assholish statement if you remove context.   Here’s what he said immediately after:

And we need to be able to figure out a way to balance the need for input with the ability to make decisions and move forward.

Less, less dickish when taken with context.   Honestly, both quotes from Mike McMahon are quotable.   But the editorial decision made to select the dickish sounding one is interesting.

Here’s the larger point that Mike McMahon was trying to make, and honestly given the community of Alameda, it’s a completely fair assessment.   His point is you can have as many community meetings as you want, but what it all comes down to is that the conversation will continue to be rebooted because there is a lack of trust on the part of some members on the School Board with regard to information presented by staff.   Unless we get an agreed set of facts by a “neutral-ish” party it doesn’t really matter how many meetings are had on the issue  or how much input, the fact is a decision has to be made, and until everyone is on the same page, fact wise, a million pieces of feedback won’t facilitate a decision by the people (aka the School Board) who are charged with making decisions.



  1. To clarify, I was not following the Twitter stream while I was on the dias. However, I did realize when I made the comments about our role as Board members, I know the quote could be used to make me look like someone who does not value civic engagement. I believe my in my ten years of service I have worked hard to ensure interested parties are made aware of upcoming Board actions and I have made my decisions based on the input from all stakeholders.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — February 14, 2013 @ 7:06 am

  2. Thanks for the clarification Mike, good immediate self-reflection though. 🙂

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 14, 2013 @ 7:09 am

  3. While I appreciate community members who use Twitter to report on public meetings — and I’ve done it a few times myself — I’m finding it is not an entirely reliable journalistic tool.

    Here’s why: before Twitter, reporters would sit in the audience and write down what was being said, either by hand or, more recently, on laptops. Because we learned to write really fast (emphasis on “really fast”) we were able to capture most of what was being said. Then we would go back to the office, review our notes, and write up a story — with the context of the entire meeting in our heads. If we realized we had missed part of a quote and we had a little time, we could check with the source the next day before running the story. We still had the opportunity to make people look like dicks, but hopefully time, space, and journalistic ethics would help us do the right thing.

    With Twitter, we’re trying to send out 140-character summaries of the action as it’s happening. And the moment we’re writing the first part of, say, a board member’s quote, we’re unable to hear what else he or she says. So we can’t capture the whole quote. If we’re responding to other community members on Twitter, or looking up background info, or answering emails at the same time (all easy to do on smart phones or laptops), our attention is further divided and we miss still more of what’s going on.

    I’m not really laying blame here; I think it’s a matter of how the human brain works. (E.g,. there have been some interesting studies on just how distracted drivers are by talking on their cell phones or texting — the results show we really can’t pay attention to two things at once.)

    The other issue is that once an erroneous quote is sent out on Twitter, one’s political foes can pick it up and use it as ammunition by saying “Look! This reporter tweeted it! It must be true!” I’ll bet you dollars to donuts people who don’t like Mike McMahon will be using that quote against him for years to come. It’s a shame — he really does reach out to the community a lot to get ideas and feedback, And I actually think he’s right to add that at a certain point board members “need to be able to figure out a way to balance the need for input with the ability to make decisions and move forward.”

    I’m not against Twitter, btw. I use it a little myself and I think it has lots of really constructive uses. But as a reporting tool, I think we need to be mindful about how we’re using it and what we’re sending out to the public.

    Comment by Susan Davis — February 14, 2013 @ 8:18 am

  4. And yes I did receive EMails the following day questioning my comment regarding not listening to the public and asking me to explain myself.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — February 14, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  5. I’ve heard David Carr the NYTimes media critic talk about how he thought Twitter was completely stupid until time passed and he began to see it’s value, which includes real time communication between people attending the same public meeting. A friend talked about being at the climate summit in Copenhagen and reading tweets from the likes of Bill McKibben. I’ve been at meetings in Alameda where people in the gallery appeared to be texting each other so madly it was distracting to even watch. Here is one interesting tid bid to reflect on:

    Comment by MI — February 14, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  6. #4, Thanks to this blogspace, you get to clarify. I think you had a very good point regarding input vs. decisionmaking. And I think you can keep referring back to this page – both because of Lauren’s post explaining how there was a follow up comment that contextualized your intentions perfectly, but also,

    #3 Susan Davis’ well written description of the common, well-intentioned mistakes that can happen on Twitter. Susan, I know you used to have a blog, but do you now? I would totally read that.

    Comment by KP — February 14, 2013 @ 9:00 am

  7. There have been reports that, during Council meetings, some Councilmembers are receiving electronic messages on their hand-held devices while sitting on the dais, pending a vote. Having never sent a tweet or text message myself, I don’t know how easy this is to do, but if it is happening. it seems to be a form of secret LOBBYING, invisible to the public. Which it seems to me, should be Unlawful under the Brown Act, Open Government Code or some such statute. Who needs a closed door smoke filled room to make deals in. when it can be done in plain sight, right on the dais?
    Ban all use of hand-held devices by elected/appointed City officials while they’re sitting on the dais, I say.

    Comment by vigi — February 14, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  8. #6, Thank you, KP. Lauren, John Knox White, and I shared the In Alameda blog for 2.5 years. It was great fun while it lasted, but eventually we found it too hard to maintain a daily blog while also tending to our jobs and families.

    Clearly I miss it a little, since I seem to be capable of writing a comment that is nearly as long as Lauren’s original blog post. 🙂

    Comment by Susan Davis — February 14, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  9. Quite a while back there was a big issue on this Blog when Elliott Gorelick responded to something here during the course of Hospital Board Meeting. I don’t have the link but I remember it quite well. It went on and on. I guess that practice only applies to certain individuals and not others.

    Comment by frank — February 14, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  10. I clarified my original post to note that neither School Board member was on Twitter which was confirmed by a third party.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 14, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  11. Well following the ‘timeline’ in the original live Twitter Feed Michele’s ‘first tweet’ shows 10:37 PM with Mike’s comment via Michele’s subsequent tweet three minutes later at 10:40 PM. I find that confusing.

    Comment by frank — February 14, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  12. I believe the 10:37 tweet (somehow it shows as 6:37 on my feed) was a paraphrase that might have been several minutes behind the live meeting because from Mike McMahon’s initial statement there was a bit more discussion before he made the comment about being misrepresented on Twitter.

    Given that at the last meeting Mike McMahon’s comments were taken out of context as well it’s no wonder he might have been hypersensitive about how his comments might have been perceived and used against him.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 14, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at