Dear LiB: Bellevue Council’s Reactionary Leadership A Running Theme


Dear LiB,

A few weeks ago I submitted a Dear LiB letter in which I challenged Bellevue Council Members to move beyond short sighted, reactionary leadership and begin leading with a long term perspective of community growth and development. Well, it appears we need to return to this very same issue once again.

The headlining article of last week’s The Citizen was a short piece concerning Councilwoman Linda Woshner’s proposal that the borough again spend tax dollars they keep claiming we don’t have, on yet another band aid to fix a symptom of a larger, systemic problem in our community.

There’s litter along Lincoln Avenue. No one can deny that. As a tax payer, home and business owner, and council candidate, I find the litter both unattractive and frustrating. However, what I find even more frustrating is Bellevue Council’s seeming ineptitude to properly address the systemic problem behind it. Bellevue has no vision for attracting and encouraging the kind of investment in our community that would organically and naturally deal with litter and other symptoms common in stagnant and declining communities. Instead of reacting to the blight of our business district with expensive new machines to give the appearance that they’re doing all they can, Bellevue Council should be bending over backwards to bring in the sort of business owners who will take enough pride in what they’ve built to clean up their own portion of the sidewalk. The next time you patronize our community’s myriad of small businesses, look around the sidewalk. Compare what you see in front of stores like Happy Baby Company, Dietz Floral, Muddy Cup, Good L’Oven Bakery, Fodi Jewelers, The Pitt Stop, Bellevue Business Center and others with what you see in front of the pawn shop, dollar store, the discount cell phone and electronic stores, or the numerous vacant store fronts. It shouldn’t take long to see what I mean.

The long term, visionary solution to the litter along Lincoln Avenue is NOT to purchase some fancy contraption that will inevitably require repairs and upgrades (not to mention training to operate). The solution to the litter is the same solution for all the symptoms of our stagnate community: a vision and incentives to attract the growing number of investors and business owners just begging for opportunity to take pride in what they create (not to mention, our community).

How about temporary tax abatements/exemptions to reduce the capital necessary to launch fresh start ups? How about matching investments for facade and ADA Accessibility upgrades? How about personal income tax deductions for every resident based upon properly documented purchases in local businesses?

In the meantime, while we wait for Bellevue Council to pursue this sort of visionary style leadership, might I suggest we consider using the only sort of technology anyone’s ever needed to clean up litter throughout history: the flexibility to bend at our hips and the use of our opposable thumbs to grip items laying on the ground! Instead of paying DPW employees to learn how to use some new kind of equipment, why not ask them to use the God-given equipment they already have??

Just a thought…

Tom Fodi
Candidate for Bellevue Council in the Third Ward


21 Responses to “Dear LiB: Bellevue Council’s Reactionary Leadership A Running Theme”

  1. I don’t think the borough should be cleaning the sidewalks. I feel it’s up to the store to take care of their property.

  2. You raise some excellent points here, Tom. I work for the top real estate lawyer in Pittsburgh at one of the largest law firms in the world and I can tell you, not only has Bellevue completely missed the development boat, it isn’t even on anyone’s radar for anything. I’ve owned a home in Bellevue for about 20 years and have lived in the North Boros since 1976. As far as my property is concerned, I have spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours on improvements. Any increase in value has been the sole result of my efforts as the Borough has done absolutely nothing to help me or other property owners protect their biggest investment. Council has done nothing towards economic development and the result has been what Sam Battaglia aptly described as a “ghetto;” low income, classless and careless renters who can barely see into next week let alone the future of the community. Lincoln Ave is just the obvious and commercial end product of overall apathy, inaction and lack of any good sense economic impetus. Finally, I think that Council is too big for too little real estate. Members should be cut in half and everyone currently serving should not seek reelection as they have failed at their jobs and failed the community.

    • Thanks Bob! You are spot on with your assessment. Hoping we can change that in the weeks/months to come.

  3. Tom Fodi is about as credible as the editor of the citizen. Everything i see written by him is nothing but self serving non sense used as a tool to give him some sort of hopeful credibility that he he desperately seeks. As a citizen and current council member i take offense that someone who wants to represent our community would go out of their way to manipulate the people who he hopes will vote for him. Maybe you could add the actual cost of the piece of equipment that will be used to keep the sidewalks clean? Maybe you could have addressed that there is no new fancy machine being purchased, just an attachment for a current machine that will make it easier to clean the sidewalks? Maybe you could comment on the fact that the borough has tried to get the businesses/property owners to keep their sidewalks clean? Maybe you intentionally leave out those facts to make yourself feel better about your lack of credentials in hopes of convincing some of the uniformed that you actually have something to offer other than hot air.

    I’m sure most tax paying homeowners in Bellevue would all agree we want our Borough to spend our tax dollars in a fiscally conservative way while doing everything we can to make sure the future of our community is better than its present. I truly believe the majority of our community is made up of hardworking caring people with a vested interest in seeing Bellevue prosper, unfortunately the less desirable element often makes those people less inclined to put themselves out there. We have the policies/ordinances in place to start weeding out the undesirables but that is not something that happens overnight. In the meantime allowing parts of our main street to look like an ash tray/litter box in hopes of a “Tom Fodi” solution just doesn’t make sense. We need to be proactive, if we have the equipment and manpower to take those steps by all means why not?

    As a current 2nd ward councilman, concerned citizen, tax payer, homeowner, and father of children that attend Northgate schools i would love to find other like minded people, without a personal agenda, to work with outside the borough hall to come up with grass root solutions to cleaning up our Borough. Anyone who wishes to reach out to me with concerns or suggestions please feel free to email me at

    In summary my retort to the latest conjecture being spewed by Tom Fodi, as well as Connie Rankin, would be the following idiom, “Empty vessels indeed make the most noise.”

    Please don’t let others mislead you, research what matters to you and reach out to those who may have actual fact based answers.

    Matt Senvisky
    2nd Ward Councilman

    • Hey Matt, Tom Fodi here. I appreciate your response, but ask you to tell me where I’m wrong. I’ve heard in the past three meetings I’ve attended four separate individuals say without reservation, “Bellevue is running out of money. We need to increase taxes and/or parking rates.”

      Sorry brother, but the more you increase taxes to spend up to $2,500 on this machine or that machine to put band-aids on systemic problems in any given organization (or community in this instance), the less likely you are to see these problems resolved. That’s simply organizational leadership 101.

      To put it in the most simple of terms, you cannot use a band aid to cure cancer.

      There’s a cancer in our community and it’s called stagnation and economic recession. I have yet to hear you once speak up about a community-wide vision or strategic plan for growth and prosperity. If we are going to move Bellevue forward at all and get us out of this slump we’ve been in since the late 90’s, we need to start from scratch with a renewed vision for growth.

      I find it fascinating you said nothing about my proposals towards that end. Are you not concerned with increasing economic development in Bellevue? When was the last time anyone on this council explored personal income tax credits for dollars spent in Bellevue’s business district? Or capital investment matches for facade/ADA improvements? Or tax abatements/exemptions for new start ups along Lincoln Aven?

      Do you know where these ideas came from?

      They come from years of proven examples from communities in our region who are seeing growth and prosperity. I’m not even an elected official, yet I’m actively involved in exploring ideas for holistic community growth. I haven’t seen you at the last meeting of A Better Bellevue or BIGr or Improve the Vue event. I attend pretty much every one.

      The next time you decide to call someone self serving, please look around at your own community and see what people are doing without recognition. I’ve faithfully and namelessly served this community since before I was a teenager. My father and his father before faithfully and selflessly served Bellevue throughout their lives as well.

      Comparatively, many of us didn’t even know who you were until you decided to become a politician yourself.

      And, just for the record, I wasn’t even interested in putting my name on the ballot this year but a few colleagues and respected neighbors convinced me to do it when they chose not to run and were worried there wouldn’t be a candidate for the office. I am happy running my many businesses and pastoring my church. I don’t need to be lectured by folks like you with little idea what it takes to actually move an organization forward. But, I’ll do it. I’ll take it. Because I love my community too much.

      See you in Council next year.

      Tom Fodi

  4. Tom, I personally believe that spending taxpayer money on another street sweeping device or an attachment is a waste of resources, both in money and personnel. The boro should require the business owners to keep the sidewalks tidy. Create and pass an ordinance and if the business owners don’t clean the sidewalks, fine them. Also, the boro should ban smoking on Lincoln Avenue. If you walk from Kuhns up to Balph on Lincoln you will see that, conservatively, eighty percent of the litter is tobacco related. Fine a few people for cigarette littering and the problem will stop. People pick up their dog droppings so they can certainly pocket or put into trash containers cigarette butts. And make the fines hurt. No stinkin’ five dollar fines that just annoy people. Reassign a cop or two in street clothes a day or two a week to issue citations instead of harrassing the citizens with overtime parking tickets. And off the subject but defined pensions are a thing of the past and those pensions should be eliminated for boro employees.

    • Bill, you’re right. It’s a huge waste and especially when they keep threatening us with tax/fee increases! If we were swimming in the dough, perhaps we could explore the option, but we’re not. And we’re already taxed more than almost every other municipality in Allegheny County!!! Thanks for the comment.

  5. Mr. Senvisky, just what are the credentials you possess that qualify you to manage a public entity? I did not see one new idea in your recent post. Just because you live in a community and have kids in community schools does not qualify you to manage the boro any more than having a beer qualifies you to be a bartender.

  6. For council: The parking meters should go. The fines are so minimal that they are nothing more than an annoyance to residents and non residents alike. They are expensive to own, operate and police. Sell the meters and allow two hour free parking. And the meters push people to the malls or other venues where parking is free. The scant resources from the meters is lost in tax revenue from people going elsewhere.

  7. Can’t we put shared services back on the ballot just like the liquor. If we combine with Avalon, like our school, we could all save money. One of everything. Police, Fire, Council. Oh and just a question. Is it true we would only get one liquor license based on the number of people in our town?

  8. in the article in the Citizen all this fancy equipment was mentioned but never once did I see installation of a garbage can at the new bus stop Hmmm; its a start! As a matter of fact; my parents have complained because a telephone pole garbage can was removed from the end of their street on Orchard and Balph.. Hence, leading to garbage on the frowns. Public works is responsible for garbage and litter.. So; let’s buy some hefty bags and teach them how to bend over and pick it up. My grandmother Rose Heflin was the mayor here for many years and God rest her soul; cause I know she’s not happy in heaven with the lack of motivation from Bellevue Council!

  9. Kathy, public works may be responsible for garbage and litter but it is the image of the town that has been created by leadership of this boro for many years that is the problem. Many people do not see the boro as anything to be proud of or anything worth trying to make better. Hence, they litter and put trash and garbage on the curb six days before pickup. If people have pride in the community they won’t trash it up. People can put their trash in their purses or pockets until they get somewhere to dispose of it. Pole garbage cans are a blight in my opinion.

  10. Cathy, liquor licenses are allotted to counties based on population. Anyone that owns a liquor license for Allegheny County can bring it to Bellevue. I guess council grants some kind of permit to license holders.

  11. Re: Litter on Lincoln Ave., here are some facts people may not know:

    1. Matt Senvisky is incorrect that the borough is simply buying an attachment for an old machine. The borough is buying a NEW billy goat that has a special attachment that will help maintain the landscaped bump-out areas. The whole thing is costing no more than $2,500.This is the exact information given to me by officials at the last council meeting.

    2. Decades ago, Bellevue became one of the only boroughs in the area to levy a mercantile tax. State law now prohibits that tax from being levied, but Bellevue was grandfathered in when the law changed. In exchange for the mercantile tax levied on retail sales by Bellevue businesses, the borough promised to use the proceeds to purchase and operate the billy goat in the business district. So, in a way, Bellevue businesses are paying to clean up their sidewalks.

    3. The police department has stationed plainclothes officers on Lincoln Ave. and they have issued citations for littering.

  12. Why am I not reading about the littering pinches in the Citizen? As well as fining the litterers they need to be named in the local newspaper just like public drunks and shoplifters. A simple major solution to most littering is banning smoking on Lincoln Avenue.

  13. They have been published as part of the police news and featured on the front page of our final issue of 2014

  14. That’s it? The final issue of 2014! Littering citations should be pursued by the police and violations published as part of the police news every week. Do the police pursue certain violations of public safety and order only during certain periods and then just stop? That only shows it doesn’t bother officials that the borough looks like a pig sty and it also shows the borough is not serious about correcting the problem. Litterers should be cited until it hurts so people start putting their trash in their pockets, purses or trash cans. Or maybe it’s just easier when borough officials can get someone to sneak up to your car when you’re not in it and put a ticket on your wind shield.

  15. Anyone know anything about putting combining our 2 communities back on the ballot? What happened last time? And when can we do it again? Does anyone think this is a good idea? Thank you

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