The Epic Tree Fiasco of 2012, Bellevue Council at it’s Finest

Last night, Tuesday, September 4 2012, was a night many of us involved in the LiB Movement will not soon forget. After months of being told that Bellevue Borough is running out of money, after being told numerous times that the borough couldn’t even fund a police officer for our local schools or even fresh pavement for our roads, we were utterly shocked to find numerous members of our council willing to spend $3000 of tax payer money on an unnecessary project that could have been done for free (yes, literally free!!!). For roughly two and a half hours, certain members of this council (namely Jane Braunlich, Linda Woshner, and Jim Viscusi) argued for the absolute necessity that 20 trees be purchased from a certain landscaping company to be planted in a park not located in the borough of Bellevue (admittedly, it is a park owned by the borough but it is geographically separated from the borough). Even after being offered three alternative quotes that reduced the cost of the trees by 20%, 25%, even 100%, Ms. Braunlich, Ms. Woshner, and Mr. Viscusi argued that purchasing the trees from the Steel City Landscaping company was the only option they would accept.

We should be sure to mention that a certain individual by the name of Mark Purcell lives on the street where these trees are slated to be planted. We should also be sure to mention that the company which these members of council were dead set on hiring for the purchase and installation of these trees is owned by Mark Purcell’s son. If you do not know Mark Purcell, we suggest you Google his name and flip through the archives of this page dating back a couple of weeks. Could it be that Mark Purcell, a known mud slinging political activist who has openly stated on this very blog that he would “do anything to ensure his friends get elected,” is getting his back scratched a bit from this decision?

Why else would Jane Braunlich, Linda Woshner, and Jim Viscusi not even entertain quotes from companies that were cheaper than the Purcell quote?

Why else would they choose not to pursue an abundance of free trees for the borough they claim to serve?

For this issue to erupt merely two months after Linda Woshner’s witch hunt through the borough’s cell phone plan under the guise of saving the borough $30-40/month, we cannot help but wonder where this council’s allegiance lies – with the borough they claim to serve or those with the influence and promise of getting them re-elected?

Watch the video posted below and judge for yourself. Watch as these council members desperately seek any justification they can to get the necessary votes to support this outrageous decision. Unfortunately, because we filmed this debacle on a couple of cell phones the footage is not perfect, but it definitely gets the point across. This is your council Bellevue. Tell us what you think…

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7 Responses to “The Epic Tree Fiasco of 2012, Bellevue Council at it’s Finest”

  1. It is always about following the money trail. Why would certain members of council be so insistent on this subject matter and maybe just to satisfy its constituents, open up a proper bidding protocol with public scrutiny. Early in the video Linda Woshner mentions that the trees are being put in “at cost”, almost insinuating that it is being done as a favor. The question of the more than the three thousand dollars here is a symbol of government doing what is best for a very select few over the what is best for the borough as a whole. Doesn’t this thinking permeate previous issues and has led to the stagnation of Bellevue these many years? It is obvious to this outsider that despite its higher property and local wage taxes that the Bellevue council is more concerned with repeating history instead of creating new direction. Ross and West View suffer from the same cronyism at times, but at least in Ross, you have a retail sector to somewhat balance the cronyism. Bellevue doesn’t have that luxury and the tax base itself pays dearly for it.

  2. There are a few things that I wanted to mention about this video and our councils actions.
    Many people, including members of the public and members of LiB have asked council on numerous occasions to use their microphones. The microphones and the PA system was installed with tax payer dollars and many of them refuse to use them. As you can notice, many microphones are pushed aside and you can barely hear what these people are saying. I’m sure they may forget, but I’m also sure that they want to make it difficult for us to record the meetings as well. Perhaps it should be incorporated into the opening statements by the Council President to remind council members to turn on their mics and speak INTO the microphone.

    This tree fiasco gets down to the nitty gritty as to why a certain town commissioner from Ross Township publicly bursted onto the LiB scene and the Bellevue scene a few weeks ago. If you’re reading this and aren’t sure what I’m talking about, I will gladly post links for you to see. His family owns the landscaping company that is apparently selling the trees at “cost” to the borough for $99 per tree. He also lives directly across from the the lot that the trees are to be planted. As you can hear (hopefully) on the video, our Borough Manager states that they received 5 bids on the trees, and two of them came below the $99 cost. One was $75 and one was $86 (before applying a bulk sale discount). Council President Linda Woshner stated her concern that the trees from Treevitalize would not be of the same quality and grade that Steel City Landscaping was providing. The Borough Manager seemed to quickly clear things up about that, stating that they would be of the same quality, and would likely be a little larger than the ones from Steel City Landscaping.

    These council members fought long and hard to spend money on trees that we could possibly get for FREE through TreeVitalize. People don’t fight that hard for something (especially something that costs money), unless there’s someone or something that is going to benefit from it. I don’t see the logic of fighting that hard to spend money when it could be free. I just don’t. Our borough treasurer stated 3 weeks ago that our budget is really tight, and that any unnecessary spending should not be done so close to the end of the fiscal year. You would think that the council would take that information and conclude that applying for the TreeVitalize program is the best bet for the cinder lot AND for our financial situation at this time. Instead of jumping the gun, spending $2K-$3K to have trees planted in the fall, we could save tax payer money and shoot for the free trees that would be planted in Spring. I think that saving the money would have been well worth the wait. What do you think?

  3. I have never seen, nor heard such a Mickey Mouse (sorry Mickey) fiasco over such, what SHOULD be, a minor issue/detail. Trees are trees…..you stick them in the ground and they grow. I have watched, helped and tended to trees being planted in both the fall AND THE SPRING/SUMMER…..and to this day, they have grown heartier and stronger every passing day. So the issue with “needing them purchased and planted NOW so to allow the root bases to develop” is nothing but a scam, lie, sales (kick back) tactic for someone(s). Oh yeah,…I forgot favor to a family member/friend.
    And next, I need to ask these questions. When YOU, Mrs Woshner, Braunlich, Viscusi, etc., go shopping at the grocery store, do you NOT utilize coupons? Look for BOGO’s? And do you not try to earn your fuel perks, thus allowing you to save on gas for your vehicle? Or maybe EVEN GET IT FOR FREE?
    Don’t be ashamed to admit that you like good deals. Don’t be afraid to admit you like the gimme’s. Don’t be dishonest and just admit YOU LIKE TO SPEND OTHER PEOPLES MONEY. Cause, technically, what a lot of you are trying to do in regards to these darned trees, is just that…..spending the tax payers money where it DOESN’T NEED TO BE SPENT at this time, IF AT ALL.
    Free is free……why spend if…..A) you don’t need to at this time and…..B) the budget is at the slim pickins mark for this year….and…C) you can get the trees for FREE?
    I pray, that should you folks in favor of spending money, when not necessary, get your way, that Bellevue doesn’t get hammered with a serious blizzard early this year or something just as serious…..cause if you do get your way (spending unnecessary funds)…..I want to be the first in line to hear your excuse for NOT BEING ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF AN EMERGENCY in the Borough of Bellevue.

  4. That’s right Mark, make a few more absurd, insulting comments. Great move right after we’ve uncovered serious corruption with your signature all over it.

  5. Hi Mr. Purcell,

    I got your Facebook friend request under your Bellevue Lincoln pseudonym. No, thanks. We’re not friends in real life and I only associate myself with authentic individuals. Not senior adults who resort to cheap smear tactics while hiding behind cowardly fake profiles.

  6. Mark Purcell said “Have you people ever considered counseling? I would give it some serious consideration if I were you. Hate and suspicion are a disease that will cause you serious physical harm over the long run. If not therapy, you might want to go to your pastor and try to find some peace.”

    REALLY, this is his answer. There is more hate and vile vindictiveness in that statement than what anyone else has said here. Who needs counseling???? as I think he needs to layoff religious references as well. I guess the word “transparency” is not part of Mr. Purcell’s vocabulary. No one is their right mind would think not to question something so obvious as his relationship to the decision making process within the Bellevue borough council.

    The problem isn’t just him and his meddling in a community he does not belong to, but rather a problem throughout Allegheny county. There are just too many municipalities where this type of cronyism exists. The way we are set up, makes it easier for people like Mr. Purcell to have undue influence and harder on the common everyday people who have to live with the decisions made by compromised officials. Transparency unfortunately becomes the casualty of the process. It also upsets their little pristine gatherings when watchdog groups like “Liberty Bellevue” start to monitor their activities. I am not surprised by the way both Bellevue council and Mr. Purcell have reacted, because in a way they are one and the same. It is part of an overall problem that needs to be addressed and that is getting rid of this archaic system of municipalities here in Allegheny county and create a system that benefits the common everyone and eliminates the overlapping of services and creates high degrees of transparency that can be easily seen by all.

    I say to Liberty Bellevue and any other watchdog groups that if you are irritating and causing adverse reaction from people involved then you are starting the process of change. Mr. Purcell’s inane comments are the greatest example of this and why you must continue your fight.

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