Mayor Nancy Vaughan and other city councilmembers can often been seen checking their text messages during City Council meetings.

For those who want The Tanger Center for the Performing Arts to open on schedule, that turned out to be a good thing at the Tuesday, Dec. 17 meeting.

Coliseum Director Matt Brown sent text messages to both Vaughan and City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann during the meeting about two Consent Agenda items the City Council had voted to continue to January 2020.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower had included item 25 and item 26 on a long list of items she asked be removed from the Consent Agenda.

The City Council policy, which is often not followed, is that when an item is removed from the Consent Agenda it is continued to the next meeting. Often Hightower is allowed to remove items, complain about the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) percentages and then the City Council votes.   When that didn’t happen on Tuesday, Brown was evidently left in a bind because not only did he send texts, Brown came to the meeting.

When Brown arrived, the two items were reconsidered and Brown explained that he needed to get the contracts approved to get the equipment ordered in time to be installed before the opening.

Item 25 was a contract with Northstate Communications for the Wi-Fi system for The Tanger and item 26 was for the parking management system for The Tanger and the Coliseum.

Hightower said, “Anything with The Tanger and I’m not voting for.”

She did note that both had MWBE waivers, but said she pulled the items because she wanted to vote against them.

Both items passed on 8-1 votes with Hightower voting no, and a crisis in getting The Tanger opened on time was averted.

Vaughan asked that in the future she be informed if an item on the Consent Agenda was time sensitive.