The most notable aspect of the virtual Greensboro City Council meeting on Monday, August 3 was the difficulty with the internet.
The City Council started meeting virtually in April, so this wasn’t the first rodeo for the councilmembers or the city staff. In fact, this was the 13th virtual meeting.
In the past, some of the meetings have been completed with hardly a glitch, but not this one. Mayor Nancy Vaughan disappeared from the screen in part and completely several times. At other times you couldn’t see her but you could hear her or hear something but it was difficult to make out the words, and at least once she was dropped from the meeting all together. Councilmember Michelle Kennedy got dropped from the meeting several times.
There was also an unusual amount of background noise, but that may have been from councilmembers leaving their mics on when they weren’t speaking.
At the end of the meeting Vaughan asked for a motion to adjourn and got several, but evidently she could not hear the councilmembers and said, “Ok, we can just stay here.” After a brief bit of confusion, Vaughan did hear someone and declared the meeting adjourned.
After adjournment there was one final statement on the broadcast and it was Councilmember Sharon Hightower saying, “Let’s get the internet fixed.”
It might not be considered best practices to hold a virtual meeting with a hurricane on the way.
But if the City Council could pick a meeting to have internet problems, this would have been a good one to pick. The meeting lasted less than an hour and there were no discussions of any length about any business item on the agenda.
The City Council did approve two construction contracts and both met their Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) office goals, so there was no long discussion about MWBE “goal setting.”
In fact, on the motion to approve the $2.7 million contract with Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. for the Groometown Road Waster Booster Station, Hightower said, “I’ll second it only because it has good MWBE. A great example of what it is supposed to be.”
The vote to approve the contract was 8-0.
During council comments, Councilmember Justin Outling reminded business owners that the last day to apply for federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money was August 8. He also said, “The city has a wonderful resource on its website.” Outling said that city website outlined the resources available for businesses at the federal, state and local level.
Both Councilmembers Tammi Thurm and Yvonne Johnson left the meeting early, but since all the votes were unanimous, it didn’t make any material difference.
The City Council met on Monday because way back in pre-coronavirus times, when the meeting schedule for the year was approved, National Night Out was scheduled for Tuesday, August 4. The City Council meeting was pushed back to Monday, to enable councilmembers to attend National Night Out events, but National Night Out was postponed to Tuesday, Oct. 6.