The main focus of Monday’s monthly City Council Meeting was that of the Letter of Veto that Mayor Terry Gardner made in response to the Council’s decision last month to remove the T.C. Bloxom Memorial Sign at Minden’s REC Center.
When the item was brought up on the agenda, Councilman Terika Williams-Walker of Dist. B brought forward the motion to overturn the Letter of Veto with a second coming from Councilman Vincen Bradford of Dist. C.
Before the item was brought to a vote, a discussion surrounding the veto ensued. Bradford brought forward a section from the Lawrason Act and he said stated, “‘the Mayor may not veto a motion adopted by the board.’ So you didn’t have the power to veto that.”
Mayor Gardner responded that they did have the power to do that.
After some discussion, it was revealed that the Council members may not have had the most updated version of the Lawrason Act, with their version being from August of 2016, rather than the 2019 revised version, of which the mayor stated that he didn’t see the section that Councilman Bradford was addressing.
In regards to the legal texts the Council and Mayor were referring to, here are the relevant sections about the Mayor’s Veto power found in the Lawrason Act last revised Oct. 2019.
“If the mayor disapproves the ordinance, he or she shall, within 10 days after its receipt, return to the clerk the ordinance (along with a written statement of reasons for the veto) for transmittal to each board member;
An ordinance vetoed by the mayor must be considered again by the board at it’s next regular meeting after the veto. The board may vote on the ordinance at that meeting or at a continuance of that meeting;
If a board consists of more than three members, an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the board’s members is required to override a mayor’s veto,” the Lawrason Act states.
Referring to his outdated version of the document, Councilman Bradford asked, “This was put on our desk, don’t you all have that?” Councilman Walker Responded, “Yeah, I have the same thing. When everyone came to the training, this is what she passed out.”
“Well, the revised statue that I have is 2019 so I guess they revised it,” responded Mayor Gardner.
After this, some debate over semantics ensued, and the delineation between an ordinance, resolution, and act came into play, with some Councilmen saying the Mayor can veto an ordinance or resolution, but not an act.
At this point, City Attorney Charles Minifield interjected and provided his opinion on the matter “ the Mayor of a municipality can not veto a resolution passed by the Council. And what he did, was he vetoed a resolution, not an ordinance. All of those are an act in some form or another but are not an act as far as veto purposes are concerned,” said Minifield.
“If you really want my opinion, aside from this, what you need to do, I’m talking to the Council and the rest of the people sitting at this table, a mistake was made. I think we can do this without having WWIII, and that’s what I think all y’all need to do. Just get together, and come up with something that both sides can agree with and I think it can be done.”
After hearing Minifield’s opinion, Councilman Keith Beard of Dist. D still thought that what was being vetoed would be considered an act. “He said everything we did is an act, he did say that. We as a council are acting on something, on some topic. And so according to our charter, it says veto any act.”
After some more discussion, it was taken to a vote with three in favor, those being Councilmen Herbert Taylor, Terika Williams Walker, and Vincen Bradford, two against, those being Councilmen Keith Beard and Pam Bloxom. After the Mayor announced that the motion failed, there was some audible confusion as to why it failed since it got three votes.
The reason is, in order to overturn a veto, you need a two-thirds vote. In this instance, it would mean that a total of four Council members would have to vote in favor in order to overturn the veto.
Later during the meeting, Councilman Bradford requested to be put on the record objecting to the vote because he believes that the Lawrason Act rule on the two-thirds vote to overturn a veto did not apply in this matter.
As it currently stands, the motion to overturn the veto did fail, so as of now, the mayor’s veto is upheld.
The monthly Minden City Council Meeting takes place at Minden City Hall starting at 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of every month.