Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan read new rules for speakers before the public comment period at the City Council town hall meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association building at 23 Oak Branch Dr.
Many of the speakers commented on those rules and some questioned their constitutionality. Several people also asked for and at least one demanded a copy of the rules, which wasn’t available, in part because the meeting was held offsite and not at city hall where copies could be made.
Friday, Oct. 4, Vaughan issued a statement on the rules and clarified some points.
Here is Vaughan’s statement:
Mayoral Comments About Procedure at Public Comment Sessions
In the light of our last Public Comment Sessions and with the feedback that I received from citizens and upon the advice of City Attorney, Chuck Watts, I have decided as Mayor to further clarify our procedures. I hope this will help to focus these sessions on topics that are relevant for this forum. To that end, I want to identify three areas in particular that will be deemed out of order for this forum. I also want to mention a general tenet of behavior that is part of the code of conduct for all of our boards and commissions and will be respected here. My purpose in doing this is to help focus these Public Comment sessions on topics appropriate for this forum.
Comments primarily focused upon the performance of particular city employee that I deem to be an “attack” will not be entertained in this forum and will be ruled out of order. There is a process for performance reviews and members of the public are free to provide any such commentary, for example, to the City’s Human Resources department or Police Review Board where that information might be appropriately addressed. This council has the authority to hire and fire a very limited set of city employees and all employees have a right to have their performance reviews handled confidentially. So the place for such commentary would be in the appropriate office of the city staff.
Comments primarily focused upon matters that are in litigation will not be entertained in this forum. Litigation occurs in the courts and I will rule out of order comments by individuals that appear to be intended to impact the litigation process through public comment during our meetings. This is not an alternative forum for promoting any particular citizen’s view of matters that are being addressed in court.
Comments that seem to be intended to incite unlawful behavior within this room or outside this room will be deemed to be out of order. This is a forum for this council to hear from the Citizens of Greensboro about matters of concern that can be addressed by the council.
Of course, the City of Greensboro is committed to promoting an environment that is free of discrimination, bias, and bullying. Thus, harassment, words, jokes, actions or comments based on an individual’s sex, sexual preference, race, ethnic background, age, religion, physical condition or other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated.
Conduct or actions which I deem to violate any of these requirements will be grounds for immediate removal from the room.