As the budget drama presumably comes to an end today, I have drafted a special "Furlough Friday" list of the top ten #cabudget #followfriday tweeting reporters, politicos and players that are a must follow for any Sacramento insider:
1. @KQED_CapNotes: John Myers with KQED is the grandfather of Sacramento's Twitter revolution. He was the first reporter (to my knowledge) to start Blackberry Tweeting from the back of the legislative chambers during the late night budget debates in February 2009. For many, his Tweets were the only way to follow what was going on in the after-work hours in real-time. Myers is the reason why many in Sacramento's Capitol community signed up for Twitter in the first place, and his blow-by-blow journalism remains a leader in the field today. Everything from who's saying what in front of "Mike The Bear" to what they're bringing in to the "Big 5" for dinner is covered - that's what I call in-depth.
2. @capitolweekly: Anthony York with Capitol Weekly is the consumate Sacramento insider, with connections in just about every Capitol office. With Twitter, we don't have to wait until Thursday any more for the latest edition of Capitol Weekly to hear the back story on how things played out. In addition to great up-to-the-minute coverage, York seems to find a way to find the "leak" and post the insider-memos that everyone wants to read. This budget cycle, @capitolweekly posted memos from both Republican leaders to their members about insider developments that were widely re-tweeted and reported on - and fed the need for gossip in the Twitter community.
3. @ShaneGoldmacher: Shane Goldmacher with the LA Times started off political reporting in Sacramento with Capitol Weekly, moved to the Sacramento Bee, and is now with the LA Times. At each paper he has been at the forefront of utilizing websites, blogs, Twitter and technology to get the word out fast, and first. He can tell you who the Governor's smoking stogies with, and where - which is often as important as what's actually in the bills!
4. @kyamamura: Kevin Yamamura with the Sacramento Bee has been reporting on the political buzz around town for years. He brings his same insights and observations to his Tweets as he has to his columns. For instince, Yamamura couldn't help but notice the "huge knife" the Governor was playing with in a Twit-video to his followers and asking whether it was "Symbolic?" given the state of budget negotiations. He's always an expert at helping his followers read through the lines...
5. @Schwarzenegger: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has embraced Twitter as a communications tool for getting inside insights out to the press. Probably most interesting though has been his use of it as a method for direct interaction with the public. Whether it's soliciting their input, or acting on their advice, you can tell that "The People's Governor" is actually writing a lot of his tweets (even if whether he writes every single one remains a subject for debate amongst the press corps). He's even acting on a Twitter tip, and will be signing cars auctioned off at the state garage sale to try to bring in some extra revenue - and undoubtedly some free PR. In a deal where every buck counts, he's using Twitter to find innovative solutions to the budget deficit.
6. @RobQuigley: Rob Quigley is Governor Schwarzenegger's Director of New Media. In addition to being the behind-the-scenes guy running the http://www.gov.ca.gov/ website operation, coordinating live web feeds, and orchestrating online outreach, he keeps followers updated on the latest happenings with the budget, and more specifically the Governor, via Twitter.
7. @ccleague: Scott Lay and Theresa Hena with the Community College League of California have done a really good job of compiling and Tweeting all of the latest in budget developments. Lay is also affiliated with http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/, which is a great resource for the Capitol Community. @ccleague has gotten their hands on - and shared - floor analyses' and other documents that are critical to understanding and influencing what's in the final budget deal.
8. @mrothfeld: Michael Rothfeld with the LA Times has provided Twitter followers with a lot of info on budget deals, particularly on prisons. Rothfeld broke the story of the details of a proposal to reduce $1.2 billion in the state prison system. Legislative Republicans disagreed that they had ever agreed to the details on prison population reductions, and almost blew the whole thing up. They agreed to deal with it later, and the train kept rolling, but it was about as close to a derail as we came in the final days.
9. @CSAC_Counties: The California State Association of Counties has been aggressively Tweeting for their members and followers. As a major player in the budget debate, CSAC has taken to Twitter to stress the impacts that the deal could have on county governments. With letters, calls and personal visits pouring in, they seem to be effectively mobilizing through this new organizing medium.
10. @ejschultz3: EJ Schultz with the Fresno Bee tends to cover political stories with a Central Valley angle. He has done a good job of posting the ins and outs of the budget deal as it has developed. He also gets good soundbites from the Fresno delegation, including the state's only "Independent" Assemblymember, to add some Central Vally flavor to a Sacramento scene often dominated by big cities.
While I'm sure this list is missing some big players and other influencial Twitter feeds, it's my best attempt as a press flack and Sacramento social media follower to come up with a Top 10 list. I'd love to hear any thoughts, criticisms, or alternatives. Please do Tweet me your #followfriday suggestions as well, with anyone I may have missed, to @seth_unger. And feel free to Re-Tweet or share this column:
RT @seth_unger Top 10 Must Follow #cabudget Feeds on #followfriday - Furlough Friday Edition! http://bit.ly/SFUBlog