The Norman Transcript


June 14, 2012

Divisive politics create high emotions

NORMAN — Things turned ugly at Norman City Council this week, leaving residents and city officials at odds.

Lengthy discussion of funding for the city sewer plant upgrade and over budget amendments occupied a sizable chunk of the evening.

Then, the council reached the final and one of the most debated items on the city’s agenda — the creation of an economic development authority. It was approaching 11 p.m., and the public had voiced concerns about the authority at other meetings, including protracted discussion at a public hearing on the issue two weeks earlier.

That input resulted in significant changes to the trust document and to the composition of the authority. The council will serve as trustees, and an advisory commission of professional people will also be established.

When the item to establish the authority was introduced, Council member Hal Ezzell immediately called the question, shutting down all public comment.

Council member Roger Gallagher objected, but Council member Tom Kovach seconded the motion, and it went to an immediate vote.  

“I moved into the meeting considering the history of this issue,” Ezzell said. “We had been meeting since 2011 on this issue. This was all in the public domain for comment for well over a month. We were past the point of legitimate debate. At some point, you have to cut off the discussion, vote and move on.”

The measure passed six votes to three, with Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and council members Gallagher and Dave Spaulding voting against it.

“By censoring discussion of the citizens and even the council itself, the city council majority failed our citizens in terms of openness, transparency and responsible representation,” Rosenthal said. “Our job is to listen to our citizens, try to respond to their questions and concerns, and ultimately to explain our positions as best we can. My ‘no’ vote is a protest against a process which confirms some of the worst fears of citizens who wonder if their voice matters.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Bad year won’t dampen peachy tradition

    PORTER — A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.” Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Union Market opens this fall on campus

    Shelves are being stocked as employees buzz around like busy bees and activities are in the last stages of prep as the University of Oklahoma anticipates the opening of its new eatery Union Market, located in the Oklahoma Memorial Union in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • OU football recruit under investigation in assault case

    An attorney representing Joe Mixon confirmed Friday evening that the highly-recruited Oklahoma running back is being investigated by Norman Police in connection with an incident in which a woman suffered multiple facial fractures early ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Campus Cornerassault

    Norman Police responded to an alleged aggravated assault at the Campus Corner Pickelmans Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning....

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014