The public will be allowed to comment for the Tuesday, April 14 City Council meeting, but the City Council won’t hear their words.
The meeting April 14 at 2 p.m. will be the first virtual meeting of the City Council and is supposed to meet the statutory requirement that the City Council hold at least one meeting where public comment is allowed by having people email email@example.com or call 336-373-3732 and leave a comment. The instructions note that people should state their first and last names, phone number and email address.
According to the agenda, public comments must be received before close of business on Monday, April 13. Close of business for city hall during the coronavirus crisis is 3 p.m.
The notice on the agenda states, “Comments received by phone will not be transcribed verbatim, but will be categorized by topic. Comments will be summarized during the meeting and will be posted at http://www.greensboro-nc.gov. “
The folks who speak during the public comment period at nearly every meeting probably don’t need to do more than leave their names, since regular attendees have heard their speeches often enough to be able to summarize them without any additional help.
The agenda for the April 14 meeting has 21 consent agenda items that, according to City Council policy, are not supposed to be discussed and are voted on with one voice vote. However, the City Council policy does not apply to City Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who usually asks questions and offers lengthy comments about the Minority and Business Enterprise (MWBE) percentages for contracts. Hightower usually complains that the numbers are not high enough, even in cases where the percentage exceeds the goals set by the MWBE office.
So while the consent agenda according to council policy should take a minute or two to pass, it usually takes far longer.
Other than the consent agenda, there are three resolutions that also appear to be noncontroversial.
At the City Council meeting on March 31, three city councilmembers participated by phone and Mayor Nancy Vaughan and five councilmembers were in the Council Chamber. This meeting is supposed to be set up for all city councilmembers to participate without being in the Council Chamber.