The Greensboro City Council is holding its virtual public comment meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m.
The main purpose of the first meeting of the month is to hold a public forum where people can speak on any topic.
Since the City Council started meeting virtually in April, there has been a major change to this meeting in addition to it being held virtually. The public is not allowed to comment at the public forum meeting.
At the second meeting of the month, the business meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 15, the public is invited to join the meeting and comment on any public hearing item. Unlike the public forum meeting, comments are restricted to the topic of that particular public hearing. But if the technology exists for people to comment at public hearings, that technology also exists for speakers from the floor to actually speak to the City Council and those watching the meeting.
For years the City Council held a public comment, or officially “speakers from the floor on non-agenda items” session at every scheduled City Council meeting. Whether that public comment session was held near the beginning of the meeting or closer to the middle became a major political issue.
Because the speakers from the floor had become so disruptive, the City Council decided to eliminate the speakers from the floor from the business meeting and hold one meeting a month devoted to speakers from the floor.
However, the virtual meetings have allowed the City Council to eliminate speakers from the floor all together.
People who do want to comment are invited to send written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. The official announcement of the meeting states, “Comments will be summarized during the meeting and will be posted at www.greensboro-nc.gov. The COG understand the level of concern and passion during this unprecedented time; however, all submittals must be free of inappropriate language and submitted in a respectful manner.”
There is a great deal of leeway in that term “summarized.” Mayor Nancy Vaughan usually states the broad topic of the comment and whether the commenter was in favor or against.
Other than the public comment period where people are not allowed to publicly comment, the agenda includes a consent agenda with the typical consent agenda items that are routine and should require no discussion.