We are close to reaching the guidelines for mandatory water rationing. Please be water smart.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Norman is a special place,which has been rated first in the state and 40th in the country of best places to live! I'm proud of that fact, and I believe that our community's unique balance between that of a larger, progressive city and a quiet University town is the key to our exceptional quality of life.
Public service on City Council though is not simply a matter of solving bigger issues for the larger community. First and foremost, it's about representing the interests of individual residents, like you, and working to resolve the many smaller, but equally important problems affecting your families, homes and neighborhoods.
Norman is a wonderful city because of diverse people and interests and points of view. If we wish to protect and enhance the character and values that make Norman such a great place to live, it's important that we work cooperatively together as a community of neighbors, and that our municipal government works for all of us.
I promise to continue to represent your interests, and keep working to ensure that City Hall acts in the best interest of all of the citizens of Norman and not just a select few. In order to do that I have changed this website to be interactive. I want to hear your ideas as well as to keep you informed. I will periodically send out updates on important issues to help keep you informed. Please sign up on the update page.
By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — City meetings to watch this week include today’s 2 p.m. gathering of the Norman Election Commission, where two key issues — public finance of city campaigns and partisan campaigning in nonpartisan municipal elections — will be explored.
Discussion regarding establishing public finance for city council candidates will continue. Council member Tom Kovach asked the commission to research the possibility and prepare a report for the city council.
Kovach has said city council and mayoral races have become very expensive and he’d like to ensure that anyone who wants to run for office has a chance to do so. Most public financing programs have a base requirement that candidates must meet in order to qualify, usually a minimum of money the candidate must raise or signatures on a petition.
Also on the slate for the Election Commission is a report from the city’s legal department regarding partisan information being disseminated in city council elections. During the past two election campaigns, the Cleveland County GOP PAC has distributed information identifying the party affiliation of city council candidates. Most recently in the Ward 8 city election, the GOP PAC sent out glossy postcard mailers with endorsements by Republican candidates for the District 15 state senate seat. Photos of the four Republican candidates were included, and city candidate Chad Williams was endorsed as the only conservative candidate.
State law and the Norman City Charter prohibit a city council or mayoral candidate from declaring party affiliation.
The commission will also discuss a complaint filed by Norman resident Cindy Cason against the Cleveland County GOP PAC regarding the partisan mailer distributed in the Ward 8 run-off election.
Ward 5 City Council member Dave Spaulding also serves as the chair for the GOP PAC. He said in his opinion the mailers are educational. He and former chair Bobby Cleveland have said they have a right to freedom of speech in identifying the party affiliation of city candidates. Both also maintain that most people know which party the candidates are affiliated with anyway.
If the purpose of the nonpartisan ballot designation is to allow all Norman residents to vote on candidates regardless of party registration and without requiring primary and runoff elections, then the city may need to rethink its the implementation of its nonpartisan requirements.
City attorney Jeff Bryant had issued the initial opinion that the charter governs city candidates but cannot control what people and entities who are not candidates do. His office was investigating possible ways to address the situation and will report those findings on Monday.
Article II of the city charter deals with elections and section 11 specifically prohibits partisan designation of the candidates.
“No nominating notice nor acceptance thereof shall have upon it any party emblem, sign or designation, and there shall be nothing thereon to indicate the affiliation of the nominee or of any signer with any political party or any organization.”
“It’s public record,” Cleveland said. “I believe the voters have a right to know. We’re doing nothing but expressing our First Amendment rights.”
The party registration of candidates, as well as a record of the elections they voted in is a matter of public record available through the county election board.
If you are going to be traveling August 28th you can request an absentee ballot from the Cleveland County Election Board.
We are gathering a list of supporters for the Transportation Bond Election. If you are willing to have your name in the Transcript advertisement, please let me know ASAP
I was stopped by a constituent on my evening walk, and she suggested that the City put out a reminder about voluntary rationing. Thank you for the great idea.
The Norman Transcript
July 19, 2012
City encouraging water conservation
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Utilities Department is asking residents to please conserve water as much as possible including implementing voluntary even/odd watering.
Norman’s water department has been pumping more than 20 million gallons per day for more than 21 days so far this summer as compared to normal wintertime usage of about 10 mgd.
So far this summer, Norman has not had to purchase emergency water from Oklahoma City. However, with the continued increase in demand, and the strain on facilities, purchasing water from may be inevitable, according to city reports.
The rate for Oklahoma City emergency water has increased over 8 percent in the last two years making it $4.84 per 1,000 gallons, double the norman cost.
Norman’s regular commercial water rate is $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.
Water conserving steps to consider:
· Voluntary odd/even water rotation — if your street address ends in an odd number, only water on odd numbered calendar days. If your address ends in an even number, only water on even calendar days. This significantly reduces peak demand on the water system and encourages deep root growth for plants and lawn.
· Adjust sprinklers to make sure you are not watering the sidewalk, driveway or other areas that do not need watering.
· Do not water between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. — this is the hottest part of the day when up to 40 percent of the water can be lost to evaporation.
· Use mulch. A thick layer of mulch around your plants helps keep the ground insulated from the sun and retains moisture better.
· Some experts estimate that 50 percent of water is lost due to evaporation and run-off. Irrigation professionals can install, audit or upgrade your system to save up to 9,000 gallons each year. Technology also is available to ensure that sprinkler systems are on their best behavior and allows systems to water according to weather and shut off in the rain.
· Not interested in an irrigation system? Purchase an inexpensive hose timer to avoid over-watering. Soaker hoses are also a great option for avoiding evaporation due to wind.
· Wash only full loads of dishes or clothes.
· Refrain from washing down any sidewalk, walkway, driveway, parking lot or any other hard-surfaced area.
· If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
· Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
· Nearly 22 percent of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
Water conservation — using water efficiently and avoiding waste — is fundamental to ensuring water availability in the future. In order to protect our water supply, everyone can practice conservation. In our businesses, schools, and homes, using water more efficiently will lessen the effects of limited water supply.
July 19, 2012
Wider possibilities for Lindsey
By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series of stories examining the projects of the transporation bond package set for vote Aug. 28.
For years, local restaurateur Joe Sparks opposed proposals to widen Lindsey Street. Now, he’s reversed that stance and is supporting the upcoming transportation bond package going before Norman voters on Aug. 28.
“In the past, I worked against widening Lindsey Street,” he said. “This is the first time the widening has been combined with drainage issues at Lindsey and McGee and this is the first time they’ve agreed to bury the utilities.”
Sparks and wife Rebecca Sparks own Legends Restaurant on Lindsey Street west of Berry Road. He said the time is right for the Lindsey project.
“We’ll get half of it paid for with the federal match,” he said. “Another plus is the Lindsey Street bridge is going to be torn down to make it six lanes. We might as well get these other problems solved at the same time.”
Norman would coordinate the reconstruction and widening of Lindsey Street between Berry and 24th Ave. Southwest with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s work on the Lindsey bridge at Interstate 35. That project is slated for 2016.
“Of course, the Lindsey Street project is only one of eight involved with this project,” Sparks said.
The Lindsey widening could take as long as two years and that will affect his business, but Sparks said the improvements will be worth the sacrifice.
“We’ll just have to make some adjustments in the way we operate while that’s going on,” he said. “Businesses and their customers will still have access continuously.”
Sparks said access at the Lindsey and I-35 interchange will also remain continuous.
“The end result will be a much better Lindsey Street. We’ll have continuous sidewalks and continuous curbs,” he said. “The utilities will be buried so there will be opportunities for better landscaping.
“The University of Oklahma will have a better opportunity at having a really attractive gateway. The 21st Century calls for landscaping.”
The city has been gathering data from Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, resident surveys and other entities to prioritize projects as this bond proposal was prepared.
That information reveals some startling statistics:
· Lindsey Street is the No. 1 rated sotrm water problem in Norman.
· It is also the No. 1 traffic congestion corridor in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
· The crash rate on Lindsey is nearly three times the national average for similar roadways.
Flooding along McGee Street affects access to homes, churches and at least one school. Bethel Baptist Church and St. Stephens United Methodist Church struggle with flooding and access every time it rains as does Whittier Middle School. Flooding is so bad in that area, it is commonly referred to as “Lake McGee.”
Access for people with disabilities is also an issue along Lindsey Street because the sidewalks are not continous and many of those that exist lack curb cuts. Landscaping is spotty and overhead powerlines interfer with trees and other landscaping features.
The proposed bond project would solve those problems in addition to easing traffic congestion through the widening.
“West Lindsey Street is probably the main gateway to the university and it’s the first thing many people see — the first impression of Norman,” Sparks said.
That includes prospective students, visitors to Norman, industrial prospects and investors and people who might buy a home here, he said.
“There’s a serious economic component to the improved appearance of Lindsey Street,” Sparks said.
As a local business owner and Norman resident, he believes it’s a project that’s time has come and the investment is worth the outcome.
The 2012 Bond Program, if approved, will provide the city’s matching dollars for eight transportation projects. The city is making use of federal matching funds administered by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. All of the proposed bond projects are eligible for federal tranprojects.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com
On August 07, 2012, Norman will participate in a nationwide event, which is intended to bring people out of their homes and become active within their neighborhoods. Norman will be joining people around the world to celebrate the “29th Annual National Night Out”. National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in partnership with Target. Members of the Norman Police Department are looking forward to meeting with our citizens on National Night Out.
This event is designed to 1) Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; 2) Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; 3) Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; 4) Send a message to criminals, letting them know neighborhoods care and will not be victimized.
On August 07, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., we would like to encourage the citizens of Norman to lock their doors, turn on their outside lights and spend the evening getting to know their neighbors. The Norman Police Department would like to know if your neighborhood is planning an event for National Night Out. Please let us know the details of your event through Facebook (City of Norman, OK Police Department), by e-mail at email@example.com or calling Sgt. Jennifer Newell at 405-366-5267.
If you are interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group in your area, please contact Sgt. Jennifer Newell. You do not have to be a part of a neighborhood watch group to participate in National Night Out. You just have to care about your neighborhood.
To assist the Norman Police Department with crime prevention, you can come out of your homes, get to know your neighbors and your local officers. National Night Out is a wonderful opportunity to do this.
Sgt. Jennifer Newell
Norman Police Department
Community Services Section
Councilmember Ezzell resigned his position as Councilmember for Ward 3 effective July 31, 2012. The remainder of this unexpired term for this Council seat extends to July 2, 2013. As directed by City Charter, any vacancy occurring on the City Council shall be filled by a majority vote of the remaining members of City Council, for a period extending until the next regular municipal election.
Council has expressed interest in receiving applications for appointment to fill the unexpired term. Interested applicants must be registered to vote in the City of Norman for six months and reside in Ward 3. Applicants must submit an application, letter of intent, and/or resume to the City Clerk’s Office at 201 West Gray Street by Monday, July 23, 2012. Applications can be obtained at the City Clerk’s Office or, if you prefer, links to the application and a Ward 3 boundary map are included on the front page of the City’s website at www.cityofnorman.com. City Council anticipates an appointment in August. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s Office at 366-5386 or you may email the City Clerk at Brenda.Hall@NormanOK.gov.
I know gotcha journalism is fun, for some. So is editorializing in a news story, but sometimes people want the facts as well, all of them. For that reason I will explain what was made to seem like a contradiction in my statement and my actions. I did indeed say I would not bend the law to accommodate my personal feelings in the matter of the appeal before the Norman City Council. That was after the City Attorney said in an unequivocal fashion that Council could not grant exemptions. Well if we could not legally do so then, it would have been improper for me to vote to do so, despite the merits of the case. After I made my quoted statement, the City Attorney later modified his position and said we could interpret the code to read it as giving latitude for an exemption.
Webster defines appeal as: an application (as to a recognized authority) for corroboration, vindication, or decision. I think: if there is no choice than, you cannot decide. In other words we must be able to say yes or no. The very fact that there is an appeal process indicated the intent to be able to address situations that cannot possibly be contemplated or anticipated when writing an ordinance.
Making a decision on the narrow and specific facts on individual circumstances is not only appropriate but the very function of having Council oversight. That is what keeps people from falling through the cracks. While staff and the Planning Commission were absolutely right to strictly apply the ordinance, Council, in an appeal, can and should exercise its discretionary powers.
No one intended to charge people for a road widening that will not happen just because we can. Nor should we make a small plot of land unusable, if its use doesn’t prose a treat to the greater community. It is more than an issue of taking care of a small business, or did some buyer do their due diligence. It is a matter of looking at the situation as a whole and considering the human side of the equation.
The meeting demonstrated two important principles. They say you cannot fight city hall, but in fact you not only can but sometimes you can win. Second, all the back and forth and vacillation, proved that those on council do not always have their minds made up before a meeting.
Councilmenmber Ezzell has resigned as of 7-31. I hope anyone interested in filling the vacancy until the next election, submit a letter to Council ASAP.