The first virtual Greensboro City Council meeting in history held on Tuesday, April 14 had a lot in common with a pre-season game.
The meeting had no controversial items on the agenda and no items where someone other than a councilmember or member of staff would need to speak.
One reason for holding the special meeting on a day when the City Council doesn’t ordinarily meet was to have a dry run before the Tuesday, April 21 meeting where a number of public hearings on controversial matters are expected to be on the agenda and people will need to be allowed to speak.
Holding the meeting on April 7 also allowed the City Council to meet the state requirement that local elected bodies hold one public comment period per month. The public comment period was even less than advertised. It consisted of Mayor Nancy Vaughan reading topics and noting how many comments the city had received on that comment, but not the names of those who commented. The comments were not summarized as had been indicated in the announcement. The comments are, however, available on the city’s website at https://www.greensboro-nc.gov/home/showdocument?id=45457
The meeting also gave councilmembers an opportunity to say a few words at a televised meeting and as expected most of the comments had to do with COVID-19 and the current stay-at-home order.
Councilmember Goldie Wells noted that the African-American population had the highest incidence of coronavirus. She said, “We already have so many pre-existing conditions it just makes us targets for this virus.”
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said that one of the reasons more African-Americans were contracting the coronavirus were the racist policies of the past and added, “We need to correct some of the racist policies that have made this possible.”
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said she wanted to echo what Wells and Johnson had said about the black community and said, “I want to say to the black community, please stay home.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said that she wanted to recognize Mayor Vaughan for all of the behind the scenes advocacy. She said, “You have worked yourself to a nub doing what is best for the people of Greensboro.”
Councilmember Justin Outling said that even though North Carolina had fared fairly well so far, “it seems like there are very few households that have not been affected.”
Outling also reminded everyone that Java with Justin, his monthly get together to talk about city isssues, would be held online at noon on Friday, April 17 on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VoteOutling/ .
Vaughan noted that they are not doing a lot of testing in the community and if people had mild to moderate symptoms, the healthcare professionals wanted people to stay at home and not go to the hospital.
She said, “We all want to get back to work as soon as possible, but we need to do it as safely as possible.”