The Greensboro City Council has been discouraging people from speaking at the monthly “Public Comment Period” since the council started meeting virtually in April.

The agendas for those meetings didn’t include any indication that people could actually speak during the public comment period. People interested in making public comments were provided instructions on how to send an email to the City Council and the deadline for sending that email. The agendas also stated that these email comments would be summarized during the meeting, which was not done. However, the agendas did include instructions on how a person could speak during public hearings.

Now the City Council has gone one step further and eliminated the Public Comment Period from the agenda for the Tuesday, Dec. 1 meeting, which is confusing because the agenda also states, “The first regular meeting of the month is for Council consideration of public forum comments, consent, public hearing, and business items as needed. Public comments may be submitted online via by 5 p.m. the day prior to the meeting.”

If you go to that website, there is another form that people can fill out if they want to speak during the public comment period. But, if the agenda for the meeting is accurate, there is no public comment period during the Dec. 1 meeting.

At the Oct. 6 meeting, some regular speakers at the public comment period of meetings – back when real meetings were being held – discovered that they could get some television face time by filling out the form, and for the first time since the City Council started meeting virtually in April, the City Council had virtual speakers during the public comment period.

At the Nov. 2 virtual meeting, there were also speakers during the public comment period, but it appears at the Dec. 1 meeting there will be none, because the public comment period is not on the agenda.

The City Council has not voted to eliminate the public comment period.