Tag Archives: Norman

City of Norman’s Fifth Density Dialog Charade

Kaye Beach

August 14, 2012

I am completely frustrated with the City of Norman’s “community dialog” meetings on density development.  Last night was the fifth meeting.

(You can find out more about the meetings and see some of the materials from the meetings here)

Previous posts on the subject are here and here

We were told in the beginning that the meetings were for the purpose of discovering whether or not Norman residents even wanted high density development.  That question could have been answered in much less that the six scheduled meetings being held but then the planners would not have had the opportunity to manipulate the attendees into agreeing to the sort of development that they have in mind.

I am not opposed to the building of high density housing units.  If there is a market for it and it doesn’t harm the rights of property owners nearby, then why not?  But there is much more going on here than that.

Last night we really got down to the nitty gritty after we were instructed by City Planner Susan Atkinson on exactly what constituted “good design”  Good design, we were told, is three stories, built right up to the sidewalk, retail on the bottom, residential on top, meager parking, hidden in the back.  Good design means wide sidewalks and narrow streets.  Why?

I’ll tell you why.  Because public transportation REQUIRES high density development,( located right  next to the tracks) that discourages the use of automobiles.    The planners aim to take away your choices so that their goals are met.

The city is working on what is called Transit Oriented Development only they will not simply tell you that because if they did and we understood what they were really up to, many of us would not agree to it.

(Read the Central Oklahoma Transit Supportive Guidebook)

Transit Oriented Development  (also called New Urbanism or Smart Growth) calls for high density mixed use developments. link

Today, TOD means building high density projects at transit stops, such as a light rail stations. Providing places to live, work, and shop within close distance of a rail station helps drive ridership on the transit system. http://iqc.ou.edu/2011/09/28/urban-design-in-territorial-oklahoma/

Transit-Oriented Development — moderate- to high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods concentrated at transit stops and designed to maximize access to and use of public transportation. http://www.epa.gov/dced/codeexamples.htm

So, who really wants transit oriented development?  The federal government does.  And ACOG wants it because federal transportation dollars are contingent upon it.  The city wants transit oriented development because it is part of ACOG’s regional transportation plan.

Since when does the federal government dictate city planning?  The answer is they can’t, not directly anyways but by using the carrot and the stick method the federal government is doing it and ACOG and our city council rather than standing up to this travesty and letting the good people of Oklahoma who value their sovereignty and local control are working right along with them.  And this, we will be told, is what WE want.  It is OUR plan.

Here is just one example of new federal initiatives that have completely changed the game.

Obama Administration Proposes Major Public Transportation Policy Shift
to Highlight Livability
Changes Include Economic Development and Environmental Benefits

In a dramatic change from existing policy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on livability issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.

In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, the Secretary announced the Obama Administration’s plans to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts and Small Starts programs.

“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” said Secretary LaHood. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.” http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2009/fta0110.htm

If you are wondering what these “livability principles” are, you can click here to read them.

In an March 2012 ACOG transportation  meeting, Commissioner Mark Sharpton goes on record calling out the ‘Livability Principles” for what they are and his reaction to the suggestion of incorporating them into our region-wide transportation policies brought forth an entirely appropriate response form this red-blooded American;

You know, I actually feel for the city council and even ACOG.  They are between a rock and a hard place for sure.  But you know what?  I am more concerned about the people of this great state and what the future will look like for us and our children if this is allowed to continue.

We don’t get to vote for those who presume to represent us on ACOG (which is just one of a number of problems with the whole arrangement) but we DO vote for our city council members still even though they often appear to be being led by the nose by their staff.  They have to stand up for us or pay the price at the ballot box.  We should insist that our City Council put an end to this farce!

I am sending a copy of this post to my councilman.  If you have concerns, you should contact yours as well. You can find their contact info here

They said they just wanted to know if we want higher density development.  How about NO?!

The residents of Norman should know that the City cannot accomplish their hidden goals without our approval.  Do you think that they would bother to mess with all of these meetings to manipulate us into agreeing if they didn’t have to?

“Because the projects are routinely deemed illegal under local zoning laws and go against most conventional development practices, the new urbanists have pioneered new approval techniques (notably the town planning charrette).” Link

I have much more to say about this charade (I mean charrette!) the City is putting us through but for now I will leave you with this incredibly thoughtful speech made by Lolita Buckner Inniss, J.D., L.L.M. Associate Professor of Law, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law,  Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio in 2008.

. . .what I’m going to be offering here is a critique of New Urbanism in general and “form-based code” in particular and as a tool of New Urbanism. I also want to talk about the fact that form-based code, while it’s often touted as being more flexible than zoning and is a great method to overcome a number of the problems that we see in our cities—urban decay, segregation, economic downturns, what I began to see, however, particularly as I taught the first year on property, is that form-based code is not generally doing what advocates said.

. . .First and foremost, it tries to do by design what was ultimately spontaneous. What it comes down to, and I’ll talk about this in more detail, is that in the city as we have known it and have come to understand it in the United States, and certainly also in Europe, city growth was spontaneous growth. I think it’s problematic from the outset to assume that you can do now by design what it has taken us one hundred years to do in our urban areas. I think you would have to challenge any plan that purports to design something that didn’t come about by design. So that’s one of the first problems I’ve had with it.

. . .

Next, New Urbanism. As I’ll talk about in a few moments, when you talk about form-based code, you’re really talking about one of the principal tools of what’s called the new urbanism, sort of a way of getting back to the “old urbanism” and the old city. What I’ll discuss is the fact that the new urbanism, like the old urbanism—that’s deeply contested. The city that you and I may remember may be very different than the city that somebody else remembered. So again it’s problematic when someone purports to put together a plan that’s supposed to take us back to the old urbanism. We all remember and lived in different types of cities, and so there’s no way that we’re going to design something that reflects a vision. There is no single vision. There are multiple visions that could never begin to be incorporated in any one single vision, So that’s another problem.

Finally, the charette process, as Carol mentioned, relies on the “community” in order to sort of pull together form-based code plans. All too often it doesn’t work out as claimed, which is one of the things I talk about in my essay where I discuss the rebuilding of New Orleans that’s the basis for this talk. That’s a wonderful example of what happens when you claim that the community is going to be represented. All too often, form-based code plans end up representing the elites who put them together, who bring in the experts, who all too often monopolize the talk that’s going on. And it’s a wonderful way for a very, very small strand of people in the community to have their views represented as “what everybody wants.” All too often, that’s simply not the case.

Read more

June 25, 2012, City of Norman 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan Public Meeting 7PM-9PM

Kaye Beach

June 24, 2012

2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan Public Meeting Link




Just Released-



You can view a video overview of the water planning issues.

Mentioned in that video is the Oklahoma Water Regional Trust.  Here is a Power Point presentation about the creation of that Trust from 2010. Oklahoma Regional Water Utility Trust Presentation-1

Tulsa Beacon: City of Norman Tactically Employs Ridicule to Sway Opinions

Kaye Beach

June 22, 2012

This article was published June 20 th in the Tulsa Beacon.  The author if the article is Randy W.  Bright, AIA, NCARB, a well respected Tulsa architect.

Bright immediately picks up on the the shaming tactics employed by the City of Norman in their framing of the the issue which is supposed to be about whether or not to allow high density development however the scheduling of six facilitated “community  discussions” on the issue plus the bent of the City’s presentation indicates that there is more to all of this than meets the eye.

The residents of the City of Norman are, once again, being ‘framed’.  As if we are children, the City will walk us through their ‘charettes’ (really charades!) and lead us to an outcome that limits our choices and further compromises our property rights.  Then,  we will be told that this is what we said we wanted.

Can we not build communities without over-regulation?

by Randy Bright

I don’t read Cosmopolitan, and never have, but when I’m in the supermarket checkout line and see the magazine I think about a story that came out several years ago about how they get the cover photo shot. The girl on the cover always looks perfect, but if you could get her to turn around, her clothing is pulled tightly to her body with dozens of clamps, pins and safety pins.
Sometimes perfection just isn’t what it seems.
Administrators in Norman, Okla., recently began the process of introducing the idea that form-based codes, Smart Growth, and high-density development are what their city needs.
According to an article by researcher Kaye Beach (axxiomamuse.wordpress.com), the city is holding meetings to see if they should codify high-density development.
The facilitated meeting began with a Power Point presentation explaining what Smart Growth and New Urbanism was, and how they related to dense developments.
Things became more clear when a slide entitled, “Pros and Cons of Density” was shown. It said, “It is promoted by those who value urban streetscapes, efficient infrastructure supply, walkable neighborhoods, and increased housing options.

Increased density is opposed by those who imagine ugly buildings, overshadowed open space, parking problems and irresponsible residents.”
In other words, those in favor of density have values, those who do not are ignorant and uninformed. Even if I did not already know about form-based codes and high-density development, I am always suspicious when ridicule is used to sway people. After all, who wants to be identified with the ignorant and uninformed?

Read the entire article here

Norman’s First High Density Development Meeting and Info About Form Based Codes

Kaye Beach

June 12, 2012

Last evening the City of Norman Oklahoma held its first community dialog on high density development. The issue is whether or not the City should codify high density development.  Presently, this issue is not addressed in any of the City’s planning documents.  A sudden spate of requests from developers for extremely high density (100 + dwelling units per acre) development is apparently what has brought this issue to the fore.

Attendees to last nights meeting were first given a presentation to inform us on the subject of high density development.  City planners were kind enough to put the presentation online.  You can access it here

The schedule for future meetings can be accessed here.

We were informed that future meetings would be facilitated and met the gentlemen who would be in charge of that task, Bob Thomas from the Xenia Institute, who gave us a few words of wisdom on the art of listening.

The presentation explains why the issue before the community, describes current use and density zoning, explains how density is figured, the pros and cons of high density development and defines terms like ‘infill development’ and ‘redevelopment’.  The presentation also touched on concepts like open space, sprawl, Smart Growth

and New Urbanism

accompanied by pictures depicting the various concepts covered.  Then the meeting moved to questions and answers.

Here is the ‘Pros and Cons’ of density slide.  It is obvious that really cool people are for it and only those whose imaginations run away from them are against it.

Seriously?   There are many pros and cons to this type of development.  When you are doing a power point, you have to just hit the bottom line.  The City of Norman thinks this is the bottom line in this issue.  Awesome people on one side,  jerks on the other.  If you oppose high density development you oppose “quality of life” for your city.  Jerk.

If I were to assign a theme to the questions asked I would say that generally people were curious about what the purpose high density development served.  For example, the first question asked was from a lady who wanted to know where she could find out what high density development was really about.  Another lady wanted to know were we discussing just one high density development or many.

One of the Norman City Council members, Carol Dillingham,  explained that the City currently has no zoning ordinances to accommodate high density development at all and that the purpose of these discussions is to determine whether or not we want this kind of development and if so what we want our ordinance to look like.  Councilwoman Dillingham assured the audience that the City Council has no preconceived notions on the issue.

Here is a write up on last night’s city meeting from the Norman Transcript;

June 12, 2012

High Density development community forum

Another article of interest, also from the Norman Transcript is one published on June 9, several days prior to the first meeting to discuss high density development.

And another article also published in the Norman Transcript on June 9, 2012;

Creating a vision for Norman’s future

When I first read this I was unsure as to what to make of it because it dives right into the notion of a “new vision” for our city before we have even begun the discussion.   This particular vision, emanating from Mr. Blair Humphreys, an urban designer and  the executive director for the Institute for Quality Communities,  is one of form based codes.

The presentation given to Norman residents last evening included information on Smart Growth and New Urbanism and one thing these two concepts of city planning has in common is the use of form based codes.

Norman City Planners would deny that they were setting us up to inplement Form Based Codes but things like this make me wonder . . .The Urban Land Institute explains that, “Good intentions must be backed up by good regulations such as Form-Based Coding,”  and they held a training event to teach people like Norman City Planner, Susan Connors, how to back up their good intentions with Form Based Codes.

(Click on the picture to see just how many Oklahoma officials have been educated on implementation of Form Based Codes.)

So,  what is a ‘form based code’ anyways?

According to Mr. Humphreys, “form-based codes are more effective in guiding a vision than traditional zoning and land use regulations.”

According to others, form based codes are a nightmare;

‘I thought that Forms Based Code was supposed to be an easy, simple alternative but this is a freaking nightmare.’ link

What is this small business owners beef? Well, the new form based code prohibits many of the building features of his business.  His business is grandfathered in under the city’s new form based codes but he knows that no future owner will buy his property should he wish to sell because it does not conform to the form based code requirements and would cost the new owner a fortune to bring into compliance.

With only a little research, the problems with form based code becomes evident.

This article covers some of the  problems with form based codes.  Here is another one – Form-based code is problem, not answer  And one more take on the issue.

Remember that zoning allows the municipality to use its police powers to exercise authority over privately owned property so we want to very careful about instituting any new zoning.

Form based code is prescriptive meaning that rather than telling property owners what they cannot do on or with their property (which is difficult enough to accept) they are told what they must do with their property.  The purpose of this sort of zoning is to speed up the transition into “sustainable” cities.  That means 3 story buildings built right up on the sidewalks,  retail on the bottom floor and residential on top, high density, low cars (and carbon),  walk-your-big-butt-around-in cities.  If you want more zoning hassles, less control over your property, less choices about your lifestyle and tighter buns-then form based codes are for you!

Achieving sustainability using form based codes (click on picture to see the powerpoint)

Norman Oklahoma’s High Density Destiny

Kaye Beach
June 7 2012
The City of Norman Oklahoma is apparently looking at adding high density development to its zoning regime.  Look at the map above.   Are we running out of open space in this state any time soon?
100- 165 dwelling units per acre that feature six story structures with “limited parking to encourage walking rather than using automobiles” are being discussed.


A series of public meetings beginning June 11 will be held to receive public input.


Norman city leaders set series of high-density discussions
By Joy Hampton

Posted:  06/07/2012

Infill, redevelopment, multi-family housing, high density — these terms have become common recently in Norman’s zoning and development discussions.

. . .High-density requests have been coming to Norman, but the city has no ordinances to allow for or guide high-density development. City leaders want to create a policy to address the growing area of concern. To that end, the city has scheduled several public meetings to discuss the issue.

A series of six public discussions regarding high-density regulations has been scheduled between June 11 and Aug. 30 to “gather public input regarding a number of factors involved in high-density development,” according to a  press release issued by the city this week.

. . .High-density infill is also a means of containing population growth to urbanized areas while protecting green space and agricultural designations on the edge of cities.

Read the article here

Patrick Wood to Speak in Norman, OK April 28th on Technocracy, Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development

Editor of The August Review and The August Forecast, Wood is an expert on international economics, globalization and finance. He is co-author of Trilaterals Over Washington with the late Antony C. Sutton.

Kaye Beach

April 26, 2012

A message from Patrick Wood;

Dear Friend,

On Saturday, I will be addressing the Norman, OK Tea Party on the timely subject of Technocracy, Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development. If you are in Oklahoma, north Texas or even Kansas, I encourage you to attend and get some great information. It will be from 10:00am-3:00pm and the details are below. Please RSVP if you want to attend so they can estimate the food requirements for lunch.

UN Agenda 21 Conference
APRIL 28, 2012, 10:00 AM – 3:00
First Assembly of God Church of Norman
2500 E. Lindsey
Norman, OK 73071
Cost $20.00 per person or $35.00 per couples
Email to teaparty@weblawman.com
Or call 405-360-1716

As always, please repost this invitation into Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. to let others know as well.

Yours for Liberty,

Patrick Wood, Editor
The August Forecast & Review

Click for more info!


April Friday the13th, 2012 Norman Oklahoma Tornado News

Kaye Beach

April 13, 2012

Well that was close!  We are in NW Norman and the tornado passed east of us.

Will update with any relevant news, video or pics.

Stay safe Okies!  This isn’t over yet…

April 13, 2012 4:11 PM

Tornado On the Ground

NORMAN, Oklahoma –

A tornado touched down in Norman near highway 9 and I-35 Friday afternoon.

Power lines are down near SW 24th St. and Lindsey. The tornado is rain-wrapped and will be difficult to see. Reports of heavy hail near Alameda and 60th.

All Norman Schools are keeping kids inside and buses that were en route to homes have been called back. We have heard that windows at Norman High have been blown out.

New 9 has learned that the University of Oklahoma is also keeping students inside at this point.

Damage has been reported in the area of Boyd Street and McGee Drive in Norman. Power lines are down near Boyd Street and Jenkins Avenue and building damage at 12th and Robinson.

Read more

From KFOR chopper: some tornado damage in Norman, Okla link

Norman, Oklahoma, schools keeping children at the schools; elementary students on buses have been sent back to schools – @NEWS9

4:47 Gas leaks reported in Norman

4:53 500 block of University, odor of gas

Power lines down along Nebraska (mid Norman)

South of Norman Regional 4:55 PM

From Twitter;

Anita @redrivergrl

Spring in Oklahoma ~ tornado season Norman, Oklahoma http://pic.twitter.com/OVzqhCkk

Damage Reports Popping Up All Over Norman Area

Posted: Apr 13, 2012 5:41 PM CDT Updated: Apr 13, 2012 6:21 PM CDT

By Matthew Nuttle, News9.com –

A tornado touched down in Norman near highway 9 and I-35 at about 4 p.m. Friday causing damage around the area.

Several cities were affected by the tornado, including Norman, Stella, and Lake Thunderbird. Interstate 35 between mile markers 107 and 115 was also affected.

Power lines are down near SW 24th St. and Lindsey. The tornado was rain-wrapped and was difficult to see. There were reports of heavy hail near Alameda and 60th. Downed power lines closed the roads at NW 24th and Lindsey.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at the Whittier Recreation Center located at 2000 W. Brooks in Norman.

Read more

April 14, 2012

You Tube videos start showing up;

This dude doesn’t know where he lives.

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by

Published on Apr 13, 2012 by



Footage from the OU stadium of the tornado that touched down in Norman, Oklahoma on April 13th, 2012.


Published on Apr 13, 2012 by

Another look at the tornado that hit Norman, OK.

Pressing Issues About OG&E’s Smart Meter Rollout

Kaye Beach

Dec 27, 2011


Over the last few weeks I have been discussing the issues and concerns about OG&E’s smart meter rollout with a gentleman with an extensive background in areas relevant to smart meters/smart grid in order to better understand the technology, specifically the technology being used by OG&E in its implementation of the Positive Energy® Smart Grid program.

This gentleman is an electrical engineer and published author with dozens of patents in digital communications and network storage.  He is the founder, contributor  and executive for multiple hi-tech companies including an internet company and he has decades of service to his credit on National Standards Committees. He does not wish to be personally identified at this time so I will refer to him simply as a “consultant”  Due to the nature of his work, this consultant also has more than a passing familiarity with business law and also  property and intellectual rights which adds considerable dimension to the discussions regarding the smart meter program in Oklahoma.

OG&E’s Positive Energy® Smart Grid program stresses that it is “in partnership” with OG&E’s customers, however, many customers that I have spoken with do not think that they are in any way being treated as “partners” with OG&E.   The reason why is both obvious and likely responsible for much of the ire that has been raised by the installation of smart meters by OG&E-the customer has absolutely no say so in the matter.  There are no options for OG&E customers, they must accept the new meters which enable two way communications between consumer’s meters and the utility.

The authority for mandating the installation of the smart meters, according to Kenneth Grant, Managing Director of Positive Energy® Smart Grid, comes from rules promulgated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission






I will be posting more information gathered in my correspondence and discussions with my consultant but for now, the basics.

Here is his explanation on how OG&E’s system works followed by what the consultant believes to be the issues of greatest concern.

The network that the utility uses is composed of several layers.  The collection layer is called a “mesh”.  Each meter on each home is both a send and receive radio. 

Your information is broadcast to all of the homes in your surrounding neighborhood for a radius that can sometimes exceed a mile. 

Other homes pick up your information and pass it along.  Multiple homes will receive your information and your home will likewise receive the information from multiple homes.  The intent is to create a redundant “net” of radios that relays information to a central hub, where it eventually is transmitted to the Utility’s central servers over a combination of microwave transmitters and Fiber. 

Every home is required to have a meter that contains a 900 MHz radio and a 2.3GHz radio.  Those radios are always on in listening mode.  OG&E’s implementation will transmit data from each home at least once every 4 hours, and as often as once per hour.

It is not the aims of OG&E that our consultant takes issue with so much as the means in which the utility has chosen to accomplish those aims.

I agree with the ability of the utility to be able to transfer ownership, do load-based billing, pre-paid billing, etc. and to manage their network remotely.  However, the means that OG&E has chosen to employ is invasive and tramples on individual property and privacy rights.

Smart Meters do not have any inherent money or energy saving abilities.  They are touted as being effective due to their ability to help customers monitor their energy usage and make behavioral changes based on that data.  However, as the consultant explains, it is the utilities that are the most obvious beneficiaries of the cost cutting benefits of smart meters.

According to the consultant;  The major advantage of the smart meter is not that it allows customers to save energy – it does not.  It saves the utility millions of dollars in payroll to read meters, it allows them to charge different rates depending on the time of day that electricity is being used, and it allows them to turn meters on and off remotely without a physical visit to the home. . .  It appears that this cost savings is the principle costs savings to the Smart Meter program.

The consultant identifies the following as the most pressing issues and concerns regarding OG&E’s smart meter/grid rollout;

1)       Utility companies are essentially government sponsored monopolies.  In Oklahoma there is oversight by the commission, but the commission operates independently from the legislature.  That allows policy to be made without public review.  I find that to be dangerous.

2)       A consumer needs reasonable property rights to prevent the utility from forcing him/her to submit to RF as a term of service (there are solutions like the one that OEC uses that do not require that)

3)       A consumer should have reasonable rights having to do with the amount of personal information that is transmitted to the utility.  If you are billed once per month, they should only be allowed to read it once per month.  This is a huge privacy issue.  Someone privy to that information can discern a great deal of personal information about the individual.  Primary consideration from a theft perspective is knowledge of whether is someone is normally at home during the day, on vacation, etc.

4)       A consumer should have rights against being into becoming a part of the utility information network.  Current implementation by OG&E as I understand it forces the homeowner to receive and pass along information from other consumers in the area.  That is done without the consumer’s knowledge or consent.  It is like being forced to allow the utility access to your property to read your neighbors meter, or being forced to be a radio transmitter without your consent.

5)       The use of the 900Mhz and 2.4Ghz frequencies for data transmission.  The OG&E meters have radios that are capable of picking up use on those bands.  That information could be used to detect when TV remote controls are being used, garage door openers, internet, cordless phones, and even TV remotes.  That is not the intended use, but the capability exists within the meters.

Essentially, even though every person that uses radio will guarantee that their network and information is safe and invulnerable, the only real way to protect personal information is to not collect it at all.

6)       The meters have the ability to upload new code remotely, so their functionality can be changed at any time by an authorized individual, or potentially by a hacker without the homeowner’s knowledge

In addition, this consultant raises some concerns about the vulnerability of OG&E’s smart meters to electronic attacks.

Are smart meters secure from electronic attacks?

No.  At least not the ones being used by OG&E.   No wireless electronic device can be secure from electronic attacks.  Just as no mechanical device can be secure from an explosion.  The issue with electronic attacks is that they are often undetected and can also cover a very large number of devices simultaneously.

Electronic attacks can take several forms. 

(a)  Direct interception of data

(b)  Hijacking data input or output

(c)  “Man-in-the-Middle” attacks

(d)  Hijacking of the meter and re-programming

(e)  Viruses

(f)   EMP

(g)  Ability to monitor several properties electronically to check for patterns indicating no one home during the day or vacation mode.

Most important, even if the data transmission itself is secure, the data will eventually reside on a server somewhere.  Servers containing banking information and credit card information are routinely hacked.  Utilities are hacked.  Satellites are hacked.  Military drones are hacked.  The only information that cannot somehow be compromised is information that is never transmitted or stored.

More to come….

The City of Norman’s “Community Involvement” is for Kindergartners

Kaye Beach

Nov 11, 2011

At the Wednesday evening’s combined Ward 3 and 8 meeting for the City of Norman’s “Moving Forward” (This is the name given to Norman’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan)public participation planning participants were told by Shawn O’Leary-Norman Public Works that;

“Over the last two years the Norman City Council has sort of collectively decided that maybe we should maybe have a comprehensive transportation plan”

“Maybe”?  “Sort of”?

Come on.  The decision to have a comprehensive plan has been decided and the parameters have already been set.

We were told that these meeting were just the “first step” and that these meetings are a “listening process”

Shawn O’Leary tells us that first they are asking us;

 “Should we have a plan?”

“Businesses have business plans.  Families have family plans.  Norman doesn’t have a plan. . . if we have a plan, what would you like to have in it.”

He also tells us that some prior participants thought the “whole idea was the silliest thing they we have ever done, that is a waste of taxpayer’s money” to the amusement of what seemed to be the majority of the group present who thought that the idea of not having a plan was the silliest thing that they ever heard.

At this point, the average person is going to think ‘Oh dear, if I don’t think we don’t need a comprehensive plan, all of these people are going to think I am silly.’  but never fear.  They make you squirm a little and then save you from this potential embarrassment by never giving you a chance or a box to check for NO.

You may have heard through the grapevine that at an earlier meeting one of the mildest mannered residents of Norman was  escorted out of the meeting for daring to try to actually actively participate, if you did hear about that incident then you might feel that much more relieved that they make it so easy to just go with the flow by providing little opportunity for dissent.

Let me tell you a little story.  When my headstrong daughter was younger (it doesn’t work on her anymore) I would circumvent head butting with her in this way; by posing as a phoney “partner” and offering her carefully pre-approved choices.

Really, we know that the options for liquids that one could drink are many, the ones that I might have in the house at any particular time is usually limited to several options but should I happen to have Kool-aid, milk, water, cokes and juice on hand, but really didn’t want her drinking a bunch of sugar, I would offer her a “choice”   As if we were equals, you know, “partners”.   That “choice” of course, was between two or three items acceptable to me (the boss). “Would you like water, juice or milk, darling”?   She was perfectly free to “choose” any one of those limited options and thus feeling empowered, was a lot less likely to fuss about it.  That game hasn’t worked for years but when she was between 2-5, it almost always did.

Another of my favorite techniques for manipulating my child into doing what was best for her was to distract her and I was good at it!    When she started paying attention to the wrong thing or I sensed a fight coming on I would pull the “Hey!  Look over here!” routine and find something bright and shiny to break her concentration while I babbled on incessantly about some inane thing.

This is the same methodology being used by the City of Norman and their professional facilitators paid for by you-the taxpayer.

I will say that these guys have it down to a fine art.  Of course when they don’t they can always call on Norman’s police officers to back them up by  intimidating the public at THEIR meeting.

Way to go Norman PD!

There is lots to this process but in the midst of all of the  “visions” of bike trails, choo-trains and regional connectivity, please,  don’t miss this part of it;

Mayor Rosenthal said this will be the first CTP [Comprehensive Transportation Plan] for the City and will essentially be the foundation for future land use decisions.

Sept 22. 2011  http://www.scribd.com/doc/72222741/2011-09-22-Comm-Plann-Transp-Committee

The plans laid now will effect the character of our town-no matter what, all plans need to respect the property and liberty of each person.  I hate to be pessimistic, but that is not what I am getting here.

This effort is called “Moving Forward”-Creating a Comprehensive Transportation Plan for the City of Norman

The City of Norman is embarking on a multi-year process to develop a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for our community called “Moving Forward” link

It isn’t a question. We will be “moving forward” with a Comprehensive Transportation Plan for the City of Norman.

 The “Moving Forward” Plan will serve as Norman’s long-term vision for a range of transportation options and accommodations including vehicles, bicycling, walking, and public transit services. link

Shawn O’Leary says that;

“Our job is to report back to the council what you told us.”

Will everything we told them really be reported back to the City Council?  Maybe so but what about Lochner? 

What was the the firm, H.W. Lochner specifically hired for?

The City’s website tells us that they;

“hired the consultant firm H.W. Lochner, Inc., (Lochner) to lead the community listening process which will result in a series of community transportation planning goals and policies.”

Let’s look at the contract;

Lochner was contracted to hold 8 Ward meetings to engage residents in “facilitated exercises and consensus building“, in order to “build a sense of ownership in the process and the eventual Transportation Plan Recommendations.”

The cost for Lochner’s professional manipulation prowess to the taxpayers almost 43, 000 dollars.   This is a contract and it means exactly what it says-no more, no less.   In order to get paid, the firm is  legally required to do what is laid out in that contract that they signed.

So,  Lochner’s mission is to;

  • “build a sense of ownership”  (for the regular Joes that  might show up at the Ward meetings) and to
  • produce the “eventual Transportation Plan Recommendations”

Eventual is defined as  “expected to follow in the indefinite future from causes already operating”   

The product that the City is expecting Lochner to produce is the “Transportation Plan Recommendations”   This is a proper noun, a specific and NOT a general thing.

Lochner cannot submit to the Norman City Council just any old transportation plan recommendations and get paid.  It has to be THE “Transportation Plan Recommendations” meaning the recommendation are already set, specified, defined…meaning the people of Norman are being manipulated to a set of conclusion that has already been approved as acceptable in much the same manner as I and many parents have managed our little children’s “choices”

Even though we are being told that the ward meetings are ” really just the exploratory part, this is not really in the transportation plan, this is  the listening phase“-the goals are already set and they just need us to fulfill the illusion of public involvement.

Here are some facts;

-The real first step was a scoping effort to determine the “issues and goals that will be developed for the ultimate plan” link  (to be more accurate-the very first step was really  this Encompass 2035)

-After the issues and goals were determined discussions were held about the plan with “Stakeholders that will provide guidance in the CTP development.” link   These “stakeholders” get special accommodations by Lochner for interviews because they might have difficulty in attending a regularly scheduled public meeting. (Pg 8, Lochner contract with the City of Norman)

The consultant, Lochner, is directed by contract to summarize the plans,  policies and goals of the City of Norman (meaning the City council and their staff) for submission to the public.

-The project was “kicked off” with a meeting between the Steering Committee (which is the Norman Transportation Committee) and the Stakeholder Visioning Committee in which the key issues to be presented to the public were identified.

The “Critical Successes” that “must result in order for community involvement to be a success” were to be covered (agreed to, established, set) at this “kick off” meeting.

The “Critical Successesdiscussed in the kick off meeting is your Comprehensive Transportation Plan for the future of your town.

Lochner’s job is to return to the City Council with these “Critical Successes” achieved or the community involvement will be considered a failure.

Read the contract between the City of Norman and Lochner.

Let There Be Light

I did hear some comments from other attendees that I was enthusiastic about like “We need better lighting-it’s too dark”  I was glad someone brought this up.  It was two ladies who put most of their little  day-glo stickers by this item.(participants were given 10 of these stickers to “spend” on the items we really supported by sticking them next to the item written on a large pad of paper on an easel)  I had thought the darkness issue  was just me and that I was going blind.    I added some of my stickers to their suggestion.  The rest of mine mostly went to “maintenance” issues

Another lady, who made a great point that apparently did not get logged on the official “yellow sheet”  about the light rail that everyone seemed so enthusiastic about, said that she said she was from northern California and the light rail project there was a disaster.  It was costing billions and no one would ride it. She suggested that we expand our existing bus system as needed.

Since her well-reasoned comment apparently did not make it to the official yellow sheet-she was told to write it down on a pad of paper called “The Parking Lot” Isn’t that cute? (I bet the “parking lot” is actually file 19.)

I had asked the two ladies at my table, Susan Conner, from the City of Norman Planning Dept. and Teresa Capps, a member of the Stakeholder Visioning Committee, who were very enthusiastic about light rail from Norman to OKC, if that sort of transportation really made sense in this area of the country.  After all, we are in a recession and surely it would be a very costly endeavor…unsurprisingly, they were not deterred and Light Rail was prominently included on our official “yellow sheet “

For those who, like myself, discovered that some of the recommendations that they contributed to the process did not get logged on the official “yellow sheet” or who did not get a chance to attend or may have been too intimidated after police action was taken on one gentlemen-you may also register your input on the City of Norman’s  “moving Forward” Facebook page.

I was told that this is a valid means for registering comments and suggestions and will be presented to the City Council along with the other community input items gathered at the Ward meetings.

These types of meetings serve two purposes;

1) Federal transportation funding often requires it

2) As a former mayor of an Oklahoma city told me, they have them so you can’t come back later and gripe that you don’t agree with the plan.  After all, you had your opportunity to speak up at the public input meeting and you didn’t.

Wed. July 19th 5:30 pm Norman City Council Discussion Regarding Council Ethics Amendment


This is  a study session and is an opportunity for residents of Norman to listen and learn.  The topic seems to be a contentious one judging from the last City Council meeting. (Topic is raised at about 38 minutes into the video)

Video and documents from the last City Council meeting (see link for 7-12-11)


TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2011
5:30 P.M.
Additional support documentation will be forwarded electronically prior to the

The City of Norman’s government access channel airs on channel 20 for Cox Cable subscribers.