The Greensboro City Council is deep into the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” mode in the case of former City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy being hired as Neighborhood Development Department director by the City of Greensboro.
However, not everyone agrees that is the proper response. Former District 5 City Councilmember and current District 5 City Council candidate Tony Wilkins, unlike members of the Greensboro City Council, decided to find out if it is actually legal for a sitting city councilmember to apply for a job with the interim city manager who directly reports to the City Council.
Wilkins talked to North Carolina District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is House majority whip, on Wednesday, Aug. 18 and, after receiving assurances from Hardister that the legislature would be interested in investigating the legality of the situation, Wilkins sent Hardister an email formally making that request.
In the email Wilkins states, “This email serves an inquiry into the recent actions of the Greensboro City Council and specifically former member Michelle Kennedy.
“I am including the news story for details. While this action certainly appears to be unethical, my question concerns the legality of such an action. This inquiry is not meant to be accusatory in nature but I find it necessary because none of the current council members have made any explanation to the public.”
When asked what happens next, Hardister said, “I’ll go to our legal staff in the General Assembly and get an opinion from them.”
Hardister added, “It doesn’t look right. I could see it as being unethical.”
But he added that he would leave it up to the legal staff of the General Assembly to make a ruling on the legality of a sitting city councilmember applying for a job with an interim city manager who reports directly to the city council.
He said, “Basically it’s the boss of the city manager applying for a job.”
Hardister said that the legislature might decide to clarify the existing state law to prevent city councilmembers from applying for jobs in the municipality they govern in the future.