Since the holiday blizzard that crippled much of the Northeast, Cory Booker has become known for rapidly responding, sometimes in person, to snow-covered sidewalks and buried vehicles. On Monday one Brick City resident wrote "lights broke on broad and camp st in front of wells fargo/wachovia bank."
Booker tweeted back "On it."
"Today I got reports of street lights that were out. Of a manhole cover that needed to be fixed," Booker said.
More than 1,000 miles to the west, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak got into the act with some Twitter "smack talk." As more than a foot of snow fell on the Twin Cities, Rybak told his followers he was "sick of @Corybooker showing me up during snow storms. I'm actively seeking walks to shovel, prescriptions to deliver."
Booker responded to the tweet with a quip of his own.
"Brother Mayor w/ the kind of snow u all get," wrote Booker, "I yield 2 ur snow-prowess - though after this yr I may have a thing or 2 to teach."
It was a light-hearted exchange, of the kind Cory Booker relishes.
"Even our former White House Chief of Staff [Rahm Emanuel] in Chicago and I have been going back and forth with some Twitter smack talk," Booker said.
Jokes aside, mayors across the country are coming to realize Twitter can be an indispensable tool in keeping up with constituents' demands.
"For any mayor, you've got to get out of city hall and communicate with people," Rybak said. "I carry my Blackberry and my iPhone with me and I'm tweeting around while I'm doing my work. People aren't calling on me personally to shovel everybody's sidewalk, but they are looking to me to be in touch with what everybody's feeling and one way to do that is social media."
In some cases, mayors can leverage their own celebrity to help their department heads become more efficient. Booker has more than a million followers and the Newark mayor, himself, follows more than 50,000 Twitter subscribers. That means he can connect with Newark residents much more rapidly than his senior staff.
"About a month ago on Bergen Street and Lyons Avenue, we had a bad water main break," Booker said. "I heard about it much quicker from Twitter followers who live in that neighborhood than I actually did from my own staff."