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?!]
1:09:50 – Public Comment: Megan Swackhammer, Aaryn Hough, Randy Swackhammer, Tom Fodi, Solicitor Tom McDermot.
1:18:30 – Motion to Adjourn