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BART’s botched PR effort to sway public on protests

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

imageAmazing real-life Keystone Cops tale, BART edition, as revealed in emails from Linton Johnson (pictured), the transit agency’s much-criticized chief communications manager, and obtained by The Bay Citizen’s Zusha Elinson. Here’s the lede:

In response to a planned protest Aug. 11, BART recruited loyal riders, prepared a script for them to read from, and hired a car service to take them to and from a press conference intended to sway public perception and media coverage, according to emails obtained by The Bay Citizen.

But only one rider showed up — and he didn’t need a ride, leaving BART with an $872 bill for two SUVs it never used.

The plan was hatched by BART's chief communications manager, Linton Johnson, who also took credit for another idea implemented that day: shutting down cell phone service on station platforms to thwart the protest, which never materialized.

Add: Included in Elinson’s story: the script for the ringer BART passengers, beginning with, “My name is __________.”

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