On July 10th, 2012, the Bellevue council voted down an idea of running a 45 day trial period for allowing customers at BYOB establishments within this “dry” town to enjoy their libations at designated outdoor seating areas. This vote came after 3 months of vigorous debate within the committee meetings, pre-council, and council meetings. I total of 10 meetings of discussion. The issue was presented to committee THREE times, and was stonewalled for 3 months. Finally, Mark Helbling made a motion to advertise that they were going to vote on it, which lead to 3 more weeks of waiting, and the vote was made on 7/10/12.
They stonewalled it so much that they had to squeeze the 2nd and 3rd reading into one night, followed by the actual vote. Mark Helbling had proposed that instead of voting to change the current ordinance, that they vote to allow a 45 day trial period of the outdoor BYOB. If there were no problems within that 45 day period, they could then vote on changing the actual ordinance. Many of you are probably wondering why the council would vote this idea down? Well as many of you probably know, very rarely do you see people leaving restaurants and falling on their faces from intoxication. It rarely happens. Bars, maybe. But we’re not talking about bars. And the council knows this, as they’re NOT stupid individuals. They have an agenda of keeping Bellevue “dry”, and in their eyes, changing the ordinance to allow BYOB outside, is just one step closer to Bellevue becoming “wet”. They are well aware that the chances of problems being reported from the 45 day trial is slim to none. So it would basically give them no “out” when it comes to voting on changing the ordinance 45 days later.
The corruption within this council is incomprehensible. It was very clear to me, and to the rest of the audience that the 5 council members that voted down the 45 day trial had already discussed and made their decision on this issue far before any discussion was made on the subject on July 10th. I had asked council what their concerns were with the issue on multiple occasions, only to be met with little to no conversation about it. It was clear to me after the first committee meeting that there is an agenda within this council and nothing can sway them from it, not even the pleas of a business owner whose family has lived in Bellevue since 1996, and whose family has owned businesses in town since 2000. The council repeatedly tried to link the failed alcohol referendum of 2011 with the outdoor BYOB debate. The two issues are not related. They’re related in the councils eyes because it’s an easy way out for them. They feel that they’re doing what best for the town, or at least that’s what they’d like you to believe. This council has played a part in the fleeing of multiple small, independent businesses. Pretty soon, Bellevue will be left with dollar stores, check cashing businesses, tobacco stores, and the new addition of a pawn shop (located about 20 feet from the stairs to Bellevue elementary). A stark reminder that these businesses could care less about the community. The small, independent businesses are invested here, many owners live in the borough, and they CARE. I asked a question to council last night, I asked what types of businesses they’d like to see take over the vacant store fronts in town? I said that it was clear that the kind of good businesses that they’ve chased out are not what’s on their agenda, so what types of businesses are? Needless to say, I received zero responses. The proof in in the pudding.
It’s quite unfortunate that the growth and prosperity of an entire town rides on the decisions of 9 people within the walls of borough hall. For 3 months, the public has shown up to meetings demanding that they re-think their governing tactics, and re-think their personal agendas, and consider the fact that the majority of audience members are there in opposition to the agendas that council insists on imposing upon the members of this community. Very rarely do you hear members of the audience state how much they approve of councils agenda. How do the voices of the community keep getting pushed away? Is it not the job of those elected public servants to listen to what the community is saying and vote accordingly? Why have egos, power moves, and personal agendas gotten in the way of allowing the community to prosper? Why is it ok for members of council to consistently vote ordinances in on a whim of “want” instead of a “dire need”? While at the same time, vote “no” to something that clearly works so well all over the world? Allowing beverages outside is not something new, it’s done all over the world. Many have pointed this fact out to them, but it fell on deaf ears. It’s not that they weren’t listening or didn’t believe it, it’s that it doesn’t fall in line with their agenda, so they don’t care. A burning ordinance was put in place to appease the complaining of ONE person, who managed to get a few people to jump on board with her. I presented the council with a petition of 500 signatures paired with lots of candid comments made by the people that signed. ONE chronic complainer = a new ordinance that effects thousands of people in town. 500 signatures = no progress for a small business with its roots in Bellevue. How does this happen?
Unfortunately, they just don’t care. I will once again ask the public, the council members, and any other person that would like to give an answer to this question… WHO BENEFITS FROM A DECLINING TOWN?
Voting breakdown for the 45 day trial was as follows:
Kathy Coder – YES
Jane Braunlich – NO
Jim Scicianni – NO
Mark Helbling – YES
Linda Woshner – NO
Jim Viscussi – NO
Lynn Heffley – ABSENT
Sue Viscussi – No
Frank Camello – YES