The Greensboro City Council held a 15-minute illegal closed meeting on Tuesday, April 27.
The City Council work session was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., and it is assumed it began sometime after 2 p.m. and lasted until about 2:15 p.m., when the meeting was recessed until 2:40 in an attempt to work out the issues.
At about 2:45 p.m., the meeting was adjourned when it was determined that the legal notification issues for the meeting could not be retroactively fixed.
According to City Councilmember Justin Outling, the meeting had to be adjourned because even if it were live streamed on the Greensboro Television Network (GTN), the official notice of the meeting stated that it could be viewed “through the City website https://greensboro.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.” The official notice did not state that it could be viewed on GTN, which Outling said would make the notice “deficient.”
Plus, the meeting was never broadcast on GTN, making the notification issue moot.
Since the public was prohibited from attending the meeting and the meeting was not live streamed on the City of Greensboro website, as the agenda for the meeting stated it would be, and was also not on the Greensboro Television Network, not much is known about what took place at the 15-minute meeting.
Outling, in response to a text, stated that he was under the impression that the meeting was being live streamed on GTN.
The North Carolina open meetings law prohibits public bodies such as the City Council from holding sessions that are not open to the public. When the City Council does go into closed session, a motion must first be made in open session stating the reason for the closed session.
This was not a closed session and no one is claiming that it was.
The open meetings law was amended for the pandemic to allow public bodies to meet virtually without the public present, but those meetings have to be available for the public to view live. This meeting was not, which is why it was adjourned.
Outling reportedly notified City Manager David Parrish that the meeting was not available on the website or on GTN, and after about 15 minutes the meeting was reportedly recessed until the live streaming issues could be worked out and then it was adjourned.
City Attorney Chuck Watts explained by text that the reason for the adjournment was that the public notice could not be retroactively changed to inform people how to view the meeting.