At the Tuesday, May 18 City Council meeting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan participated virtually and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson chaired the meeting.
Johnson – who was mayor from 2007 to 2009 and has been mayor pro tem on and off since the 1990s – has her own distinct style of running meetings.
Johnson began the meeting by saying, “The mayor is on Zoom. She has a little stomach problem which is why she is not here.” That statement resulted in a lot of laughter from her fellow councilmembers and the few staff members in the audience and pretty much set the tone for the meeting.
Johnson also started the meeting by asking Councilmember Michelle Kennedy to lead the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. Kennedy refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance, although she does stand. So Kennedy declined and Councilmember Justin Outling led the pledge.
This meetings was hybrid, which means some but not necessarily all councilmembers are in the chamber and the public participates by Zoom. At this meeting Vaughan and Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter participated virtually. But because it was a hybrid meeting, all the votes taken by the council were supposed to be roll call votes, which are tedious and take a lot of time. Johnson, who likes to keep meetings moving along, decided that they could vote by a show of hands on some items and a voice vote on others.
Johnson also throws a lot of the formality of meetings out the window. When calling for votes Johnson usually called for a vote from “Mayor Vaughan” followed by “Abuzuaiter,” not “Councilwoman Abuzuaiter” or “Ms. Abuzuaiter” or even “Marikay Abuzuaiter” but simply “Abuzuaiter.” For one vote Johnson called all the councilmembers by their first names except for Mayor Nancy Vaughan who had to be distinguished from Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann.
Johnson, who as noted likes to keep the meeting moving along, also held votes on items 24 and 25 before holding the public hearing, which confused everyone for a while. City Manager David Parrish finally stepped in and straightened things out. The public hearing was held after the vote.
The City Council also voted to continue an item on setting the date for the Nov. 2, 2021 City Council election and then heard the two speakers who had signed up to speak on the item.
On a routine item where the amount was $2,551,355.68, Johnson said, “Can we just round that to 70 cents?” City staff evidently didn’t agree and Johnson said, “Some people have no sense of humor. If you can’t laugh you’ll be in bad shape.”