The Greensboro City Council held a “Lake Wobegon” work session on Thursday, Jan. 12 in the Plaza Level Conference Room at 2 p.m.
The sound quality in the Plaza Level Conference Room is worse than bad, so it’s possible that someone at the meeting said it. But if no one did say the actual words, it was obvious that the theme of this meeting was – Greensboro, “Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”
Work sessions, historically, have been where the members of the City Council discussed issues in depth and did the behind the scenes work for regular meetings. Councilmember Hugh Holston likes to call it “making sausage.” Work sessions have always been open to the public, but it has been rare for more than a couple of people to attend.
In this work session the city staff mainly bragged about what a great job they were doing and talked about how every program the city had undertaken in the past year had been an astounding, amazing, colossal success, although those particular words were not used.
During the presentation on Community Services by Assistant City Manager Nasha McCray, City Councilmember Zack Matheny attempted to ask a few questions and City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba asked Matheny to hold his questions until the end of the presentation.
However, when City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson started asking questions, she was allowed to do so and her questions were answered during the middle of the presentation.
One of the questions Matheny asked, once the presentation on community services was complete, was about what the city calls the Doorway Project, and what most people call the Pallet shelters. Matheny asked, “What is being done currently, right now, for those folks that you are going to displace in March?”
Matheny said that every year the city’s focus was on temporary shelter during the winter and then the people being housed were back out on the streets in the spring. He noted that this was January and the Doorway Project ends in March. He said it wasn’t going to get done, “If you’re not hammering that right now.”
Matheny also questioned the report on Guilford Works. McCray noted that, according to the presentation, 1,000 people had participated in the new Mobile Career Center program, but the report didn’t list how many had actually gotten jobs through the program. Matheny said that for him to be able to judge the success of the program, he needed to know how many people found jobs and how that percentage compared to other programs in the state.
Parks and recreation was part of the presentation and Johnson said that she still had concerns about the design of the Windsor-Chavis Community Center. Johnson said, “Some months ago I saw the design of the Windsor-Chavis-Nocho complex. It was beautiful, but I did notice the glass and asked what effect it would have on heating and air.”
Johnson said, “I want to know what kind of money that is going to cost us.”
Johnson also noted that she had asked that same question several months ago and had not received an answer.