Charles Norman profiled


Attorney Charles Norman has dominated the field of zoning and land use in Tulsa for over thirty years, and Urban Tulsa has published a profile of Norman in this week's issue. Norman has had a long and influential career, and you need to read this article to understand this force that has shaped Tulsa's politics and physical development.

I'm quoted in the piece. I'm described as one of "Norman's detractors," which isn't really the case. I have a lot of respect for the man, but I do believe that his opinions are given more creedence by the planning commissioners and certain councilors than they deserve. Just because he wrote the zoning code 35 years ago doesn't mean that he should be the authoritative interpreter of it. There's an inaccuracy a bit later in the article: I am not a co-founder of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. I became involved in the group in March 1998, about four months after its founding by neighborhood leaders like Scott Swearingen, Stacey Bayles, and Maria Barnes.

I've often thought that someone needs to write a biography of Charles Norman or to help him write his own memoirs. There's a lot of Tulsa history there that needs to be captured on paper.

There's one quote from the story that deserves special attention, describing our previous form of city government:

At the time, four commissioners and a virtually powerless mayor, beyond mere persuasion, could not contend with the amount of problems. What the commissioners couldn’t handle was shifted to the city attorney’s office. A Tulsa World reporter once jokingly described the system as a “strong city attorney form of government.”

Seems to me the description still fits.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 21, 2005 7:55 AM.

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