Two Starkville aldermen announced a special-call meeting for 1 p.m. Friday to discuss Mayor Lynn Spruill’s veto of the Bird scooter ban.
Spruill issued a veto Tuesday of the board’s June 15 ban on Bird scooters within city limits, but Ward 3 Alderman David Little and Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty, who support the ban, requested the special-call meeting in hopes of overturning it. If the veto isn’t addressed before June 30, the matter would fall to the new board that will have two new members, Jeffrey Rupp for Ward 3 and Mike Brooks for Ward 4.
Little, an outgoing alderman who did not seek re-election, said safety issues are the driving force behind the meeting. The initial reasoning behind the board banning the scooters in the city derived from multiple complaints from citizens about the scooters, such as riders taking them down highways and sidewalks and users operating them under the influence.
“I know the mayor has been working with them to improve on that,” Little said. “I don’t know how you’re going to stop folks from riding on sidewalks. That’s just a user issue.”
In order to overturn the veto, five of the seven aldermen must vote in favor of maintaining the ban. While the original vote was 4-3, Little said he thinks one more person will flip their vote and likely vote his way.
“I believe we have (the votes),” Little said. “Otherwise, we’d be wasting everyone’s time.”
Along with Little and Beatty, Ward 1’s Ben Carver and Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins, of Ward 6, supported the ban June 15.
Sandra Sistrunk of Ward 2, Jason Walker of Ward 4 and Henry Vaughn of Ward 7 opposed.
Sistrunk and Walker had not changed their positions when reached by The Dispatch on Wednesday. Vaughn did not return calls seeking comment.
Beatty said Spruill has the discretion to veto any board decision, but he still thinks Bird scooters should not be allowed in Starkville. He said he and Little are not trying to overturn the veto “just for the sake of it,” but because they believe in upholding safety within Starkville.
“As public officials, it’s incumbent on us to, if we see something that’s dangerous, we need to do something about it,” Beatty said. “It’s not a matter of if there is a serious tragedy with them. It’s a matter of when.”
Sistrunk said while improvements “absolutely” need to be made, there have been no data-driven arguments that have changed her mind. Walker, who is out of town and will not be present on Friday, said his views have not changed on the matter.
“I am in favor of keeping the scooters in town,” Walker said. “I do think there needs to be additional regulation, but my view has not changed.”
Little said he can only recall two other times while he has been an alderman that the mayor has vetoed a board decision. The first came shortly after he first joined the board in July 2013, when he and four other aldermen overrode then-mayor Parker Wiseman’s veto of the board decision to fire Spruill — then serving as chief administrative officer.
As his final act, Little said he hopes he will be successful in overturning this veto.
“I thought I was pretty much done,” Little said. “… I knew the mayor had the prerogative to veto the matter, but this is kind of where we’re at, so we’ll see where it takes us.”