Councilman Michael Julian Bond, a co-sponsor of the Hollowell legislation, said no contract exists between the city and the state, so the gratuities law does not apply.
Bond also said the mayor lacks the authority to unilaterally interpret the council’s legislation, and that the mayor is abusing her power by directing her staff not to follow the ordinance.
“That was some of the worst lawyering I’ve ever seen during my time at City Hall,” Bond said of the order.
The battle over the ordinance appears to have evolved into a larger power struggle between the legislative and executive branches of city government.
“It’s become a tit for tat,” said Tobias Trapp, a resident of Grove Park, one of the neighborhoods along Hollowell. “It seems like it’s an ego thing at this point.”
Councilwoman Carla Smith said she voted for the original ordinance, but against overriding the mayor’s veto because it might set the stage for a conflict from which neither side could easily retreat.
“This thing has been messy since the beginning,” said Smith, a 20-year veteran of the council. “We have never been in a situation like this as far as I can remember.”
Some council members mentioned the possibility of a court battle, but could only guess as to how that might play out because of the seemingly unprecedented circumstances. The law department reports to both branches of city government.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Councilman Howard Shook, who voted for overriding the mayor’s veto. “The price of poker has gone up. It’s up to the council to decide to raise or fold.”