You may not find this as interesting as I do, but it’s still interesting.

Greensboro City Clerk Angie Lord announced, on Friday, March 15, 10 days after former City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba resigned, that the media would once again have designated seats at a table for City Council meetings.

For more than two decades and through six city managers, the media had been provided with a press table for City Council meetings.  When Jaiyeoba took over as city manager, he attempted to have the media exiled to a table on the balcony where reporters couldn’t see the City Council.  It’s not that the sight lines were obstructed – there were no sight lines unless you knelt under the table and looked under the railing. It was difficult to hear what was being said and nearly impossible to determine who was speaking unless you stood up to look over the railing or bent down to look under – both of which are difficult to do while taking notes.

Jaiyeoba ordered that that’s where the media had to sit to cover meetings. Unfortunately, Jaiyeoba, who called himself the CEO of Greensboro, found out he was not CEO, or king. There is something in the US called the First Amendment that protects the rights of the media, and while Jaiyeoba was the boss of almost all city employees, he was not the boss of City Attorney Chuck Watts, who said the order banning people to the balcony because they were journalists was unenforceable.

What that meant was that the journalists covering the meetings had to battle for seats with everyone else and didn’t have conveniences like a place to plug in their laptops if the meeting ran long.  Fortunately, the city clerk did allow the use of electrical outlets, if you could grab a seat close enough for the cord to reach.

It was an inconvenienc,e and it is worth noting that neither Mayor Nancy Vaughan nor anyone on the City Council stood up for the rights of journalists.  The City Council passes many meaningless resolutions, but in this case a resolution for openness and transparency at City Council meetings would have made a difference.

And there appeared to be no reason for this ruling from Jaiyeoba other than spite, because the seats at what had been the press table were vacant during many meetings.

Jaiyeoba also requisitioned half of the seats in the main seating area for staff, greatly reducing the number of seats for the people of Greensboro, even though there was never a meeting when the city staff filled all their reserved seats.

One more interesting note that seems relevant with Jaiyeoba gone: During the two long years he was city manager, after the initial meet and greet period, Jaiyeoba called me one tim,e and that was when I wrote an article that began, “It is difficult to overstate the incompetence of Greensboro’s first Intergovernmental Relations Manager LaToya Caesar-Crawford.” If you are a regular reader, or even an occasional reader of the Rhino Times, you know that we don’t mince words and call them like we see them.

However, none of the other articles or editorials in the Rhino Times during Jaiyeoba’s tenure resulted in Jaiyeoba calling the editor of the Rhino Times.  And while the contents of the call were off the record, I will say that Jaiyeoba was not calling to tell me what a fine journalist I was.

The good news is that it appears the city is not wasting time in getting things back to normal. Now if the City Council would follow suit and put the property tax rate back where it was when Jaiyeoba took over as CEO, we’d all have something to cheer about.