The Greensboro City Council met virtually from 5:30 to 11:14 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 with one 10-minute break.
If the lengthy meeting proved anything, it is that a city of 300,000 is too big to govern with one meeting a month.
The City Council has been meeting virtually since April and seems to have worked most of the kinks out of a virtual meeting. But the storm on Tuesday night was not helpful. Once Mayor Nancy Vaughan got knocked off the meeting and several times Councilmember Justin Outling lost his connection and the meeting had to be delayed until he could get back on line.
Also at the beginning of the meeting, Vaughan’s voice was garbled to the point that councilmembers complained and she moved to a different computer, which improved the audio quality.
Even at a different computer at times Vaughan’s shoulders disappeared and her disembodied head was floating on the screen. At other times portions of her hair would disappear making her look as if she had a very strange hairstyle and at times Vaughan disappeared entirely.
Evidently, at these virtual meetings, public hearings can be held in many different fashions. The public hearing on the budget was held on June 2, with no public announcement that people could speak to the City Council, much less instructions on how to do so.
But for the public hearings held on June 17, there were instructions in the announcement about how to speak at the meeting and there were quite a few speakers, particularly on the GSO 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Whether the meeting is regular or virtual some rules for City Council meetings remain the same. By City Council policy any councilmember can remove an item from the consent agenda for discussion and it is placed on the business agenda for the next meeting. But councilmembers are not supposed to discuss items that remain on the consent agenda. The whole point of the consent agenda is to group noncontroversial items that need no discussion together and pass them with one vote.
However, the actual rule is that no councilmember other than Councilmember Sharon Hightower is allowed to discuss consent agenda items, but Hightower is allowed to discuss them, comment on them, ask endless questions about them and generally treat the consent agenda like every other item on the agenda.
This virtual meeting was no different.