The Greensboro City Council has two major public hearings on the agenda for the June 1 “hybrid” meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The items are the $617 million 2021-2022 budget recommended by City Manager David Parrish and a fare increase for the Access GSO, the transit service for the handicapped, from the current $1.50 to $3 beginning on Jan. 1, 2022.
It is a hybrid meeting, which means most or all of the City Council along with city staff will be in the council chamber, but the public is not invited to the meeting and can only participate virtually.
This is also the monthly public forum meeting, the only meeting of the month when people can come speak to the City Council about any topic they choose. With the City Council work session on the budget and the death of Marcus Deon Smith prior to the 5:30 p.m. City Council meeting, it seems likely that some people watching those work session discussions would want to speak to the City Council about what they just heard.
But unless they are already signed up to speak, they can’t because this is a hybrid meeting and people had to sign up to speak by 5 p.m. the day before the meeting, which would be by 5 p.m. Monday, May 31, but since Monday is Memorial Day and city offices are closed, to obtain the privilege of speaking to the elected City Council about the budget, the Marcus Smith case, bus fares or anything else, regular people had to sign up by 5 p.m. Friday, May 28 for the Tuesday, June 1 meeting.
That may sound unfair to some people, but this is the same City Council that in 2020 took advantage of the pandemic and did not allow the public to speak at its meetings from April through September. So for the 2020-2021 budget there was no way a resident of Greensboro could speak to the City Council on the budget.
During that same time period, people and attorneys who signed up to speak about rezoning issues were allowed to speak, it was the general public that was not allowed to speak at the public forum, that by state law the City Council is required to hold at least once a month.
It is also worth noting that previous City Councils have held public forums at all of their regular meetings whether they were two or three times a month. This City Council theoretically holds one public forum a month the minimum to comply with state law but didn’t hold any at all for six months.