The Monday, Nov. 4 meeting of the Greensboro City Council at the Marylene Griffin Recreation Center audibly demonstrated one of the problems with having the meetings offsite rather than at city hall.
The speakers at the meeting had a microphone, but Mayor Nancy Vaughan, city councilmembers and city staff did not. When councilmembers were reading resolutions at the beginning of the meeting, they went over to the podium to use the microphone, but during the meeting itself their comments were unintelligible to many of the people in the gymnasium where the meeting was held. Judging from their complaints, the people in the bleachers had a harder time hearing than those who had seats on the floor.
At one point Councilmember Sharon Hightower had a shouted conversation with Assistant City Manager Kim Sowell. Those close to Hightower could hear her questions and those close to Sowell could hear her answers, and perhaps the people halfway between the two could hear both.
The past five months have been a trial period for the offsite meetings, with one held in each of the five City Council districts, and it is hoped that with this one the City Council learned that holding a public meeting in a gymnasium without a sound system capable of providing a microphone for each speaker is far from ideal.
The City Council chamber in city hall is designed for public meetings and specifically set up for City Council meetings, where all nine members of the City Council have a microphone, as do the city manager, city attorney, assistant city managers, city staff members, and the podium where the public speaks can be raised or lowered to accommodate the speaker and is equipped with a microphone that can be cut off.
The meetings in that room can also be broadcast live on the Greensboro Television Network (GTN).
To hold a meeting in a gymnasium with one microphone just doesn’t make a lot of sense in 2019.