Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Is Amir Schmoozing With Now?

In its own words, Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What's happening?

After the jump, Twitter and politics.

There are at least 69 elected officials in Texas with Twitter accounts. Texas Tribune manages a Twitter list that makes it easy to keep track and follow state officials. Unfortunately, locally, Amir Omar is the only Richardson City Council member with an active Twitter account. For his efforts, Richardson residents can be grateful.

Council member Mark Solomon has a Twitter account but posts are few and far between. Mayor Gary Slagel also has a Twitter account but it hasn't been updated since June 29, when this tweet was posted: "The election is over. I won, thanks to a great group of campaign workers and a pupportive [sic] group of residents." Hmmm. The election was May 9. Slagel's gratitude was belated, his Twitter silence since then troubling. Could his typographical error ("pupportive" residents) have been a Freudian slip (was he subconsciously thinking "puppet" residents?). Maybe he'll tweet us an answer.

I hate to spoil my earlier compliment to Amir Omar for using Twitter to keep his constituents informed of his doings, but there's something about Omar's tweets that bothers me. Here's a sample from the last couple of months. See if you can figure out what my problem is (with Omar's tweets, not with me, please).

  • Enjoyed speaking to a group about the first 7 months & plans for 2010.
  • Quick drive by with Richardson's Young Professionals Exec Committee to pitch an idea that will build and preserve Richardson history.
  • Great meeting with Jon Shapiro w/ @TexasInstitue. Strategies to leverage our strengths for a better Richardson!
  • Great lunch at Russo's in the recent award winning Eastside in Richardson. Discussing founding a new nonprofit organization.
  • Great early meet w/ a key nonprofit on an initiative I'm working on. Partnering nonprofit, volunteer, & corp to do big things in Richardson.
  • Fantastic meeting with the Energy and Commerce Committee. Getting great ideas in almost every meeting!
  • Great meeting w/ Director of Natnl Council of the Churches of Christ. Ideas on partnering w/ Faith Based Communities for Richardson.
  • at L'Enfant Plaza for my meeting with the Department of Energy. Hoping to vet some ideas and pick up a few best practices.
  • Just finished a staff led tour of the Capital (which by the way is the way to do it)! Now off to meeting Congressman Sam Johnson.
  • Grabbing quick lunch at the Rayburn House Office Building before my meeting w/ Congressman Pete Sessions.
  • Very positive breakfast meeting w/ UT Dallas Professor regarding potential collaboration on visionary projects w/ Richardson.
  • Great meeting with Pres and Founder of DFW International Community Alliance about opportunities in Richardson.
  • Great meeting of the minds w/ stakeholders from organizations that will be key to my "Big Initiative" for Richardson.
  • Great meeting w/ the nonprofit foundation that could play an instrumental role in an initiative I am working on for Richardson.
  • Having second dinner with Richardson residents on E Spring Valley Rd. Love talking about concepts I am working on.
  • Great late lunch prep meeting w/ stakeholders on potential major initiative for City of Richardson. Big ideas really get the heart pumping!
  • Meeting with one of my Parks Commissioners for breakfast to discuss our vision for Richardson.
  • Great early breakfast meeting with ATT regarding a potential partnership with the City of Richardson. My favorite part of the job!

Figure it out yet? By now it's obvious that Amir Omar is a big schmoozer, but that's not why his tweets leave me wanting something more. Schmoozing is part of a politician's job. If the other six council members aren't equally active in attending meetings, business lunches and dinners, school and civic events, grand openings, awards ceremonies, etc., they are in the wrong business.

No, what irritates me about Amir Omar's tweets is his constant reference to all the big ideas he's getting, initiatives he's working on, strategies and vision he's developing, all without ever telling us what those big ideas actually are. He's a bit of a public policy tease, promising us how great it's going to be without ever quite consummating the promise.

To be fair, Twitter limits you to 140 characters, which must be torture for a gregarious politician. Also to be fair, Amir Omar will offer to meet with you face-to-face to answer all your questions. But if he can take the time to tweet who he is meeting with and how great his ideas are, you'd think he could occasionally tweet what those big ideas are. After all, eventually his readers are the ones who are going to have to live with them. I offer these thoughts in the spirit of constructive criticism. I hope they are received that way.

P.S. Yikes. I just used 6000 characters to say what I could have said on my own Twitter account with: "Hey, Amir. Quit teasing and lay your big ideas on us."

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