The Greensboro City Council held a historic meeting on Tuesday, March 31 in the Council Chamber.
It wasn’t historic because of anything the City Council did. In fact, most of the actions taken was pretty routine. It was historic because it was closed to the public, but the media was invited to attend.
Dick Barron from the News & Record and John Hammer from the Rhino Times were the only people in the room who don’t receive a regular paycheck from the city.
The city staff at the meeting was also pared down considerably. Only City Manager David Parrish, City Attorney Chuck Watts, City Clerk Angela Lord and one other city employee were in the room for the entire meeting. Assistant City Manager Trey Davis was sitting in the audience for much of the meeting. Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson walked into the room and walked out. It was hardly even long enough to be considered a cameo appearance.
Three city councilmembers, Goldie Wells, Tammi Thurm and Sharon Hightower, participated in the meeting by phone. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Justin Outling, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Yvonne Johnson (wearing a mask), Michelle Kennedy and Nancy Hoffmann were all present in the room. Only having six councilmembers at the meeting allowed them to spread out. Outling sat in Hightower’s seat at the end of the dais.
Vaughan started the meeting by talking about the current situation in Greensboro, with an unprecedented stay-at-home order in place, and said, “We are in unique circumstances. We were all looking forward to a month of amazing celebration and what really might have been a turning point and here we are in unprecedented times. As of a few hours ago our confirmed cases were up to 52. It’s not a good trend.” She noted that everyone’s lives have been changed in one way or another and that it appeared things would continue as they are into the near future. She asked that people pray for those most affected, either by the coronavirus itself or by the financial hardships on so many because of the restrictions.
The only item on the agenda was the Consent Agenda, which included 49 items. And, just as with most City Council meetings, the majority of the discussion about those items – which by council policy are not supposed to be discussed – was from Hightower who, after all the improvements made and the money spent on the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) program, still has complaints about nearly every contract.
The City Council eventually passed every item on the consent agenda.
Kennedy, who is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, a day time center for the homeless, talked about issues involving the homeless and asked the city to stop private landowners from evicting homeless camps from their land.
Watts said that there were issues with private property rights but that given some time he would come up with a solution.
The meeting lasted a little under an hour.