At-large City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy is expected to resign from the City Council at the Tuesday, August 17 meeting, according to several sources.
Sources say that Kennedy is resigning from the City Council in order to accept the position as Greensboro Neighborhood Development Department director.
Stan Wilson, the former director of the Neighborhood Development Department, resigned in May to accept a job in Atlanta.
Kennedy is currently the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, a day shelter for people experiencing homelessness. She has been the executive director since 2014 and was elected to the City Council in 2017.
According to sources, Kennedy has applied for the job and the decision has been made to offer her the position as director of the Neighborhood Development Department, which she reportedly cannot accept as a member of the City Council.
However, if Kennedy did in fact apply for the job as a sitting member of the City Council that could raise legal questions according to Frayda Bluestein, the David M. Lawrence Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government at the North Carolina School of Government.
Bluestein in an email stated, “I have generally recommended that if a sitting board member wishes to apply for a position in their unit, they should resign before the process begins. This is based on a very technical reading of [NC] GS 14-234.”
Bluestein added, “Because the council has authority to make decisions about contracts, it’s possible that this might be a violation. However, there is no case or opinion on this issue. As your inquiry suggests, it might make a difference depending at what point the person must step down, before it becomes a legal conflict.”
The pertinent portion of NCGS 14-234 states, “(a)(1) No public officer or employee who is involved in making or administering a contract on behalf of a public agency may derive a direct benefit from the contract except as provided in this section, or as otherwise allowed by law.
“(2) A public officer or employee is involved in administering a contract if he or she oversees the performance of the contract or has authority to make decisions regarding the contract or to interpret the contract.”
Interim City Manager Chris Wilson is responsible for hiring department directors and Wilson reports directly to the City Council.
The City Council only has the authority to hire and fire two city employees – the city manager, or in this case the interim city manager, and the city attorney.