Not difficult to wear a mask

Editor, The Transcript:

I'm wondering how many of those who are pushing to remove council members and mayor have read the recent upswing of the coronavirus numbers.

Could it be that this state and many here in Norman don't believe in wearing masks? Case in point -- our governor.

Now masks are primarily used to protect others, as well as possibly the wearer of the mask. However, those who object based on their "constitutional rights" don't seem to care about protecting others, and the Constitution doesn't give us a right to hurt other people.

I question how difficult is it to wear a mask for the brief time you may enter a store or restaurant? I choose to wear one and, yes, it fogs up my glasses, but what a small inconvenience to help in an epidemic.

And for the other issue, the reaction to the funding of the police department, the actual term "defunding" may not be a good choice of words. I have lived in Norman for close to 50 years and have worked in the mental health field.

I often found the Norman Police Department to be more enlightened overall and helpful than some other police departments in other cities in Oklahoma and what I've read about in other states. The NPD were generally quite responsive to issues regarding mental health.

However, there is always "the bad apple" in the group, as in any situation. Also, I happen to be white and I have not experienced what many people of color have experienced, and that is a whole different issue.

I am extremely proud to have a city council and mayor who are willing to listen to "all sides" and to base decisions on facts and science -- not just on opinions and "feelings." The money that was decided not to go to the NPD but rather to mental health and social services makes sense in that so much of what the police are involved in is related to those issues, since mental health was defunded about 30 years ago.

It should also be noted that the NPD will be getting more money in their budget for the coming year than last year. And, yes, having a meeting that goes to 4 a.m. may contribute to less-than-perfect decisions.

Thank you, Mayor Clark, for your efforts to protect Norman citizens and thank you, council member Kate Bierman and others, for your efforts to hang in there in spite of negative and hateful responses.

Sincerely,

DIANE HARDERSEN

Norman

It's called direct democracy

Editor, The Transcript:

Rebuttal to Judith Phillips' letter to the editor Aug. 7:

I take exception to many of Ms. Phillips' statements concerning Unite Norman.

• "We have a new group in town, 'Unite Norman,' who want to do everything but unite us. Instead, they are dividing by seeking to recall our duly elected mayor and city council members."

There is nothing nefarious here; it's called direct democracy. Direct democracy can entail passing executive decisions, making laws or the recall of elected officials. It offers the people a direct and unmistakable voice that makes elected officials responsive to the general wishes of the public.

• "They were elected because they do represent the views of the majority of voters."

Not quite accurate. In the last mayoral election and city council elections, only about 18% of registered voters cast a ballot.

• "We are proud of Mayor Clark and our city council for their toughness and decency in the face of unprecedented harassment and abuse."

Let's talk about decency and harassment. During a city council meeting in May of last year: While a pro-life resident spoke at the podium against abortion, two city council members turned their backs to him. That was disrespectful and immature.

Harassment and abuse can cut both ways, as exemplified by the mayor and members of the city council.

• "The Norman City Council has not 'defunded the police.' They have, in fact, only cut the size of their increase."

This is a matter of semantics. Yes, $865,000 of the police department's annual budget was reallocated. Call it what you will, but that is $865,000 that will not go to the department. In the overall scheme of things, that is not a crippling amount of money, but the way in which it was handled became the greater problem. The perception is that despite ongoing budget discussions, the mayor and council caved to the demands of a small radical group in the dead of night. The manner in which it was enacted has eroded public trust.

• "Nor is this effort bipartisan, and centrist. It is Republican and right wing."

That is a very partisan statement on its face. I presume that Ms. Phillips would rather Republicans remain silent and "go along to get along." That is not how a democracy works. In a democracy all groups, far-left, far-right, Republican, Democrat, independent and all others have the right to express grievances and petition for change. There is no reason to demonize a group that does not fit your agenda.

• "The second factor that discredits this recall effort is that it appears that all members do not come from the City of Norman but are 'outside agitators.'"

All members of Unite Norman are not residents of Norman but outside agitators? Please. I wonder how many of the people who packed city hall in February or marched in our streets demanding the defunding of the police department were residents of Norman. That would be the correct definition of "outside agitators."

LYNN LEUCK

Norman

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