Members of boards and commissions appointed by the Greensboro City Council may have to start attending meetings in person again.
At the Tuesday, July 18 meeting, the City Council voted to postpone to the Aug. 15 meeting an ordinance that required in person attendance to establish a quorum for all boards and commissions appointed by the City Council.
During the pandemic, the state government decided that nobody had to actually be present to hold a meeting. The City Council as well as the various boards and commissions met virtually, and according to the powers-that-be in the state, that was not only acceptable, but required.
People were told that on issues like zoning and rezoning requests often opposed by neighborhoods, that having a couple people speak against the request via-Zoom was as effective as having couple hundred people in opposition crowded into the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber.
Now that the pandemic is over, that is all being reconsidered.
The ordinance that was on the agenda was to only count those members who attended the meeting in person for the purpose of establishing a quorum.
For most boards and commissions, a quorum is a majority of the members. So for the board or commission to hold a meeting, a majority, or quorum, has to be present.
City Attorney Chuck Watts gave some background on the issue and said, “Now that the emergency is over, it’s kind of murky. It’s an issue we are trying to pay attention to.”
Watts said, “You see people on without their camera on, or on with their camera on as they are laying concrete, fixing pipes, in a car – I mean I think the challenges we are going to see is that people are not as willing to participate in these voluntary boards and commissions.”
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter raised a concern about what she called the “smaller” boards and commissions. She said that before the pandemic it was difficult to get people to attend a meeting but now that people can attend virtually, “we have everyone there.”
Councilmember Tammi Thurm noted that the Transgender Task Force and the Participatory Budgeting board, “are 100 percent online at this point.”
Watts was asked to come back with an ordinance that dealt with boards and commissions more specifically.