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.

Sincerely, Tom

Latest News:

What Really Happened

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.

Business and Community Affairs to consider board appointments

NORMAN — Business and Community Affairs to consider board appointments

The Norman City Council will say goodbye this week to council members Carol Dillingham, Ward 4, and Dan Quinn, Ward 8, while welcoming newcomers Greg Jungman and Chad Williams. The annual swearing in ceremonial meeting starts 6 p.m. Tuesday, half an hour earlier than usual city council meetings.

As the city offers appreciation for the council members’ years of dedicated service, it also will administer oaths of office to re-elected members Tom Kovach, Ward 2, and James Griffith, Ward 6, and to new members Jungman, Ward 4, and Williams, Ward 8.

The council also will elect a mayor pro tem and representatives to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments Board of Directors, a council member to serve on the board of trustees for the city’s Norman Retirement System, and a council member to serve as a representative and ex-officio member of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.

Prior to the special council meeting, Norman’s city volunteers will be welcomed with an appreciation reception at 5 p.m. at city hall.

Economic Development Advisory Board: Of particular interest this week will be the Business and Community Affairs Committee meeting 9 a.m. Thursday. According to the agenda, discussion will revolve around the creation of a Norman Economic Development Advisory Board.

After lengthy debates regarding the creation of a Norman Economic Development Authority, it was decided that city council members would serve as trustees. The city council approved the NEDA on June 12, with plans to create an advisory committee of financial professionals.

“This is the starting point. We all agreed that an advisory board is appropriate and makes a lot of sense,” Council member Hal Ezzell said. “Our starting point is what was pulled out from the last agreement (during NEDA discussions), and we’ll go from there. That discussion is going to start on Thursday.”

Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Walker will make a presentation to the Business and Community Affairs Committee, including a draft ordinance to create the Norman Economic Development Advisory Board. Positions would be appointed.

A five-member board is proposed, with one member to be nominated by the executive committee of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, one nominated by the Board of Directors of the Norman Economic Development Coalition and three nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.

Council member Tom Kovach said he would like to see a seven-member advisory board. Kovach believes all of the seats should come from city council appointments.

“The chamber and NEDC should not get to pick who is on that board,” Kovach said. “What we need is people with the right credentials.”

How the advisory board will function in conjunction with NEDA will be adjusted based on the council’s input.

“This economic advisory board’s primary function is to give us a good technical evaluation of the financial feasibility of a proposed project. It’s (the) council’s job to decide if it’s the right kind of project for Norman,” Kovach said. “NEDA should determine first if a project is desirable before a project goes to the committee for evaluation.”

In the draft proposal, all five members of the advisory board would be required to have experience in law, finance, accounting or banking.

“I have serious questions about the proposed makeup of the board under this proposal,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “It’s not sufficiently broad enough to protect the public interest.”

Rosenthal said she thinks the advisory board should include more members. Also, she has concerns about how it would function because of the increased ability of economic committees to hold closed-door executive sessions.

Under the proposal, the advisory board would make recommendations to the city council regarding:

· Proposed economic development policies and programs

· Requests for city-funded incentives for private businesses as proposed by the Norman Economic Development Coalition

· Development of strategies and plans for promoting economic development in Norman.

The committee would also:

· Investigate and report on economic development issues as assigned by the council

· Assist in identifying assets, resources and incentives appropriate for furthering economic development in the city.

Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com

Remember to Vote

Today there are several Federal, State County and one Local elections. Please take the time to vote and ask your friends to take the time to vote,as well. Your call can make a difference in a race and the way your government is run. Just think of all those elections where one vote made the difference.

ACOG seeks Public Comments on Transportation Plan

Central Oklahoma Transportation Planning Program to Undergo Review

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have scheduled a public listening session as part of an evaluation of the region’s transportation planning activities over the past four years. The session will take place on Monday, June 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Metro Technology Center, Room F, 1900 Springlake Drive, in Oklahoma City.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), which serves as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), coordinates transportation planning efforts in the greater Oklahoma City region, which encompasses all of Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties and portions of Canadian, Grady, Logan and McClain Counties.

The listening session is part of a certification review that takes place every four years to ensure that the MPO complies with federal standards and policies. The public is encouraged to attend. Those attending who wish to utilize public transportation should consider METRO Transit’s Route 22. Citizens should notify ACOG at 405-234-2264 (TDD/TTY Call 7-1-1 Statewide), if accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are needed.

As the MPO for Central Oklahoma, ACOG is responsible for long and short-range transportation planning from a multi-modal approach, incorporating street and highway improvements, transit options, goods movement, bicycle and pedestrian travel and new technologies to enhance transportation safety and security.

FHWA is also accepting written comments. Comments may be sent to Isaac Akem, FHWA, 5801 N. Robinson, Suite 300, Oklahoma City, OK 73118 through August 24, 2012.

Central Oklahoma Transportation Planning Program to Undergo Review

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have scheduled a public listening session as part of an evaluation of the region’s transportation planning activities over the past four years. The session will take place on Monday, June 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Metro Technology Center, Room F, 1900 Springlake Drive, in Oklahoma City.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), which serves as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), coordinates transportation planning efforts in the greater Oklahoma City region, which encompasses all of Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties and portions of Canadian, Grady, Logan and McClain Counties.

The listening session is part of a certification review that takes place every four years to ensure that the MPO complies with federal standards and policies. The public is encouraged to attend. Those attending who wish to utilize public transportation should consider METRO Transit’s Route 22. Citizens should notify ACOG at 405-234-2264 (TDD/TTY Call 7-1-1 Statewide), if accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are needed.

As the MPO for Central Oklahoma, ACOG is responsible for long and short-range transportation planning from a multi-modal approach, incorporating street and highway improvements, transit options, goods movement, bicycle and pedestrian travel and new technologies to enhance transportation safety and security.

FHWA is also accepting written comments. Comments may be sent to Isaac Akem, FHWA, 5801 N. Robinson, Suite 300, Oklahoma City, OK 73118 through August 24, 2012.