The Greensboro City Council met at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21 in clear violation of the North Carolina Open Meetings Law because there was no public notification of the meeting.
The purpose of the 5 p.m. meeting was to have a City Council portrait taken of the current City Council, which includes At-large City Councilmember Hugh Holston.
The current official photo of the City Council includes former City Councilmember and current Director of the Greensboro Neighborhood Development Department Michelle Kennedy, who resigned In August 2021 to accept the job with the city. Holston was appointed by the City Council to fill the vacant seat in September 2021 and in the past eight months the City Council had not scheduled a photo shoot.
The City Council election is July 26, so there were not many opportunities left to get a photo of the current City Council, and the City Council seated after the election will be different. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling are running against each other for mayor and they both can’t win. District 3 City Council candidate Zack Matheny has no opposition, so it is extremely unlikely that he won’t be elected to the City Council.
But the failure to find time for a photo in the past eight months does not give the City Council the right to violate the North Carolina Open Meetings Law, which states that the public must be notified of all official meetings at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.
It also states, “‘Official meeting’ means a meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent, of the public body. However, a social meeting or other informal assembly or gathering together of the members of a public body does not constitute an official meeting unless called or held to evade the spirit and purposes of this Article.”
Having the official City Council photo taken is “transacting the public business.” A meeting to have the official photo taken is not a “social meeting or other informal assembly” and by law the public must be notified of that meeting at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Furthermore, for the past 30 years, the City Council meeting to have the official photo taken has always been a public meeting and the public has been notified of the meeting as required by law.
There was no public notification of the 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 meeting of the Greensboro City Council.