Two Starkville aldermen announced a special call meeting at 1 p.m. Friday to discuss Mayor Lynn Spruill’s veto on the Bird scooter ban.
Spruill vetoed the board’s ban on Bird scooters within city limits on Tuesday, but Ward 3 Alderman David Little and Ward 5 Hamp Beatty alderman, who support the ban, requested the special-call meeting in hopes of canceling it. If the veto is not addressed by June 30, the matter will revert to the new board of directors which will have two new members, Jeffrey Rupp for Ward 3 and Mike Brooks for Ward 4.
Little, an outgoing city councilor who did not seek re-election, said security concerns were driving the meeting. The initial reasoning behind the board banning scooters in the city stems from several complaints from citizens about scooters, such as drivers taking them from freeways and sidewalks and users using them under the influence.
“I know the mayor worked with them to improve this,” Little said. “I don’t know how you’re going to stop people from driving on sidewalks. It’s just a user problem.
In order to overturn the veto, five of the seven aldermen must vote in favor of maintaining the ban. While the initial vote was 4-3, Little said he believed someone else would reverse their vote and likely vote their way.
“I believe we have (the votes),” Little said. “Otherwise, we would be wasting everyone’s time. “
Along with Little and Beatty, Ward 1’s Ben Carver and Ward 6 Deputy Mayor Roy A. Perkins supported the ban on June 15.
Sandra Sistrunk from Ward 2, Jason Walker from Ward 4 and Henry Vaughn from Ward 7 objected.
Sistrunk and Walker had not changed positions when contacted by The Dispatch on Wednesday. Vaughn did not return calls for comment.
Beatty said Spruill has the discretion to veto any board decision, but he still believes Bird scooters should not be allowed in Starkville. He said he and Little were not trying to overturn the veto “just for fun” but because they believe in keeping Starkville safe.
“As public servants, it behooves us to, if we see something dangerous, we have to do something,” Beatty said. “It’s not about whether there is a serious tragedy with them. It’s a question of when.
Sistrunk said that while improvements “absolutely” need to be made, there is no evidence-based argument to change my mind. Walker, who is out of town and will not be attending on Friday, said his views had not changed on the matter.
“I’m in favor of keeping scooters in town,” Walker said. “I think there must be additional regulation, but my point of view has not changed.”
Little said he can only remember two other times while serving as a city councilor that the mayor vetoed a board decision. The first came shortly after he came to the board in July 2013, when he and four other city councilors overturned then-mayor Parker Wiseman’s veto over the board’s decision to fire Spruill – then administrative director.
As a final act, Little said he hopes to succeed in overturning that veto.
“I thought I was pretty much done,” Little said. “… I knew the mayor had the prerogative to veto the case, but that’s kind of where we’re at, so we’ll see where it takes us.” “