The Greensboro City Council holds its first meeting of the month on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber.
The City Council only holds one business meeting a month, and this isn’t it. The first meeting of the month is dedicated to a public forum, also called speakers from the floor on non-agenda items. It is the only meeting of the month where the public is invited to come speak to the City Council on the topic of their choosing.
Many of the same speakers take the podium to say pretty much the same thing month after month. According to a policy the council approved in July, one of those regular speakers should not be present in the Council Chamber. At the Sept. 5 City Council meeting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan ordered that Luis Medina be removed from the meeting for being disruptive. According to the council policy, when someone is removed from a City Council meeting for being disruptive, they are banned from personally attending a meeting for three months. However, while Medina cannot attend the meeting in person he is not banned from participating via Zoom.
The reason the City Council implemented the policy was that a number of regular speakers would take their turn at the podium and, after they had spoken for their three minutes, would start shouting out from their seats and be asked to leave for being disruptive. These same people were not disruptive before they were called to the podium, so they got their three minutes of facetime each month during the televised meeting, and then they became disruptive.
The meeting does have a consent agenda, which is supposed to be a list of noncontroversial housekeeping type items that don’t need discussion and are all passed with one vote. However, one item on the consent agenda for the Oct. 3 meeting became highly controversial in 2020.
The item is to set a public hearing on a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) of $318,000. This is a federal grant to the law enforcement agencies in Greensboro, Guilford County and High Point. However, in January 2020, the City Council voted not to accept the federal grant on behalf of the Greensboro Police Department. The outcome of that vote was that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the High Point Police Department split the money that was slated for the Greensboro Police Department. Since that time the Greensboro City Council has been accepting the JAG money.