The City Council is set to review City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba at a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The meeting is closed to the public, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give the City Council some ideas of what we think they should consider in their review.
Jaiyeoba has been city manager for seven months. In that time, what has he done to make Greensboro a better place to live?
Jaiyeoba waylaid the City Council with his proposed budget. The city manager’s proposed budget is supposed to be a budget based on direction from the City Council. The majority of the City Council agreed that a tax increase of 2 cents or 3 cents was what they wanted. Jaiyeoba came back with a budget with a tax increase of 11.69 cents over the revenue neutral rate. It’s not even close to what the council requested. Jaiyeoba used some accounting tricks and cut $1 million from the Police Department budget and got the tax increase down to 8.69 cents.
That’s insubordination at the least. He reportedly based his budget on individual requests from councilmembers, not the direction of the majority.
The extremely unpopular $25 fine for not rolling garbage and recycling bins back from the street was part of Jaiyeoba’s budget. There may be other surprises in the budget as well.
The City Council needs to inquire as to what benefits the taxpayers have received from the nearly 30 percent tax increase. Does anyone other than Jaiyeoba benefit from his personal assistant, or adding an additional assistant city manager to lighten his work load? What benefit is it to the public to create another city department?
The budget adds over 60 new city employees. How many of these benefit the taxpayers paying their salaries?
These questions should have been asked before the budget was passed, but everyone on the City Council was running in the July 26 election, which made the entire City Council more than a little distracted during the budget process in June. This review would be a great time to get these questions answered.
When they were campaigning, the city councilmembers talked about the need for more transparency. Jaiyeoba has taken the city government in the opposite direction. He refuses to allow reports and presentations to be posted on the city website before meetings, and at the last work session he wouldn’t even allow councilmembers have the report prior to the meeting. Councilmembers were provided printed copies at the meeting.
Printed, electronic, chiseled in stone – it doesn’t matter what form the documents are in, they are still public records. But when councilmembers receive electronic versions, they share them with people who are interested. Jaiyeoba reportedly doesn’t like the public to have access to the information prior to the meeting.
Jaiyeoba tried to have the media banned from the floor of the council chambers during meetings. He said he would allow media representatives to come down from the balcony after the meetings to speak with councilmembers and staff. He was informed of the First Amendment rights of the media and hasn’t tried to enforce his ban. But what is to be gained by banning the media from a public meeting?
After meeting with Jaiyeoba, the City Council should meet privately to discuss whether to give Jaiyeoba another six months or cut its losses and see if Deputy City Manager Chris Wilson will agree to be interim city manager until they can get someone more in tune with the goals of the City Council.