JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has filed the final briefing in a Mississippi Supreme Court case that could determine the breadth of his veto powers.
On Monday, attorneys for the mayor filed their response to the city council’s arguments that the mayor cannot veto a negative vote of the council.
This summer, a special appointed judge ruled the mayor could not. The mayor appealed that decision to the state’s highest court.
At the heart of the matter is the protracted battle between the mayor and council over who will haul Jackson’s trash.
The council rejected the mayor’s request to issue an emergency contract to Richard’s Disposal. Lumumba vetoed the decision and told the company to begin work anyway, citing a now-vacated judge’s decision that gave him a pathway to bring the firm on. The council then filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court to block it.
This summer, special appointed Judge Larry Roberts ruled in favor of the council, saying a no vote means there’s nothing there for the mayor to veto.
In his November 1 filing with the Supreme Court, though, Lumumba argues that city code “specifically addresses how the… city council [votes] on ordinances or resolutions, the laws of the municipality, which require an affirmative vote of ‘that portion of the council dictated by state law under the circumstances.’”
He goes on to state that the order awarding a one-year contract to Richard’s was not an ordinance or resolution, but an order, and that city code “does not provide the procedure for the adoption of orders or other official actions of the city council.”
The mayor also argues that the council “erroneously argues” that state statute prevents the mayor from vetoing negative actions, saying attorneys for the council refer to statutes governing a different form of municipal government.
“The significant difference between the mayor-council and Code Charter municipalities is the ability for the mayor in the mayor-council municipality to veto all official actions of the council,” his attorneys wrote.
Lumumba also attempts to refute claims he is taking on legislative authority by vetoing a no vote, saying that he is simply exercising “his executive authority that the city council is attempting to directly circumvent.”
In September, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal and granted a motion for an expedited decision in the matter. No further filings are expected, according to court records.
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