The public hearing on the maps presented by the Citizens’ Redistricting Committee is the high profile item on the agenda for the Tuesday, Oct. 19 City Council virtual meeting, but far from the only item.
Once again the schedule for the meeting is confusing. According to the official agenda the City Council meeting begins at 4 p.m., but according to the agenda announcement – but not the agenda itself – the City Council will immediately go into closed session and the business portion of the meeting will begin about 5:30 p.m. with a lengthy consent agenda.
The consent agenda is supposed to be made up of routine, housekeeping type items that are not discussed and are all passed with one vote. If a councilmember wants to discuss a consent agenda item, according to council policy that item is removed from the consent agenda and placed on the business agenda for the next meeting. However, in practice Councilmember Sharon Hightower is allowed to discuss and interrogate city staff about any consent agenda item she pleases. So while the consent agenda should take less than a minute to pass, it can take over an hour.
Why Hightower is given these special privileges and why her fellow councilmembers don’t insist that the rules governing the meeting be followed for all councilmembers is unknown.
The “Public Hearing Concerning the Recommendations of the Redistricting Committee” is the final public hearing on the agenda, following one request for annexation and original zoning and several routine items that rarely have any public comment.
The Citizens’ Redistricting Committee repeatedly expressed its overwhelming support (6-1) to recommend the map titled “Pie Shaped Version 2 Draft Map” to the City Council for the new City Council districts.
Planning Department Director Sue Schwartz strongly advocated for presenting at least three redistricting maps to the City Council. Redistricting consultant Mac McCarley, an attorney with Parker Poe, told the committee that its charge was to present redistricting “maps” to the City Council precluded only presenting one map. The actual charge to the committee was to recommend a “map or maps.” The clear preference of the majority of the committee was to recommend the “Pie Shaped” map, but the committee under pressure from city staff and McCarley agreed to present two other maps.
Committee members expressed strong concern about how the three maps, only one of which had the recommendation of the committee, would be presented.
The City Council meeting is virtual and can be viewed on the Greensboro Television Network (GTN), on the Greensboro YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/CityofGreensboroNC or at https://www.greensboro-nc.gov/government/city-council/council-meetings.
To sign up to speak at the meeting via Zoom go to https://form.jotform.com/202643500426041
The deadline for signing up to speak at the meeting is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18.