At least they didn’t discuss the shape of the table, however the longest discussion of the rare joint meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council was about how to hold the vote on the Cure Violence program.
The meeting was held on Tuesday, May 7 at 3:30 in the Guilford County BB&T Building with Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson presiding over the meeting of eight members of the Greensboro City Council and six Guilford County Commissioners.
Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad asked some good questions about the program.
City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson sat beside Mayor Nancy Vaughan as she normally does at City Council meetings with the “Yvonne J. Johnson Mayor Pro Tem” name plate in front of her. But according to Vaughan, Johnson was at the meeting not as a councilmember but as the executive director of One Step Further the nonprofit selected by a working group of four councilmembers and four commissioners to run the program.
Johnson went into some detail about how the program would work. Evidently, Johnson, and not a member of her staff will be in charge of the program which according to the contracts being discussed will cost Greensboro and Guilford County a little over $250,000 each per year.
Johnson was asked repeatedly if the Cure Violence program would cooperate with the Greensboro Police Department and she repeatedly said no. She explained they would expect to get information from police, but would not share information with the police even if the Cure Violence interrupters knew that a murder was about to take place. Johnson said they did expect to have a good working relationship with police.
But what the group spent more time talking about than any other topic was how the vote on Cure Violence would be held. City Councilmember Justin Outling said, “This appears to be a partnership between the city and the county, to the extent we are doing it as a body, we should do it together.” Outling explained that they would each vote in their own elected body, but vote at the same time at the same meeting.
Commission Skip Alston said, “We have a different set of concerns. You all should handle your end and we need to do the same thing. You all set a date and then we can set a date.”
Outling said, “I think the appropriate form is to be done in partnership.”
Conrad noted that he had received the documents at 11 that morning and he wasn’t prepared to vote on anything while it appeared city councilmembers were prepared to vote.
Branson seemed to agree with Alston and said they could agree to vote at their next regular meeting or at their first meeting in June and the council could vote at it’s meeting.
City Councilmember Sharon Hightower said when they voted didn’t make any difference as long as voted soon.
It didn’t deter Outling at all that the rest of the room was lining up against him. He said if the program was going to be run jointly, they needed to be voting at the same meeting.
Outling got some help from City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy who said that the program was in the county’s domain and the city could not get out in front of the county on voting for it.
Outling said that there was precedent for voting together, because when the Guilford County Commissioners, the Greensboro City Council and the High Point City Council agreed to start the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance they all voted at the same meeting.
Outling didn’t back down and appeared to win the day.
After the initial objections, the discussion moved to when the two boards could get back together for a meeting.
Branson finally said that the city manager and county manager could sit down and come up with a date for a joint meeting.
City Councilmember Goldie Wells, and Guilford County Commissioners Alan Perdue, Jeff Phillips and Hank Henning did not attend the joint meeting.