City of Norman

Norman now has a new city attorney, but like the current city manager, Kathryn Walker's title begins with the word "interim." 

Interim City Manager Mary Rupp’s appointment of Walker as interim city attorney was confirmed by the city council Tuesday. Walker replaces outgoing city attorney Jeff Bryant who reached a separation agreement with the city in December. 

Walker has represented the City of Norman as the first assistant city attorney since 2012. She began her career at the city as an assistant city attorney in 2005. 

“The city’s legal staff is one of the most talented groups of municipal lawyers in the state,” Walker said in a statement released Wednesday. “I am honored to be selected to serve them during this time of transition.”

After her graduation from the University of Oklahoma Law School in 2004, Walker worked for the Oklahoma attorney general and in private practice. In 2011, she was recognized by the Norman Chamber of Commerce as one of Norman’s Next Under 40 and currently serves as president of the Oklahoma Association of Municipal Attorneys.

Bryant's last day as acting city attorney was Dec. 31. According to his separation agreement with the city, he will be available to assist the city with the transition and serve as a consultant on special assignments at the request of the city manager.

On Tuesday, the city council tabled discussion of potential changes to the city charter. Among the proposed changes is a move to place the city attorney and the newly created position of city auditor under direct supervision of the city council (currently the city manager is the only direct employee of the council). The council is in the exploratory phase and was slated to convene the charter review committee to give its feedback but opted to delay the item until the Feb. 26 city council meeting to consider alternate appointees.

The current list of items the council is considering passing on to the committee includes: 

· Consider adding language to the Charter related to the appointment and removal of a City Auditor that would be a full-time employee of the City of Norman and appointed and subject to removal by the City Council.

· Review of Article VII, Section 2 to consider whether the City Attorney should be appointed and subject to removal by the City Council.

· Consider adding language to the Charter that would establish consequences should the provisions of Section 2-103 of the City’s Code be violated.

· Review of Article II, Section 1 to consider increasing the monthly stipend provided for the Mayor and Councilmembers.

· Consider adding language to Article II, Section 1 of the Charter adding reimbursement for cell phone expenses as additional compensation received by City Councilmembers.

· Review of Article II, Sections 2, 5, 6 and 14 to consider whether the term of office for Councilmembers should be changed from two to three years, and whether the term of office for Mayor be changed from three to four years.

· Review of Article II, Section 2 to consider whether the term of office for Councilmembers and Mayor should expire on the last Tuesday of the month in which a runoff election is held or scheduled to be held.

· Consider adding language to Article II, Section 10 of the Charter that would require a sitting Councilmember to resign their position at the time he or she files for another City, State or Federal elected office.

· Consider adding language to Article II, Section 10 of the Charter that would require a candidate for City Council to reside in the Ward in which he or she seeks election for a minimum of six months prior to filing for said office.

· Consider removing Article XVI, Section 2 of the Charter requiring a vote of the electorate prior to increasing City utility rates and adding language in its place to establish an independent elected utilities board to set utility rates.

· Consider adding language to the Charter to establish a Resident or Community Bill of Rights.

· Consider amending Article VI, Section 1 of the Charter to increase the number of members of the Board of Norman Regional Hospital Authority from nine to eleven members.

The resolution that was tabled Tuesday night also would appoint nine members to the Charter Review Commission, eight of these being returning members.

Mack Burke

mburke@normantranscript.com

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Mack Burke is an investigative reporter and award-winning feature writer and columnist for The Norman Transcript. An OU alumnus, he has lived in Norman since 2003.