The video of the illegal closed meeting of the Greensboro City Council on Tuesday, April 27 is now available on the city website at http://greensboro.granicus.com/player/clip/4406?view_id=2&redirect=true
That video makes it clear that the City Council work session was in fact illegal and that the city knew or should have known that it was illegal before the meeting started.
The work session, which began at 2 p.m., continued until about 2:26 when the Rhino Times texted City Councilmember Justin Outling and notified him that the meeting was not available on the city website or on the Greensboro Television Network (GTN). The meeting was in fact not being broadcast to the public at all.
Outling contacted City Manager David Parrish, who suggested an email be sent out to the Global Distribution Network to inform those who receive emails from the city how to sign on to the Zoom meeting.
After being notified that the meeting was not available online, Parrish interrupted the meeting and said, “Madam Mayor, might I interject that while we knew that the meeting was not available through Granicus [the city website], we thought that the meeting was going to be able to stream on our GTN site and that apparently was not the case either.”
The problem is that even if the meeting had been available on GTN, it still would have been illegal because the public notification of the meeting said that it could be viewed by the public via the city website (Granicus). There was no mention in the notification that it could be viewed on GTN.
After a 20-minute break, Parrish explained that the remainder of the meeting would have to be postponed until the Tuesday, May 4 City Council meeting.
Parrish said, “And as Chuck was describing to me just a minute earlier, the provision in the state statute that allows us to do these meetings virtually or electronically says we have to describe a set location by which the public is available to view it. Since we have the server issue, that location is not available to us. Our recommendation is that we suspend this.”
The issue is a simple one. When the City Council holds a regular meeting, the location of that meeting by law must be included in the official notification. The City Council cannot announce that it is going to meet in the council chambers at city hall and then meet at the Greensboro Coliseum or in Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s basement. For virtual meetings the public has to be notified of where the meeting can be viewed.
This meeting was actually listed as a “hybrid” meeting, where the City Council and city staff would be in the council chambers, but it was not. This was a virtual meeting, where it appears Vaughan was in her car and councilmembers were in their homes or offices.
When asked by Councilmember Yvonne Johnson if the City Council could go into closed session, Watts said, “We can’t do it because we don’t have the notice. The notice becomes faulty because you don’t have the site available.”
Even after being told that the meeting could not legally continue, Vaughan and Councilmember Sharon Hightower continued to discuss council business until interrupted by Parrish who said, “I would suggest we stop all conversation with more than a majority of you online. The informational item with GCEDA, doesn’t give Chuck and I as much heartburn, but any further debate or discussion would not be advisable.”
With that, the meeting that was never officially called to order, as is also required by law, was adjourned.