The bill to create a civil service review board for the City of Greensboro passed two House committees and the full House on Wednesday, April 26 without any comment from the Greensboro City Council.
House Bill 470, which creates a five-member board that will have the power to review and overturn demotions, terminations, reductions in pay and other disciplinary actions for city employees, also passed the first reading the state Senate on Thursday, April 27.
House Bill 470 amends the City Charter, which is the governing document for the City of Greensboro, and, although coming late to the game, the City Council wants to make its opposition to the bill known to the state legislature.
On the agenda for the Tuesday, May 2 City Council meeting is “Resolution of the Greensboro City Council Opposing House Bill 470-Greensboro/Winston-Salem Civil Service Board.” At the work session on Thursday, April 27, a majority of the City Council expressed support for such a resolution.
However, when the proposal to pass a resolution opposing the bill was brought up at the work session, City Councilmember Zack Matheny said, “Sending a resolution to the state will probably get this passed in the Senate as fast as it passed in the House. It will fly through the Senate as fast as humanly possible.”
Matheny advised that a far better course of action was for councilmembers to contact legislators and attempt to have modifications made to the bill that would make it more palatable. He said that the council should accept the reality that the bill was going to pass and attempt to modify it rather than defeat it.
Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann asked, “Does the City Council have any legal action that it could take, similar to when we had the legislation to change the model of our City Council?”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan, the only member of the City Council to speak in favor of House Bill 470, said, “Even though we won the redistricting lawsuit, we have been paying for that for a long time, and I also think what happened with the school board is affecting this and the swiftness with which it passed.”
Intergovernmental Relations Manager LaToya Caesar-Crawford said, “This is not on our official legislative agenda.”
Caesar-Crawford said she had not informed city councilmembers that House Bill 470 was coming up for a vote on Wednesday, April 26 because she only found out minutes before the committee meetings. However, both Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson and Fire Chief Jim Robinson knew that the bill, which was introduced on March 23, was calendared on April 26. Both went to Raleigh and spoke about issues they had with the bill before the Local Government Committee. After they spoke, the bill was amended to take one appointment to the civil services review board away from the City Council and give it to the two chiefs.