Thursday, November 10, 2016

John Hammer on Greensboro's incompetent mayor

The release last week of the recording of the City Council closed session on Oct. 18 proves that the city councilmembers in closed closed sessions behave even worse than at their regular meetings.

...It also proves beyond any doubt that the City Council violated the open meetings law.  The discussion of whether or not the City Council would view the records of the entire investigation of the arrest of Dejuan Yourse by Officer Travis Cole and Officer C.N. Jackson should have been discussed in open session.

...The North Carolina open meetings law is straightforward.  It states that meetings of public bodies must be open unless they are discussing one of the listed issues that may be discussed in private.  One of those issues is personnel.  But this wasn't a discussion of personnel, it was a discussion of whether or not to look at records.  That is not a personnel issue.

...The open meetings law states, "General policy matters may not be discussed in a closed session and nothing herein shall be construed to permit a public body to close a meeting that otherwise would be open merely because an attorney employed or retained by the public body is a participant."

That, however, is what this City Council did.  Because Carruthers was present, the claim has been made the meeting was held behind locked doors to protect the attorney-client privilege.  Before we didn't know if that was true or not.  Now that we have the recording of the meeting we know that it is not true.

This was a loud, unruly, rude, free for all gabfest about the fact that Hightower needed five votes to look at the details of the investigation into Cole's actions, a point that Hightower disputes.  She says that being a councilmember is enough for her to view confidential police records.

...Greensboro has a problem because Greensboro has elected a mayor who refuses to take charge at the regular televised meetings of the City Council, spends much of her time at work sessions sending emails and texts, and judging by this 22-minute tape, allows even more misbehavior behind closed doors than at open meetings.

...Vaughan not doing her job is one problem, but there is another problem - Hightower.  She is a problem at the regular public meetings, the work sessions, and now we find out even more of a problem behind closed doors.

Hightower doesn't recognize the rights of other councilmembers to speak.  In the transcript you can see that she constantly interrupts her fellow councilmembers.  Vaughan allows Hightower at meeting after meeting to shout down her fellow councilmembers..."