City Council Member Gary Schiff (10th Ward) was a little confused when a friend sent him a text message asking to be added to his MySpace page last fall.
“I saw it and kind of freaked out because I didn't know I had a MySpace page,” Schiff said.
Unbeknownst to most of them, each Minneapolis City Council Member and the mayor has had a profile on the popular social networking web site MySpace.com since the summer, thanks to the host of a late-night Minnesota Television Network program. Hamil Griffin-Cassidy, host of “Totally Scrabble Tuesday,” a show on which he plays Scrabble against viewers who call him, created the pages with his girlfriend.
“I just decided I'd create my own feedback channel for them,” he said.
Griffin-Cassidy called the pages a “friendly form of subversion” and said they are meant to be fun.
“The point is to not be constantly hung up on politics,” he said.
Much of the information on the MySpace pages is not correct, but Griffin-Cassidy said he didn't intend it to be. Council Member Don Samuels (5th Ward) is a 101-year-old female according to his page. Council President Barbara Johnson's (4th Ward) page states that she is 24 years old.
Most council members are listed as friends of one another and the mayor on MySpace. Their pages are also linked to numerous other friends. Council Member Ralph Remington is friends with a lingerie-wearing woman named Gabbie, according to his page.
Remington said he's not worried about people thinking he created the page because MySpace is so unregulated. Someone made a campaign site for Remington on MySpace when he was running for office, the council member said. Numerous other politicians are the subjects of pages they did not create. President George W. Bush, for instance, has dozens of MySpace pages.
Mayor R.T. Rybak's spokesman Jeremy Hanson said he wasn't worried about Griffin-Cassidy's Internet antics.
“It seems like anything can happen on the Internet, and MySpace is a great example of that,” Hanson said.
Hanson and most council members were not aware of the pages Griffin-Cassidy created. The TV host said he would give out page passwords to council members and the mayor if they asked for them. Passwords are required to manipulate the content of a page.
So far, Schiff is the only council member in control of his page, but he paid for his password with an appearance on “Totally Scrabble Tuesday,” which airs at 11 p.m. each Tuesday.
“It was the most brilliant blackmail ever,” he said.
Since taking over his page, Schiff has updated his photo, added music and listed accurate background and interests. He said he plans to maintain the site.
“I need more friends,” he said.
MySpace is an online service that allows users to share information, photos, videos and music with a network of friends. Site visitors without profiles can also view pages.
To create a page or check out the site, go to www.myspace.com. To find someone's page, click on the “people” tab at the top of the page and type the name of the person you are looking for into the search space.
The MySpace site offers numerous safety tips including a warning that individuals on the site are not always who they say they are.
Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.