Equal Rights Amendment

What an amazing, poignant moment! My comments regarding this resolution encouraging the Oklahoma legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment:

"I'm thankful to Breea Clark for sparking this idea and grateful to staff for spit-shining the draft resolution I wrote. I really like writing resolutions because it helps me dive into these issues and give them the serious thought and consideration they are due.

I have to admit, drafting this resolution made me feel pretty emotional and reflective about how issues of gender inequality have impacted the generations of women in my family.

When my grandmother was born, women only had the right to vote for 15 years. Until the early 1970s, it was legal (and common) to deny her or my mother a credit card without a man's co-signature. My mother could still be legally fired for becoming pregnant until 1978, and the last military academy's all-male admission policy was not forcibly lifted until the mid-1990s, less than a decade before I would be going to college myself.

This resolution urging the passage of the ERA recognizes that equality of pay, job opportunities, political representation, education, and health care (including reproductive health care) will remain elusive without an explicit guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.

This is of particular importance for women of color, women with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA community.

24 states have language that provide various degrees of legal protection against sex discrimination.

Oklahoma is not one of them. Are any of you surprised?

The word equal appears 49 times in our state constitution, not once referring to equal protection under the law."


Bike Skills Course Coming to Ward 1!

I am so excited to see this bike skills course come to fruition! It will be located on the NW corner of 24th and Lindsey on 12 acres of park land the topography of which makes it difficult to use for much else. I have long been a proponent of sports/activities that have a reduced environmental impact, preserve green space, and have low barriers of entry (particularly the financial cost to participate). I have also been assured that parts of this design will be universally accessible to those with physical disabilities, and the entire course is accessible to anyone using adaptive equipment. The widening of 24th with full bike lanes will increase access to this park, and if all goes according to schedule, it should be open in the spring of 2019! One of the main concerns I heard from Ward 1 residents was the lack of activities for their kids. Soon Ward 1 residents will have a fun, free place for their kids to spend time outdoors!


Breastfeeding Awareness Month

The August 14th council agenda will include a proclamation proclaiming August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month - a document I was honored to author, inspired by Erica Millar and with great input and assistance by Breea Clark and Erica Bird.

The choice to breastfeed has been one of the biggest challenges of motherhood for me and I am so grateful to have been supported by my job(s), city council colleagues, and friends throughout this entire journey. If I hadn't, it would never have been possible for me to continue this long. Mothers are subjected to critique and incredible hurdles no matter what they choose, and we should be making all of these choices easier whenever we can.

Keep an eye out for additional breastfeeding and family-friendly initiatives in the coming months.

OU Foundation Pulls Arena Plan

I would not have supported allowing OU to withdraw their arena proposal. Voters deserved to see their councilmembers take a formal stance on the arena, and allowing OU to withdraw the proposal relieves councilmembers of that task.

Additionally, I firmly believe the OU Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce will do what they can to fund candidates that would be amenable to an arena proposal. I expect them to identify and recruit candidates for mayor and several council seats. I expect them to quietly put lots of money in those races. I do NOT expect the candidates they recruit to be vocal in support of the arena. Some might even include an anti-TIF stance in their platforms. Those candidates better be willing to do the hard campaign work. We’ve found out in recent years that $$ alone doesn’t win elections.

OU is not going to change this plan. They’re going to change this council.


NO on UNP TIF, NO on Arena

Tomorrow night, city council will consider a resolution to move the UNP project plan forward to the statutory TIF committee for their review. I will not be at tomorrow night's meeting because in February I planned a trip to visit my parents (and July is typically the slowest council month), but I would be voting no if I was there.

I would be doing so for several reasons: the process has been flawed, full of secrecy, and has already damaged public trust - which we didn't have a whole lot of before this whole debacle anyway. The project plan also includes funds to be used outside the TIF increment and project areas for a purpose that council (and the public) was never briefed on nor agreed to. I have not seen compelling evidence that committing public funds for this proposal will benefit the city as a whole. And lastly, we have other critical issues requiring a public vote on which this issue will have a significant impact. The overwhelming feedback I have received from Ward 1 residents has reinforced these points as well.

Pedestrian Safety at the New East Side Library

I met with city staff today along with Councilmember Clark to discuss safety measures for the east side library (opening early this summer!).

After school has let out, significant striping and lane changes will be installed to make entering and exiting both the library and Ridge Lake Boulevard easier and safer. Additionally, the speed limit from 36th Ave to the library will be dropped from the current 50 mph to 40 mph, and a street lamp will be requested from OG&E to be installed at the corner of the library and Alameda to continually light the intersection for pedestrian safety.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project! I'm glad we will have these measures in place before the library opens.


Senior Center Plan Wins Council Approval

I'm proud of our council for coming together last night to support a promising solution for a new standalone senior center, an issue that council has discussed for years. Looking forward to ensuring the next steps happen with all due haste so we can continue moving forward towards the 21st century center our seniors deserve.

“The Norman City Council has unanimously approved a plan to use $8.75 million in University North Park TIF funds to build a standalone senior and cultural center on recently acquired land near the YMCA.

The senior center has long been an elusive accomplishment for the city. Despite the fact that it was a part of the Norman Forward quality of life package, there was never a funding mechanism in place. That is, until Tuesday night, when a rule-of-three proposal put forward last week by council members Kate Bierman, Aleisha Karjala, Bill Hickman and Sereta Wilson was amended and passed after 10 p.m. at city hall.

There’s a timeline in place, too.

Hickman’s amendment, which called for a removal of some language and the addition of historical context related to the seniors’ struggle to see a new center realized, also included an April 10 deadline for the University North Park TIF taxing jurisdictions to make a recommendation on the resolution, barring any good cause as to why they cannot meet or render a recommendation. Hickman said the goal was not to alienate the city’s TIF partners but to move the resolution forward with concrete goals.

“The date of April 10 is not cast in stone,” Hickman said. “Good cause simply means there’s a good reason, not just kicking the can down the road but that we’re working together in good faith to get this resolved.”

Mayor Lynne Miller said there are many steps remaining, but after a long night that included some tense disagreement over the use of the rule-of-three and other procedural issues, Miller said Tuesday night was a momentous step forward.

“Everybody up here on this dais has been really concerned about this and done any number of things over the last two years," she said. "I am hopeful that we can take care of it in an expeditious manner and we can get you all in a center that Norman can be proud of."

Despite the long and winding road, the council and members of the public expressed excitement about the future. Hickman said it was a great moment for Norman’s seniors, but it may have been an even more important moment for Norman and the public trust in city government.

“This is a matter of public trust,” he said. “From the first time I was elected in council, at my first meeting with the city manager in May of 2016, before I was even sworn in, I expressed to him then that one of the things I’ve heard from people … was that they didn’t trust this government. There was a lot of suspicion and concern. And that’s troubling. This is a chance, I truly believe, to start rebuilding that trust.”

21st Century Senior Association board chairman Richard Bailey thanked the council and praised the decision on the proposal, which has drawn support from the group.”