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“No one has established that Mr. Mamo is the cause of price increases,” Mr. Orange said.

Mr. Mendelson said the issue should not be considered a referendum on Mr. Mamo, but the structure of the market, noting his interactions with Mr. Mamo have been “polite,” “pleasant” and “proper.”

Even Jesse Jackson has entered the fray, issuing a letter to council members arguing the legislation would adversely affect a minority-driven success story. Mr. Mamo, too, said the legislation would harm minority dealers with whom he has lease-contracts, because the law would force him to franchise out the stations.

Several of the contracted operators testified against the bill, noting they cannot afford the single-franchise pricetag.

“This is the most un-American thing I have ever seen,” said Dawit Habte Selasie, operator of a Shell station on New Hampshire Avenue in Northeast.

Ms. Cheh had objected to the racial framing of the issue and established at the hearing that Mr. Mamo had asked for Mr. Jackson’s letter. But in a heated exchange that followed, Mr. Mamo’s lobbyist, John Ray, maintained that Mr. Jackson wrote the letter with his own thoughts and words.

Lynn Cook, manager of Parker’s Exxon in the Palisades area of Ward 3, said he can only buy from one jobber, making it difficult for him to compete with the station up the street.

“I was paying more than he was selling it to the public for,” Mr. Cook said.

“I don’t suppose you could go up their with containers?” Ms. Cheh quipped.

Mr. Mendelson said price was not the only issue. He expressed concern about a favoritism toward the convenience store-gas station models — which tend to sell more gas — than full service, gas-and-repair shop models like Mr. Cook’s.

Mr. Cook said the lack of separation between jobbers and retail operations also means he is at greater risk of being replaced as a manager.