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Greensboro City Council Breaking Rules Of Order

4:41 AM, May 5, 2011   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- The video speaks for itself.

The Greensboro City Council isn't working together.

But we wanted to know what they're doing wrong that's allowing the verbal barbs and personal attacks from the dais.

We took the time to look through Robert's Rules of Order -- the gold standard for how governing boards are supposed to work.

In the section on "decorum in debate" on page 379 we found some obvious violations.

-- Members can not address one another directly.

-- They must refrain from attacking a member's motives and avoid the use of other members' names during debate.

But on top of those violations, we got some insight from a former mayor of Greensboro who said the council members are also breaking the unspoken rules of plain old good governance.

Former mayor Carolyn Allen watched portions of Tuesday night's nearly nine hour meeting in our control room and offered her critique of their behavior.

"I'm disappointed for the city of Greensboro. And I think perhaps a little stronger hand on the gavel might maintain a little order," she said.

After watching an exchange between councilmembers Dianne Bellamy-Small and Trudy Wade, she had a similar comment. "It seems to me a strong use of the gavel will be appropriate from time to time."

We then showed her councilmember Zack Matheny's retort to Bellamy-Small.

"That should not be part of city council meetings at least from my perspective," she said

News2 anchor Frank Mickens asked Allen, "So how would you describe some of the episodes that we see now?"

Allen responded saying, "Often, this simply lengthens decision-making and doesn't necessarily improve it....They're not listening very much to each other or the citizenry. "

FRANK: How do you govern if you don't listen to each other?

ALLEN: "It's hard. And I suppose we'll see whether the upcoming election produces any changes. That's one way citizens need to very much express their thoughts."

Allen said you just can't get business done this way and this is an issue of civility. And she said the council's discord gives the impression to the rest of us the council isn't conducting the business of the city the right way.

We researched the length of city council meetings across the Triad to compare them to the marathon sessions in Greensboro.

Comparing each council's past five meetings:

Burlington city council meetings averaged 49 minutes.

High Point city council meetings averaged one hour 42 minutes.

Winston-Salem's city council meetings averaged an hour and 29 minutes.

And Greensboro city council meetings averaged a whopping five hours and 42 minutes.

WFMY News2

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