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Confusion surrounds whether Lumumba was reappointed to 1% commission

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba(WLBT)
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 11:37 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Confusion surrounds whether Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba was reappointed to a commission that oversees how the city spends a special one-percent sales tax.

Tuesday, the Jackson City Council voted 3-2-2 to reappoint the mayor to the one-percent infrastructure oversight commission, a 10-member body that is responsible for ensuring revenues from the special tax are spent in line with a master plan.

Some say the mayor is no longer on the board because he did not receive a majority of the vote.

Others say abstentions don’t count and that the mayor won the majority of votes from voting members.

The mayor himself, meanwhile, says the measure passed, but even if it hadn’t, he’d still have a seat on the commission.

“The legislation says the mayor has an appointment and serves as chairperson,” he said.

Voting in favor of the measure were Council President Virgi Lindsay and Council members Angelique Lee and Brian Grizzell.

Voting against the reappointment were Councilmen Ashby Foote and Aaron Banks.

Councilmen Kenneth Stokes and Vernon Hartley abstained.

City Attorney Catoria Martin told WLBT the mayor was reappointed.

Lindsay also agreed that the mayor had been reappointed, saying that Lumumba received a majority of votes cast.

However, one council member who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the mayor did not get a majority and that abstentions count against him.

“The vote for confirmation requires a majority vote and abstentions kept him from getting a majority,” the member said.

He pointed to a vote last month where a contract requiring a majority vote was turned down because of an abstention.

In February, the council voted 3-3-1 to award a six-year, $50 million contract waste-hauling contract to Richard’s Disposal.

At the time, Martin told the council that based on an opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the vote failed and that the abstention could not count for or against the contract.

Robert’s Rules of Order state that “where the rules require either a ‘majority vote’ or a ‘two-thirds vote,’ abstentions have absolutely no effect on the outcome... since what is required is either a majority or a two-thirds of the vote cast.”

Appointment to the one-percent commission required simple a majority vote to pass.

Meanwhile, the mayor is stepping down as a member of the Capitol Complex Improvement District advisory board.

The CCID was established by lawmakers in 2017 to provide additional funding, in part, to address road, water, and sewer needs around state-owned properties.

A panel made up of local and state appointees advises the state on how to spend CCID revenues.

“I’m going to add somebody else to it,” he said.

Questions had arisen whether the mayor could serve on the CCID board and the one-percent board at the same time.

State statute, as well as the bylaws for the CCID board state that “members appointed to the committee shall not also serve as members of the commission established by the city of Jackson pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 27-65-241.”

Bylaws were adopted by the advisory committee on July 19, 2018.

The council did approve two other appointments to the one-percent commission: Jackson Chief Financial Officer Fidelis Malembeka and Chief Administrative Officer Louis Wright.

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