A group of around 12 protesters stood on the front steps of the Greensboro Festival Hall before the city council meeting on Monday, April 19. They held up signs criticizing the continued employment of city attorney, Barry Fleming, following his support of SB 202.
From inside the Festival Hall, the protesters could be heard chanting for his resignation. When the meeting began at 6 p.m., the majority of the protesters came inside the meeting hall while Mayor Glenn Wright read a short list of ground rules for public comments. The rules stated that no outbursts would be permitted while someone else is speaking, everyone must treat others with respect, all comments should be directed to the mayor and the mayor reserved the right to ask speakers to leave if they were unable to follow the rules.
The councilmen then approved the minutes for the regular meeting and executive session that took place on April 5. Then a supervisor’s report was presented, and it was stated that all reports had been submitted and quarterly testing had been completed. No negative feedback had been received for any of the submitted paperwork according to Mr. Cunningham who spoke in place of Brenda Burke.
Next, City Manager Larry Postell presented the council with amendments to the SPLOST IV budget and those changes were adopted. It was also announced that the first building permit on Cadence Circle in 10 years had been approved for a residential home, all construction projects in Greensboro were on schedule and the Boys and Girls Club would be celebrating its grand opening on June 9.
During the new business portion of the meeting, Councilman Morris Miller made a motion to ask city attorney Barry Fleming to resign from his position. His request was met with applause from the protesters but with no second from his fellow councilmembers, the motion died without action.
Five people took to the podium during public comments to request the removal of Barry Fleming. Charles Brown asked the council members why they are voting against their own best interests and called for Fleming’s resignation. Anne Koppelmann told the council that she had done research into the money that the city is paying to Fleming and Nelson, LLC for their attendance at their bimonthly meetings.
“A publication called ‘The Nation’ stated that since 2018, Mr. Fleming’s firm has garnered $73k from Greensboro City,” Koppelmann stated. “That’s $24k per year. You meet twice a month so in 12 months he gets $1,000 per session.
“I don’t understand why [the councilmembers besides Miller] won’t engage in a public conversation about what the people here and the people at the meeting before that are asking of you,” said another speaker. “You at least owe the citizens a public conversation.”
After the meeting concluded Councilman Miller told the Lake Oconee News why he motioned for Fleming’s resignation.
“I like to do what’s right. I ask God to lead me in making my decision and I don’t take any decision that I make lightly,” said Miller. “I take my voting rights seriously. My grandaddy told me years ago, ‘A man that can’t stand for something will fall for anything.’ I don’t fall for anything and I don’t try to discredit anyone. But I have people out here that I represent, and I try to represent them to the best of my ability. As far as me, personally, with Mr. Fleming, I have nothing personal against Mr. Fleming. I think he has been a great, great attorney for this city, but I just think it’s for the betterment of this city.”
Fleming declined to comment after the meeting.