In Toronto, Twitter-savvy citizens keep mayor up all night

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When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford planned a public meeting to discuss plans for drastic cuts to Toronto’s budget, it became immediately clear that it would be a long night: ahead of the July 28 meeting, a reported 280 speakers had lined up for their five minutes to speak before the council.

Inside Toronto has a report outlining how residents took to social media to drum up more speakers, signatories to online petitions, and even food and water during the meeting to keep a marathon session alive during an all-night meeting between Ford, his executive committee, and the people of Toronto:

“Five years ago most people wouldn’t have known this kind of meeting was happening – wouldn’t have thought of attending it, and wouldn’t have been following it live as it unfolds,” said Dave Meslin, a longtime community activist who worked to help rally the deputations, and keep people there. “But there was a Facebook group for a picnic outside at Nathan Phillips Square during the day, and more than 1,000 people RSVP’ed.”

Meslin spoke to the committee at five a.m., lambasting them for holding the meeting overnight, in order, he said, to stifle deputations.

But in the end, 168 stuck it out. And Meslin said later that he felt the plan backfired.

“I think that the intention was that if it went past midnight no one would be there and they could cross off the whole list and end the meeting,” he said. “I think their plan backfired partly because of social media – a lot of people did show up.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.