For the second month in a row, Mayor Nancy Vaughan ordered a person removed from the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber for misbehavior.
Vaughan had been criticized in the past for allowing City Council meetings to get out of control, but it appears that is in the past.
At the Tuesday, Nov. 1 City Council meeting, Vaughan ordered security to remove Luis Medina from the council chamber for continuing to interrupt her as she attempted to correct some of the statements Medina had made when he was speaking at the podium.
Medina was shouting back at Vaughan from his seat in the council chamber, having already spoken for the allotted three minutes. Vaughan asked Medina several times to allow her to speak, and after he continued to interrupt her, Vaughan asked that he be removed from the meeting. Medina had been removed from the Oct. 3 City Council meeting for similar behavior.
At the first City Council meeting of the month, “speakers from the floor” are invited to speak for up to three minutes on the topic of their choice. At the second meeting of the month, the public is only allowed to speak on agenda items But the first meeting of the month has a short agenda and is primarily devoted to holding a public forum where speakers come to the podium and talk about a wide range of topics.
When he spoke, Medina complained about the City Council giving $300,000 to the Greensboro Police Department instead of spending the money on affordable housing.
His concern appeared to be about the $298,000 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the US Department of Justice that was on the consent agenda.
Vaughan said, “We are not giving the Police Department $290,000. That is a grant.”
Vaughan also explained that the federal grant was for the Greensboro Police Department, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the High Point Police Department.
The GPD will receive $168,000 from the justice department grant.
After Vaughan asked that Medina be removed from the meeting, City Councilmember Zack Matheny made a motion that when someone is removed from a City Council meeting that they be suspended from City Council meetings for 90 days.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter seconded the motion.
City Attorney Chuck Watts said that there were no relevant cases in North Carolina, but other cities that had banned people from public meetings had been sued and lost.
Vaughan said, “I think this is a topic worth a longer discussion.”
Abuzuaiter agreed that it was a topic the council needed to discuss and withdrew her second, so there was no longer a motion on the floor.
Abuzuaiter said, “We applied for and received a grant from the Department of Justice to make our neighborhoods safer. What is wrong with that?”
The $298,000 JAG was on the consent agenda that the City Council passed unanimously without discussion.