Councillors Mihevc (left) and Del Grande (right) talk shop with City Idol hopefuls

City Idol Contestants meet Reality

"This is the worst meeting we've ever had!"

That exclamation served the part of unofficial welcome to the City Idol contestants Thursday as Ward 7 Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti jumped from his seat in protest of the goings-on during the Council meeting; the Council having just spent the better part of 15 minutes (and most of the next 30) arguing over how they could make the meeting go more quickly. Remarkably, all of the score of contestants present (there are a total of 41 still in the race for the four candidacies) still wanted to be councillors after watching the session of council.

It was billed as an educational afternoon for the City Idol participants, both about the remaining contests and about what the next three years of their life might be like, should they be 'lucky' enough to win. If it was an education they were looking for, they recieved it in spades - from their tour of the Mayor's office, to a meeting with an Lotteries and Elections official, they learned that council isn't everything that people dream about; while they were suitably impressed with the large flat-screen monitor for the Mayor's computer, they were much less awed by the admission by the Elections official about the significant problems with the voters' list - it is not the same, more accurate, list used by ElectionsCanada, but rather one prepared by a municipal corporation, and rife with errors.

Dave Meslin and Idol Contestants strut down City Hall like they own the place

Aside from getting to watch the Councillors at work in council chambers, they also had two opportunities to speak to Councillors directly - Councillors Ford, Carroll, Giambrone, Del Grande, and Mihevc all took the time to answer some of their questions, and to pretend that they were taking them seriously.

They asked the Councillors all sorts of questions. Some were most concerned with the issues, or the day to day activities of councillorhood. Others prefered to question the Councillors on strategy, to find out when to start campaigning, or how much money they'd likely need to raise ($50,000 and at least 50 dedicated volunteers, according to Councillor Del Grande). To a person, the Councillors all encouraged the Idols to run, even if it meant running against them; though according to one City Hall staffer I spoke to, the Councillors view having an Idol run against them as a good way to get media attention, and siphon protest votes away from more traditional opposition. They also told the Idols that councilloring was a lot of work, a lot of late nights, and a lot of running on other people's schedules.

But lest they get discouraged by the weight and burocracy, Councillor Giambrone had these inspiring words for the Idols about city politics should they win. "Small things, like replacing a single sidewalk panel can be accomplished relatively quickly... two to three months". But still, they're hoping to make waves and become Councillors. Good luck to them, the races need some more energy and ideas.

The dangers of leaving your seat for too long at Council meetings - readings pile up

City Idol semi-finals begin June 1st.

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