City Councilmember Justin Outling was conspicuously absent from the second half of the Greensboro City Council town hall meeting on Monday, April 1.
Outling left the dais about 7 p.m. after the whole meeting had devolved into chaos. At that point Councilmember Goldie Wells was ordering that people standing up and shouting at the City Council be removed from the Council Chamber. Mayor Nancy Vaughan was shouting that if people didn’t sit down they would be removed. Lots of people in the audience were shouting at the City Council and in the midst of that Outling collected his iPad and walked out.
As Outling was leaving Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann made a motion to adjourn which failed for lack of a second. Outling later said if he had heard the motion he would have seconded it, but he doubted if the motion would have passed.
Getting up and leaving and making a motion to adjourn are different ways to send the message that the meeting had gotten out of control.
Outling said, “The poor management of the meeting was a great embarrassment and detriment to the city.”
Outling said in his opinion one of the main responsibilities of the City Council is to promote economic development, to increase the number of jobs in Greensboro and increase what those jobs pay. He said that an employer considering bringing jobs to Greensboro could have been watching that council meeting and gotten the impression that Greensboro is a chaotic and disorganized city and not a good place to invest.
Outling said that he is always willing to listen to people’s opinions, but that at the City Council meeting he couldn’t hear what people were saying because of all the shouting back and forth and he didn’t want his presence to imply that he condoned that type of activity or holding a chaotic meeting.
Outling said that because the City Council has agreed not to voice their own opinions during the town hall portion of the meeting that he would comply with that, but that he would no longer sit in a meeting that was chaotic and out of control. He said, “Ultimately it comes to the point that I don’t want my presence on the dais to send the incorrect message that I am in support of the poor management of those meetings. I will continue to quietly and respectfully remove myself from those meetings.”
Outling said that there were rules for the meetings and he believed the rules should be enforced for everyone. He said that when a speaker’s time was up the microphone should be cut off and if someone shouted out from the audience they should receive one warning and for the second offense be removed from the Council Chamber.
Outling said that at the next City Council business meeting if the issue of the chaotic meetings was not addressed he would bring it up
Outling said that if the meetings continue to be chaotic and in his opinion detrimental to the city, he would continue to leave watch the meetings on television in the back in case he needs to come back to the dais to vote but that he did not intend to participate in meetings like the one on Monday, April 1.