Special Council Meeting Video – 17 December 2012

Things got ugly last night at a special meeting of Bellevue Council as the current majority removed the seated solicitor in favor of an attorney with a personal relationship with one of our council members. This decision came after numerous questions were raised about its circumstances. One of the most telling portions of the evening occurred, when the otherwise quiet and docile Councilman Frank Camello unveiled a story in which Council President Linda Woshner attempted to sway his vote this past January. Mr. Camello’s story, which was told by both he and Councilman Mark Helbling, asserted that Ms. Woshner made numerous attempts to convince Mr. Camello to vote with her growing majority against the solicitor at that time as well because, “it was what Mark Purcell wants.” Mark Purcell, you might recall from previous posts on this blog, is a Ross Township native with a very long history of political corruption charges and ethics violations of his own, who has made a recent career of meddling in Bellevue politics in some form of vendetta against Councilwoman Kathy Coder and others who tended to vote with her. His name has come up numerous times within the council chambers over the past six months.

Even in the midst of charges of political corruption, questionable ethics, and, at the very least, hidden personal agendas, the current majority listened to nothing other than their own desires and voted as they agreed to vote previous to any formal discussion. The solicitor was fired from his position and the attorney who defended Jane Braunlich in Harrisburg in order to win her seat by tossing out the vote of a military member serving in Iraq at the time was hired.

We will unpack some of the things said in this video in the days to come. However, we strongly encourage all Bellevue voters to view this video and witness for themselves how their council is operating. Bellevue should be ashamed of what is happening in their council chambers. Bellevue deserves better and our chance to change the direction of our borough is coming. Feel free to comment below!

Below are some time stamps to help you navigate the recording.

0:15 – Pledge of Allegiance, Moment of Silence, Roll Call
IN ATTENDANCE: Jane Braunlich, Lynn Heffley, Jim Sciciani, Sue Viscusi, Jim Viscusi, Linda Woshner, Mark Helbling, Frank Camello, Kathy Coder (arrives a few minutes late), Mayor Doscher, Borough Manager Doug Sample, Solicitor McDermott.
1:22 – Public Comment: Lisa Anne Blaney & Randy Swackhammer
4:20 – Chair Committee Reports begin
4:50 – President Woshner suggests “skipping” chair reports.
4:55 – Resolutions (none)
4:56 – Ordinances (SEVEN of them!)
5:05 – #1 Bayne Park Rules, Regulations, and Hours for Skate Plaza (passes unanimously)
6:13 – #2 Parking Enforcement & free parking hours/days with discussion (passes unanimously)
15:22 – #3 Residential LERTA/tax abatement for residential rehab of blighted properties. (passes unanimously)
16:47 – #4 Second reading of the proposal for a Garbage Collection Fee Increase.
20:50 – #5 Second reading of Wage & Benefits for borough employees.
21:25 – #6 Second reading of Establishing & Regulating pensions for non-uniformed borough employees.
21:57 – #7 Second reading of the Firefighter Pension Plan

22:32 – OLD BUSINESS – THIS IS WHERE THINGS GET JUICY!!!
22:35 – Susan Viscusi motions to appoint Patricia McGrail as the new Bellevue solicitor for 2013.
Discussion continues for the remainder of the video. A lot of interesting input is given from many sides of the story. Mark Helbling and Frank Camello bring a lot of things to light about the path that has lead to the decision to replace the solicitor. Including pointing out that these attorneys all work by the hour (on top of their monthly retainer.) So to say that one is cheaper than the other is pretty circumstantial. If the borough requires a lot of hours of work one year and not the next year, the solicitors yearly cost would change. Frank explains that Linda & Mark Purcell (a washed up politician that resides in Ross Twp) has called Frank to tell him to vote a certain way for things, and when he didn’t do so, they basically never spoke with him again. Also mentioned during discussion was a VERY important detail…Jane Braunlich was represented by Patricia McGrail in a 2009 ballot dispute. McGrail represented Braunlich against active duty soldier Walter Daughenbaugh, whose ballot was lost in a poll workers vehicle during the election. His ONE VOTE would have caused Braunlich to lose her council seat to David Piet in the 2009 council elections. Ultimately, Braunlich & McGrail ultimately won the case and successfully managed to render Mr. Daughenbaugh’s vote null and void. Thus, she sits before us as a councilwoman of Bellevue.
54:32 – Councilwoman Jane Braunlich claims that anyone that tries to table the vote for a new solicitor is “trying to take her vote away”. [How ironic is that?!]
Discussion proceeds.
1:09:50 – Public Comment: Megan Swackhammer, Aaryn Hough, Randy Swackhammer, Tom Fodi, Solicitor Tom McDermot.
1:18:30 – Motion to Adjourn

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15 Responses to “Special Council Meeting Video – 17 December 2012”

  1. I stand by my comment before the meeting. Someone from McGrail’s office staff in 2010 at the ALOM Conference said she was promised the position of solicitor if she represented Jane Braunlich in taking the Council seat by throwing out a military man’s valid vote. I contacted a council member immediately after I had this conversation to tell what I heard. I never thought this would have come to this type of complete and utter cover up. I have no reason to lie about what was said to me. I just had serious surgery and am not in any type of shape to be out and coming to a council meeting. I did what I felt was right. I did what I thought the people of Bellevue and my council had a right to know. It is worth investigating. If this is legitimate than there should be no problem opening this attorney’s books to see if there was a payment made for these services. This woman’s connection to Jane should have been disclosed when she applied for the position. As for the $17,000 saved McDermott had a retainer, this new attorney has no retainer. If you watch this video and really watch this video you can see the scandal unroll right before your eyes. We are losing valuable talent in Bellevue due to this corruption. Jane Braunlich has no education and no work experience. Is she the most qualified person to be making these types of decisions for Bellevue? It isn’t too late to take a new vote on this and table this until an investigation has been done. I feel Lynn Heffley has been mislead and needs to take a step back and reconsider her vote. I think she is much smarter than the way she voted last night. Bellevue is going to suffer from this loss of talent. We are now losing a Business Manager.

    • Lisa, thank you for taking the initiative to come out and say what you did about the solicitor situation. I’m not sure it comes across clear enough that you literally just had surgery a week ago. It clearly took an immense amount of drive and strength to come before the council last night and share your story. And to see the council merely dismiss you as if your comments meant nothing revealed so much about them. Thank you again for taking the time and expending the energy to do what you did.

  2. “What a shame when you don’t get your way anymore” ??

    Really?

  3. The corruption is evident and disgusting. If there is nothing to hide, then prove it.
    This shows what is inherently wrong with politics. It starts in the small borough of Bellevue and goes all the way to the top. It’s all about what I can get. The above poster quoted the council president perfectly when she said, “What a shame when you don’t get your way anymore.” That is what this is all about. It’s childish and it’s sad.

    • The phrase sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it? I actually haven’t had the time to watch the whole thing, but that phrase really stuck out in my mind. I think I learned in middle school…at the latest…that you don’t always get your way. When “your way” goes against what is right, something is wrong.

  4. The corruption is evident and disgusting. Saying there is no financial gain is a cop-out because there was personal gain. If there is nothing to hide, why not prove it? The borough is owed that it doesn’t vote in corrupt officials, right?
    Leigh quoted the council president correctly, “What a shame when you don’t get your way anymore.” Isn’t that what this whole argument was about? Congratulations, you got your way. Hopefully right out the door.

  5. Something that I think was not stressed enough is the relationship that Jane and the new solicitor, Patricia McGrail have. Regardless of whether Jane paid her or not, it needs to be put on the front burner that this attorney worked diligently to make an active soldiers vote null and void. That soldiers vote was lost in a poll workers car. Jane technically LOST her council seat by ONE VOTE. If it weren’t for the help of the solicitor she’s fighting so hard for, she would not have her current council seat today. So to say that she has nothing to gain from Patricia McGrail being hired as Bellevue’s new solicitor is not accurate…Jane has already gained a lot from her, including her current seat on council. And to add a personal note: If it weren’t for soldiers like Walter Daughenbaugh fighting for our country, undereducated, underhanded, and unqualified people like Jane wouldn’t not have the freedoms to even run for council and make blind decisions that effect the direction of an ENTIRE town. How does a town like Bellevue, full of so many active and retired military folks support such a person? It makes me sick to my stomach that someone would care MORE about having a position of power on a council than to honor a vote from a soldier that was fighting for your rights overseas. If you’d like to jump to minute marker 54:30 in the video above, you will hear Jane’s outburst that the people that are in support of tabling the solicitor discussion until the Ethics Committee reviews the situation is their attempt to “TAKE HER VOTE AWAY!”. Is that not what she did when she fought to THROW A SOLDIERS VOTE AWAY IN 2009?! Oh the difference ONE vote makes, right Jane? It’s proven time and time again that ONE VOTE really does make a big difference!

    You can read about the Jane Braunlich/Walter Daughenbaugh ballot dispute here:
    http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/election/s_663685.html#axzz2FROFx5wz

  6. When the Mayor suggested Jane consider recusal during the vote for Solicitor she actually had the gall to complain about people trying to take her vote away. Jane, I did know that irony was part of your tool kit.

  7. It seems really strange to me that someone that helped the town bring in an additional $400,000 would be so eagerly be dismissed because of financial reasons. I can understand that $17,000 is a lot of money for a small town, but isn’t the $400,000 in additional revenue showing that he basically paid for himself and covered this? It seems like there is a desire to make change for change sake, politic reasons, or because of still being upset about something that happened in the past. Pretty sad. Really though, $17,000 is not that much money…I regularly get $25,000+ grants for worthwhile causes and for programs that have proven impact or that make a difference in a community. Maybe the council should focus more time on new initiatives, grant opportunities, or building the business district of the town to create $17,000++++ in revenue vs bickering over a question and unproven solicitor vs someone that has proven themselves. More shocking to me in watching this (the first time I have ever watched one of these videos by the way) was the attempt to squash any conversation on the topic and flippant dismissal of ethics violations.

  8. After being a part of this meeting last night and then watching it again–what strikes me is how there is always a reference to us and them. I thought it was “us” and “we”. As I stated last night…this is not financial. It is all about “mean girls” in high school who got their egos bruised 4 years ago when there was a re-organization and they were removed from their President and VP seats. Unfortunately for me and everyone associated with me, we have been the brunt of their bitterness, vindictiveness and vendettas. More sadly the town of Bellevue is the one suffering. I really thought when I decided not to run again for President and let Linda have her seat back she could move on and we could work together. On the contrary, this whole year has been nothing but trying to re-do all the good we accomplished to prove a point-Are we here to make a point or make a difference? I believe the truth that a house divided will never stand.

    • Cathy, it was painfully obvious this is what it was. Plain and simple. Hopefully, things will change for the future but it doesn’t look good. I was cheering from my computer when you made a point at the end there. Bravo and keep fighting.

  9. Suzanne MacGuineas Reply December 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Is it possible that the new solicitor will not be generously donating her time and efforts as the current solicitor has done and will instead be billing the town for those extra hours, effectively wiping out any potential savings?

    Is it possible to petition the residents of Bellevue to overturn this motion ?

  10. Wow….. I can’t even put into words any reponse to this whole video, except as Linda would say so eliquently say, this is a bunch of “Crap”! (Lovely words from a council president). What a shame you sad, little people.

  11. A huge thank you to the people who stood up and spoke last night about the things they have heard/experienced. Lisa and Frank, thank you for standing up to the corruption that is on our council and exposing it to those of us who can vote these people out on the coming years.

  12. I have lived in Bellevue for only 6 years but have been a resident of the boros for 25 years. I have been watching and listening to the trails of this political disgrace we have here in Bellevue. Honestly it is embarrassing to be in the ward which voted our council President into office not once but several times. After watching this video (which is my first as well as I am new to this blog) I am also assured that there is more going on then money. However I think we need to look more into the strings that are attached to our puppet, I mean president and ask why are so many outside forces at work.
    I had high hopes in the past when we had new fresh faces running and was hoping the good old girls would be gone and we could start to see real change in our communities. I pray that this will still come to be, as a homeowner and a parent. We need more education for our community so that they are aware of the choices and the truth before they vote in the next election.
    Kathy Coder, keep on “grandstanding” because you have proven your commitment to the community in trying to move us forward, you have my vote always!

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