An overlooked question (even though it entered my mind– ha ha) regarding Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s decision to back out of the $30 million downtown parking deck deal with high-powered developer Roy Carroll: Does Vaughan have that authority?

Here is an aspect that seems to have been overlooked in the hoopla following Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s Monday, April 23 call to Roy Carroll to inform him that the negotiations were over to build a city-owned parking deck on his property at the corner of Bellemeade and Eugene streets in downtown Greensboro.

Vaughan, as mayor, doesn’t have the authority to cancel a deal approved by a vote of the Greensboro City Council, or at least that’s what a number of city councilmembers think.

This is not a topic that can legally be decided in closed session, and since the decision was made to stop negotiating with Carroll, who owns this newspaper, and start the process of building a different parking deck across the street, the matter has not been discussed in open session.

City Attorney Tom Carruthers could, in closed session, advise the City Council of the legal ramifications of cancelling the agreement with Carroll, but the political and financial aspects of such a decision would have to be discussed and the decision made in open session, as was the resolution to enter into negotiations and allocate up to $2 million for the design of the parking deck.

Remember the City Council voted 8-1 to approve a resolution authorizing the city manager to enter into a project involvement and cost sharing agreement specifically with Carroll’s development company, specifically on Eugene Street. The new plan conceived by Vaughan and former City Manager Jim Westmoreland involves a free-standing deck on Commerce Place, a couple of blocks away. It’s hard to imagine the original resolution–given the specifics–can be undone without—as Rhino editor John Hammer notes—another council vote in open session. And it appears some council members feel the same way.