If there was an award for ignoring the elephant in the room, the Greensboro City Council would win a gold medal.

During the March 5 City Council meeting, Tai Jaiyeoba sent an email to members of the City Council, resigning as city manager.

During the next meeting of the City Council on Tuesday, March 19, Mayor Nancy Vaughan did mention that Jaiyeoba had resigned when she introduced a resolution to appoint Deputy City Manager Chris Wilson as interim city manager at a salary of $240,000 a year, but otherwise the fact that Jaiyeoba had suddenly resigned by email in the middle of the previous meeting was not mentioned.

However, the resignation of Jaiyeoba was talked about obliquely at length.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower made a long statement where she recited the oath of office that she took when she was sworn into office and implied that other unnamed members of the City Council had violated their oaths of office. But she didn’t say how they had violated their oaths of office.

Councilmember Goldie Wells followed Hightower’s statement with a little more openness about why she and Hightower were both so upset.  Wells said, “I was a little bit upset because I thought some of the confidentiality that I thought should have been kept in closed session, and when I saw things in the newspaper, I was really upset.”

Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann talked about “strict parameters” of what must be kept confidential in closed sessions.

Although none of them came out and said what crime their fellow members of the City Council had committed, the reason they were upset was that both Vaughan and City Councilmember Tammi Thurm gave almost identical statements to the press about the reason that Jaiyeoba resigned, which was that he had violated a city policy for which other employees had been fired.

Hightower, Wells and Hoffmann appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the North Carolina Open Meetings Law, which “allows” governmental bodies to go into closed session to discuss certain issues. It does not require that the City Council go into closed session and the law does not forbid councilmembers from talking about what was discussed in closed session with the media. There are laws that require some personnel information to be kept confidential, but not all personnel information is confidential.

In the past, when a city manager has resigned, an explanation of why they were resigning has been part of the announcement. It was not kept confidential that former City Manager Rashad Young resigned to accept the job of city manager of Alexandria, Virginia, and it was not considered confidential that Denise Turner Roth resigned as city manager to accept a position in the Obama administration.

It appears that Hightower, Wells and Hoffmann didn’t want any information released about why Jaiyeoba suddenly resigned from his $322,000 a year job and don’t believe that the taxpayers of Greensboro, who will continue to pay his salary for three months, have any right to know anything about why he chose to resign.

But just because Hightower, Wells and Hoffmann don’t want a topic that the City Council discussed in closed session to be reported in the media doesn’t require other members of the City Council to keep information confidential.