There was good news for the public at the Greensboro City Council work session on Thursday, April 27.
At that work session, only five members of the City Council were in the Plaza Level Conference Room for the meeting, and four members were attempting to participate via Zoom.
The four participating via zoom were Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Nancy Hoffmann, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Sharon Hightower, and they had a number of complaints about not being able to hear what was being said or determine who was speaking.
Those actually at the meeting were Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Hugh Holston, Goldie Wells, Zack Matheny and Tammi Thurm.
While there were many complaints about the quality of the audio feed, there were also complaints about the video. Councilmembers participating via Zoom said that with the one wide angle shot of the room, it was difficult to determine who was speaking.
The public simply has to put up with the fact that speakers can’t be seen or heard, but councilmembers participating via Zoom had speakers move closer to the microphone and speak louder so that they could at least be heard.
Holston, who was in the conference room, said, “I can imagine watching the meeting on Youtube and trying to imagine who is talking and not being able to see.”
Abuzuaiter, who was participating via Zoom, said, “When the mayor or Hugh or Zack was speaking, we couldn’t hear them. We can hear everyone on this end but on the other end we can’t hear.”
When Intergovernmental Relations Manager LaToya Caesar-Crawford began giving her report on House Bill 470, Abuzuaiter said, “We can’t hear you.”
Caesar-Crawford moved to a different seat closer to the microphone.
Hightower also complained about not being able to hear the speakers in the conference room.
The City Council was informed that the cost to upgrade the camera in the room to be able to zoom in on the speaker was about $5,000, but there was no estimate on the cost of upgrading the audio system so that councilmembers and other speakers could be heard as well as seen.
However, since councilmembers have discovered that they will have to attend the meetings in person in order to be able to hear the discussion, it’s a safe bet that the system will be upgraded in the near future.