It is extremely unusual for the Greensboro City Council to cut off a city department head in the middle of a report.
However, the City Council cut off Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) Director Hanna Cockburn at the Jan. 4 meeting when she was attempting to explain why the concerns of the business owners on North Eugene Street had not been recognized or addressed by GDOT before North Eugene Street was closed between Smith and Bellemeade streets.
First Cockburn said, “Many of these questions were addressed at the meeting on Dec. 20.” Cockburn did not go into any detail on how those questions had been addressed. Many of the questions brought to the City Council’s attention by business owners had to do with how deliveries would be made and how customers were supposed to get to their businesses with the street completely closed to vehicular traffic. Cockburn gave no indication of how the city had addressed these questions or why after the initial meeting there was no follow-up by the city before the announcement that the street would be closed on Monday, Jan. 3 was made.
Cockburn then said, “I am deeply sorry that these items were not addressed four years ago. I wish I had a time machine; I do not have one. If any of you have one, please let me know.”
Cockburn then said that according to the contractor the street needed to be closed to get the project completed in a timely manner.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan interrupted Cockburn and said, “I’m sure the contractor is going to take the path of least resistance, what they think is going to be easier for them. But this is an unusual occurrence because they have been through this already.”
After the flippant comment about a “time machine” the City Council didn’t allow Cockburn to speak and directed their questions to Assistant City Manager Kim Sowell, who agreed to contact the business owners the next day, set up a meeting with all the stakeholders within a week and reopen the street while the discussions were taking place.
Sowell did not request the use of a time machine to accomplish any of those tasks.