Client Discusses Attorney In Closed Session
The Greensboro City Council, during its Tuesday, Jan. 28 work session, went into an extended closed session in which it discussed the performance of Greensboro City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan.
The closed session was called partly because some councilmembers had complaints about Shah-Khan’s handling of specific matters and his overall methods of dealing with city legal business.
According to sources familiar with the discussion, among the issues raised in the closed session were complaints that the legal department was slow in processing contracts, that Shah-Khan gave bad advice on a reconsideration vote during the Jan. 14 City Council meeting and that he delegated an economic incentive issue to an intern or legal assistant, although at least one councilmember thought that Shah-Khan, or at least one of the attorneys in the legal department, should have handled it.
Sources indicate Councilmember Zack Matheny was the councilmember most critical of Shah-Khan. Matheny has pushed several recent economic incentives and complained publicly about inefficiency in the way they were handled by the city in general.
One source familiar with the closed session described it not as a reprimand of Shah-Khan, but a chance to set clearer expectations for him under the City Council sworn in in December 2013.
A councilmember present described the closed session as productive and positive, and Shah-Khan said he always welcomes a chance to talk with his clients and to get clearer expectations from them.
One parliamentary issue that was cited in the closed session was a vote at the Jan. 14 city council meeting to reconsider a Jan. 7 council vote to relax restrictions on gun owners with concealed-carry licenses carrying their guns on city properties, such as parks, to bring the city ordinance into compliance with a statute passed by the state legislature in 2013.
The Greensboro City Council needs six votes to approve an ordinance on the first night it is introduced. Councilmember Jamal Fox on Jan. 14 got the City Council to vote 6 to 3 to reconsider the issue, because he wanted to change his vote from a “yes” to a “no.” The City Council then voted 5 to 4 to again amend the ordinance.
Shah-Khan first told the City Council that the reconsideration reset the issue to a first-night consideration, and because there were only five votes to approve the motion, it would have to be brought up again at the City Council’s Feb. 4 meeting.
After checking on the issue, Shah-Khan corrected his interpretation and told the City Council during the same meeting that the Jan. 14 vote counted as a second reading, so the six-vote rule didn’t apply.
Shah-Khan wouldn’t discuss the closed session, but explained the Jan. 14 parliamentary issue.
“I advised council on that,” Shah-Khan said. “Any issue about that was corrected by me immediately.”
Shah-Khan was hired by the City Council headed by former Mayor Robbie Perkins in April 2012, and began work on June 1, 2012. Mayor Nancy Vaughan defeated Perkins in the November 2013 election, which also produced a very different City Council than the one over which Perkins presided, meaning Shah-Khan and other city staff will have to create new working relationships with the City Council.
Deputy City Manager Jim Westmoreland will replace City Manager Denise Roth on Saturday, Feb. 1.
BY Paul C. Clark
January 30, 2014
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