Perkins said part of the problem was that at-large Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan, who announced she will run against Perkins for mayor in the fall, tried to spin the situation to indicate that he was not in favor of the speakers from the floor portion as part of her bid for mayor. Vaughan could not immediately be reached for comment.
Perkins' primary concern is that certain people dominate the public comment period with repetitive statements at each meeting, adding that some people speak so regularly that residents have come to know them on a first name basis.
"Frankly, the concern I have is that they are taking away from folks that really need our help," he said. "Some may want to come in and don’t because they don’t want to be in middle of acrimonious discussion."
Perkins said he did not have any specific changes that he wanted council to consider but that the discussion was "a function of being practical." While the majority of council is also frustrated, he said, the mayor isn't sure the issue will be formally discussed. Perkins also emphasized that he is not supportive of putting the speakers from the floor at the end of the meeting, a move made by previous mayor Bill Knight that was reversed when Perkins took the helm.
Here's the full press release:
GREENSBORO, NC (April 26, 2013) – City of Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins has released the following statement regarding proposed changes to the speakers from the floor portion of City Council meetings:
“Speakers from the floor are an integral part of our City Council meetings. We currently allow two 30 minute periods per month for speakers to address Council on non-agenda items. Greensboro’s time allotment is double what the State of North Carolina requires of its municipal bodies. I want to reiterate that I believe in the RIGHT of Greensboro’s residents to speak freely to Council. That’s why one of the first changes I made as Mayor was to bring the speakers portion back to the beginning of Council meetings – and it will remain that way.
However, the acrimony and repetitiveness displayed by some speakers has been a growing concern of mine. Moving forward, any proposed changes will be fully discussed and voted on by the entire City Council in an effort to hear the concerns of residents that need our assistance.”