Leadership or Bullying? Bellevue’s future is in the balance… by Danina DiBattista

During the August 14th council meeting, several incidences of bullying occurred amongst council members, and between council members and residents alike. Apparently, the Finance Committee can bicker over saving the borough $40/month on a cell phone bill, but they find it uncompromisingly necessary to insist that the borough spends $2,500 on trees to line the parking lot of Bellevue Memorial Park in Ross Township. To be clear, Bellevue borough removed the old trees 3 years ago and should morally replace them. However, the Treasurer stated that we’re nearing the end of the fiscal year and we need to watch our spending. The Solicitor added that there is no ordinance in place that states that Bellevue is legally responsible for replacing the trees. This leaves me with a question, which member/members of the council are being the puppets for a Ross Township resident who may be tired 0f looking at a parking lot when they look out of their window? There are plenty of organizations that provide FREE trees, but it may take a little time. Why is it being pushed through so quickly now, when it’s been ok for the last 3 years? I have a feeling that someone in Ross is making demands. When Sue Viscussi spoke out against Linda Woshner & Jane Braunlich’s attempt to push this item through council, Linda looked as if she was going to explode, shooting Sue a look of displeasure.  Sue said she wanted to explore the option of getting free trees before spending tax payer money. I think most people would consider that a logical response. It was as if Linda & Jane could not comprehend WHY one of their own would question their “authority.”  Sue persisted.  I commend you, Sue.  At the end of the council meeting, Linda and Jane were on Sue like flies, I wonder what the discussion was about?  I encourage Sue Viscussi to stand up to Linda and Jane.  Why be pawns for someone elses agenda?

A more blatant form of bullying occurred during the later discussion about tree planting in Memorial Park paired with its connection to the Bellevue Dog Woods completion. Connie Rankin was standing at the podium speaking about the trees, the dog park, etc… She happened to be blocking Jane Braunlich’s view of Megan Swackhammer, myself, and a few other members of the audience.  Keep in mind that Jane and Connie are leading the efforts for the dog park build-out.  Connie was explaining how they had been working tirelessly to get the park open within the next several weeks.  At this time, Jane physically lifted her bottom from her chair, goosenecked around Connie, and made direct eye contact with Megan and me, shooting us a dirty, bullying look like none other that I’d seen before. I knew immediately that she was silently communicating her displeasure that members of LiB had not been working alongside them during the build out. Many of us, including myself, had heard very little about the dog park until we began coming to meetings. (And please keep in mind, we all have jobs, many of us work on Saturdays, which is the day that the dog park needs volunteers.)  During our attendance at council meetings, it was brought to our attention that the dog park was in need of donations and we decided to try to raise some money through a fundraiser.  If we weren’t able to coordinate our schedules to help them physically on location, we wanted to help financially. You would think the Bellevue Dog Woods Association would be thankful that we were working towards a goal of raising funds for them, especially after a Post Gazette article was released on July 5th quoting that they needed more than $5K to finish the project, and we’re looking for donations from the public. (The full article can be viewed here: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/bellevue-dog-park-needs-a-helping-hand-643450/).  We were met with much resistance from members of the BDWA, stating that they basically didn’t want our donation because we didn’t call them first to ask permission to raise money for them. We had planned to conduct a community dog walk to raise additional funds on top of a plan to bake dog biscuits, sew dog bandanas, and organize a way to encourage locals to make donations. We were told that dog walks generally fail, and “the BDWA doesn’t want to be associated with failure”.  Bullying of this kind should not be tolerated, especially when the organization asked for donations.

At the end if the council meeting, Megan (a private citizen & member of the audience), pulled Jane aside to inquire with her about her goosenecking and dirty looks during the council meeting.  She responded by asking Megan “what have YOU done for the community?”. Megan responded, stating that she had recently began involvement with the council meetings and political process in the Borough. Why would she attack a private citizen in such a bullying way, especially after knowing that this same person participated in raising funds for the Dog Park?  Jane also said “When will we get OUR money?”  Very interesting, as the money that we raised is for the Bellevue Dog Woods, and it does not belong Jane or Connie, or any other individual.  Being so bullying about the money that is “theirs” is distasteful and lacks class.  The majority of the coverage of the BDWA project is published in The Citizen “newspaper,” which many individuals don’t read due to its biased coverage, or lack there of, of local news and events. We were also bullied for “not reading the Citizen to keep up on local news.”

This is my public calling out of Jane Braunlich & Co.  It’s clear that you feel emotionally threatened by LiB.  Could it be because we have continually exposed your bullying ways?  Maybe it’s because we hold you and the rest if your “regime” accountable for the decisions that you’ve made to keep the town and business district on a decline?  Maybe it’s because you feel threatened that the Old Guard is seeing its final days of holding this town back, and you’re scrambling to hold on to that power?  The Bellevue council has been left to its own devices, to make laws and increase regulation with little to no push-back from the public… until now.  You feel threatened that we have the skill, knowledge, education, and man power to expose the majority on council for their agenda-driven, ego-driven, power hungry, bullying ways. You are angry because you’ve been on council since the Stone Age, and you feel that you’re ENTITLED to that position. You’re not, and we’re proving that. Council has sat in the background with their heads in the clouds for nearly 20 years while the business district crumbles around them.  They’ve overlooked and ignored the advice of entrepreneurs, professional advice from business district revitalizing professionals, and many other forms of input from professionals and residents alike.  As a community, we should no longer sit back and allow this type of corrupt behavior to happen right under our noses. We cannot sit back and allow the agenda of 4 or 5 people to define the future of our community.  How many award-winning, family-owned businesses have to close up shop and look elsewhere before the business district crumbles on top of itself, with the residents left to clean up the rubble or leave the Borough in search of something better?

So Bellevue residents, what would you rather have pushing this town forward?  Leadership that uses their power for the positive betterment of our community, business district, and residents?  Or a group of people that use bullying and agendas to silence the residents of this town, and attempt to override any form of progress and prosperity within the community?


9 Responses to “Leadership or Bullying? Bellevue’s future is in the balance… by Danina DiBattista”

  1. Refreshing to hear a community that I once loved begin to take it back, I applaud you

  2. Writers Note: There is a sentence in this blog that I had meant to change before it went live. For transparency reasons, I think it’s only fair to correct it openly, to be considerate to those individuals that are mentioned, as well as portray the situation more clearly.  The sentence can be found in the second paragraph, and it should read as follows:

    At this time, Jane physically lifted her bottom from her chair, goosenecked around Connie, and made direct eye contact with Megan and me, shooting us a dirty, confrontational look like none other that I’d seen before.

  3. Is there a recall process available to
    rid council of these people? Anything in state law or something?

    • Bill,

      Bellevue is a “Home Rule” government, so they make their own rules via the home rule charter. The “recall” opportunity is a very recent trend – one decades newer than the Bellevue charter, so the short answer is unfortunately no. Consider 2014 the recall election.

  4. Mark,
    Welcome to the conversation. From what I hear, you have your hands in Bellevue politics pretty often. I’m surprised it took so long for you to chime in. Let’s get past your generalizations, and really get into the nitty gritty of your assumptions about this group and what its goals are. Why on Earth would anyone want a group of people with NO personal or political ambitions pushing the town forward? The majority on council claims exactly this right now, and look how far that’s gone for the betterment of the community. Personal agenda? How about the council president owning nearly $2M in residential rentals in Bellevue? Or the fact that someone, at some point in their life, knew a person, that knew a person that was an alcoholic; Therefore, they want to keep Bellevue dry? Or maybe the blatant evidence that things are getting voted down based on a few council members personal feelings towards the persons that proposed such changes? The corruption and puppetry happening within this borough is shocking (even to outsiders that have attended the meetings).

    I think the major issue here is that if new blood gets voted onto council, chances are all of the puppet strings will be cut. This will result in decisions being made based solely on taking the town forward, building up the business district, and trying to save this town from dollar stores, check cashing, furniture rental, RYO tobacco, and pawn shops. Let’s get real here…these are not the signs of a prosperous borough. I can personally only speak for myself when stating that Kathy Coder and myself have some differences as far as politics go, I still think that she wants to see the town prosper and move forward. This doesn’t mean that I’m her puppet, as you seem to be insinuating. No one is making decisions within LiB based on an agenda from a council person, as a matter of fact… NOT A SINGLE COUNCIL PERSON has requested anything from us, or vice versa. We’re basing our goals on the things in Bellevue that have failed for far too long. You can’t keep doing the same thing, and expect to see a different result, right?

    I’d like to know who or what prompted you to suddenly get involved? Was there something in this particular blog that struck a note with you?

  5. No one said anything about anyone being a crook. I also think she’s a great business woman, I give credit where credit is due. But let’s be honest, if you owned $2M in assets in a town, wouldn’t you do anything you could to protect that?
    I respect your dedication to this country, and I commend you on serving. I have tremendous respect for those that have served, are currently serving, and for those that have fallen. I have also lost friends as a result of war. With that said, using your “age” to try to validate your position, as if this makes you more credible to support people on a council that isn’t even in your town is a stretch. You would not be coming out of the wood work with your opinions and attempts to discredit us if we weren’t a threat to your agenda.

    I have posed this question many time before with ZERO responses from the people that you so outwardly support…Maybe you will be the first to answer it in an honest fashion?

  6. Mark,
    If you would like to meet with a few members of the core group of LiB, that can also be organized. If you’re trying to get a feel for what we stand for and the basics, you can see a blogs that have been composed by myself and other LiB members. If you’d still like to meet with us after reviewing these posts, please let us know.


  1. Agenda: Transparent vs. Hidden by Danina DiBattista « Liberty in Bellevue, PA - August 20, 2012

    […] (The rest of the blog can be read here: https://libertyinbellevue.com/2012/08/15/leadership-or-bullying-bellevues-future-is-in-the-balance-by…) […]

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