This may be considered a preemptive strike that has little chance of being successful.
The annual retreat of the Greensboro City Council will be held beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 at the ACC Hall of Champions at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. It has been shortened from the normal two day retreat to one day.
In the not too distant past, City Council retreats have been used for the City Council to spend a day together discussing issues, particularly thorny issues that they expected to be coming up during the year or even to discuss long range plans for the city.
Last year, however, there was little discussion by councilmembers until the final minutes of the retreat when they each got one to two minutes to talk about their priorities.
Some department heads had been given ten minutes each to make presentations to the City Council, but discussion by councilmembers was discouraged. By comparison anyone who walks in off the street at the City Council’s monthly public hearing is given five minutes, more if they demand it, to talk to the City Council about anything that pops into their head. So a department head running a $100 million department for the city received exactly twice as much time as someone who comes to a Council meeting to talk about a disputed easement on their property, a conspiracy between NC A&T University and Russia or a boycott of businesses not seen as friendly to the homeless population downtown.
The longest presentation of the entire two day retreat last year was given by the president of the United Way of Greater Greensboro Michelle Gethers-Clark and it had little to do with city government.
The retreat ended with councilmembers putting colored dots on big posters instead of a serious discussion about issues facing the city.
The one to two minute remarks made by city councilmembers and the placement of the colored dots were allegedly what was used to plan the 2018-2019 budget. The truth is that the City Council had little to do with the budget and the longest budget discussion was about how much money to give to the chosen few nonprofits that receive city funding and then how to determine how much money to give to nonprofits in the future.
The City Council spent most of the summer months discussing and hearing from the public about the new panhandling ordinance which although a major concern to a few, is not really the biggest issue facing the city.
So far this year High Point has had two major announcements about new jobs coming to the Furniture City, Greensboro has had none. It makes sense when you consider the fact that the High Point City Council has been concentrating its efforts on a major downtown revitalization project and the Greensboro City Council has been caught up in panhandling and issues involving the homeless population in town.
The City Council could spend Jan. 31 talking about how the city could help recruit new industries to the area. It could discus whether or not using one of its two meetings every month to hear anyone who wants to be on television speak for five minutes, instead of conducting the city’s business, was a good use of the City Council’s time. It could get a head start on publicly discussing the tax increase that is reportedly in the works.
But it is far more likely that the City Council will hear the same presentations from a couple of department heads that they have heard any number of times before and then spend the rest of the time putting colored dots on poster boards.