At least two city councilmembers want to keep the story of former City manager Tai Jaiyeoba suddenly resigning front and center in the news.

Councilmembers Goldie Wells and Sharon Hightower have called for a special closed session of the City Council on Thursday, March 14 at 1 p.m.

According to the letter from Wells and Hightower to their fellow members of the City Council, “The subjects of discussion are (1) a breach of The Separation Agreement and General Release dated March 5, 2024 and (2) the combined vote.”

There appears to be a problem with the reasons for the closed session.  By law in North Carolina all meetings of the public bodies, such as the Greensboro City Council, are required to be open to the public. The law lists 10 exceptions for which a public body may hold a close session.

None of those exceptions are to discuss a motion made and voted on at a previous meeting, which is number 2. The “combined vote” is reportedly the decision to vote on accepting Jaiyeoba’s resignation and providing a severance package of three months of salary and benefits with one vote.

The City Council actually didn’t have to vote on accepting Jaiyeoba’s resignation, and like everything else about this whole situation, that vote was somewhat unique. When employees resign, the employer doesn’t have the option of accepting or denying the resignation. When an employee resigns, they resign. Neither the City Council nor any other employer can force a person to continue working at a job after they resign.

The vote the City Council took on March 5 was actually on whether to offer Jaiyeoba a severance package of three months salary and benefits or not.

Item 1 also does not appear to be something that can be discussed in closed session. It appears that Wells and Hightower believe that someone violated the terms of the separation agreement.  If they want to accuse Mayor Nancy Vaughan or one of their fellow councilmembers of violating the terms of the agreement, they are free to do so, but there is no exception in the Open Meetings Law for accusing fellow elected officials of bad behavior.

It is possible that the councilmembers are planning to use the attorney-client privilege loophole to justify holding this discussion in closed session. But in the portion of the law that deals with closing a meeting to protect attorney-client privilege, it states, “… nothing herein shall be construed to permit a public body to close a meeting that otherwise would be open merely because an attorney employed or retained by the public body is a participant.”

Usually votes to go into closed session are pro forma. The vote on Thursday may not be.