Both Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Greensboro Communications and Marketing Department Director Carla Banks have responded to questions about why the newly reformatted offsite City Council town hall meetings won’t be televised.
But they don’t agree.
Banks in an email said, “GTN [Greensboro Television Network] has the capability to capture video on-location, but at the direction of Mayor Vaughan, the meetings will not be videotaped for future broadcast.”
Vaughan responded by email stating, “No, that direction did not come from me. My statement at the city council meeting, with regard to televising the remote meetings, was based on consultation with the city manager’s office. Recording off site requires a different level of staff involvement. There will be an audio recording and Minutes of those meetings. It is our hope that by being more assessable in a neutral neighborhood environment more people will be encouraged to share their interests or concerns. Our chambers are designed to record and capture city council business meetings which we will continue to do so.”
When you consider the number of city employees required to attend City Council meetings it doesn’t seem like a couple more should be a concern. There are at least 20 seats reserved for staff and this is in addition to the city manager, city attorney, three assistant city managers, city clerk, assistant city clerk, audio visual technician, courier, someone to sign in speakers and four or five police officers. Also, if it appears that there may be protests at the meeting there is a conference room full of police officers, out of sight but available at a moment’s notice. And it doesn’t county the security guards who are not city employees but wand people and examine the briefcases, bags and backpacks as well as being stationed at the door and in the back of the Council Chamber during the meeting.
Councilmembers will say off the record that what they like about meeting offsite is that the meetings will not be televised and without the lure of being on television they hope that the half dozen or so speakers that have been dominating the town hall meetings for over a year, will not bother to come to speak only to the City Council and those in the meeting room where ever it is.
Not only has the location and day of the next town hall meeting been changed but the location announced at the City Council meeting and on the City Council’s official schedule on the City of Greensboro website the “Ruth Wicker Event Center” doesn’t exist. If someone interested in attending the meeting does a search for the “Ruth Wicker Event Center,” they will come up empty handed. The actual name of the location of the Monday, July 8 City Council meeting is the Barber Park Event Center. There is a “Ruth Wicker Tribute to Women” in the Barber Park Event Center, but it doesn’t seem too much to ask for the city to announce the correct name of the location of the next meeting.
So for those who would like to attend the next City Council town hall meeting here is the correct information: Monday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Barber Park Event Center at 1500 Barber Park Drive.
As for the August City Council town hall meeting, what is now known is that it will be held somewhere in City Council District 2 at some date probably in the first two weeks of August and it most likely will start at 5:30.
If the idea is to make it easier for people to attend the town hall meetings, the City Council has an odd way of going about it.
Misinformation and misdirection are pretty standard when you are trying to dissuade people from coming and hearing what is being discussed.