Dear LiB: Tell Me Why We’re Doing This Again?



Dear LiB:

It is a shame that someone who isn’t yet elected to serve the people of Bellevue must remind those who are of their role and authority. During the Regular Meeting of Bellevue Council in June, Councilwoman Heffley stated that she, the mayor, and the chief of police decided to, among other things, reduce the hours in which the public would have access to Bayne Park. She stated that the chief had the authority to remove people in the park past their privately decided new hours. I wrote a letter concerning this issue two weeks ago and Ms Heffley responded by reiterating her position by writing, “The chief has the authority to take such action and I wholeheartedly support his decisions.”

At this week’s Bellevue Pre-Council meeting I confronted council for not correcting this usurpation of authority as it effectively broke the law. The reason the decision Ms Heffley spoke of is illegal is due to the restraints and procedures put into place by Bellevue’s Home Rule Charter. As with most rules and procedures in Bellevue, park hours are determined by ordinance. In order to amend an ordinance the following sections of the Home Rule Charter apply.

Article 3-306: All councilmanic authority shall be asserted by the councilmanic body only. No individual councilman shall have any authority whatsoever under this Charter.

Article 4-407: Official actions of the Council must be taken by enactment of an ordinance, of a resolution, or by motion. All ordinances and resolutions must be in written form.

In other words, barring an emergency situation, no member of council, nor the mayor or chief of police, have the authority to change Bellevue’s park hours without going through the legally binding process of amending the necessary ordinance (a process which must include three public readings and a vote of the entire council).

I want to be perfectly clear. This letter shouldn’t be read as a challenge to Councilwoman Heffley alone. This letter should be read as a challenge to every current member of Bellevue Council to learn our system of government and follow it in all of its proceedings. Additionally, this letter should give all Bellevue residents cause for concern. If this ordinance was unilaterally amended by an offline, non-public decision of one, two, or three people, what other ordinances might have been enacted or amended in a similarly illegal and unethical fashion?

Before concluding this letter, I want to also reiterate my initial reason for writing my original letter two weeks ago. Not only should Bellevue Council educate itself on how it enacts new laws and restrictions on its residents. Bellevue Council needs to think long and hard about why it might enact such laws and restrictions. For instance, if the goal of writing new rules and restrictions for Bellevue parks is to keep them safe and enjoyable spaces for all, I challenge the members of council to consider how their actions will likely have the opposite effect. No one other than criminals and undesirables benefit when the use of public facilities and parks are restricted for law abiding citizens. Criminals and other unsavory actors prey on environments that are secluded and unpopulated.

nodogsIf the desire is to create an environment where families and residents can have fun and feel safe while utilizing our parks, we shouldn’t be restricting access, rather we should be encouraging access. Bellevue Council should be seeking ways to encourage residents, families, and other “desirable people” to utilize the parks for which their tax dollars pay. Instead of telling the thousands of families and individuals who regularly walk their dogs around our parks they’re not welcome, we should be rescinding the dog ban immediately. Instead of telling families with a parent or guardian who smokes to have fun some place else, we should be drafting guidelines which protect those who may be bothered by such substances, but not banning them entirely. Instead of forbidding the elderly couple seeking relief from the heat of the sun from utilizing an otherwise vacant gazebo behind Bayne Library, we should be featuring the space as a welcome and inviting free location for outdoor activities which can also be reserved for larger, private functions.

Bellevue deserves better than what it’s getting from its current council. I challenge Bellevue residents to get involved and contact their council members and hold them accountable to the job they were elected to do.

Tom Fodi
Democrat/Republican Nominee for Bellevue Council


22 Responses to “Dear LiB: Tell Me Why We’re Doing This Again?”

  1. If you want to talk safety, try walking up the steps to the library. The railings on both sides are not anchored and very wobbly. If a person who has trouble with steps and relies on the railings for support, puts some weight on the railings, they are going to come loose and possibly cause injury to the person.

  2. Great post, and undoubtedlya much needed reminder to elected officials on following the law. You have my full support on this issue.

    Best, Fritz Fekete 38 S Bryant Ave Bellevue

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Sounds like the chief and these Council folks think they’re above the law. They ought to ship off to North Korea if they want to play tin-pot dictator.

  4. Knee jerk reactions are always detrimental to reasonably solving problems. Someone in authority always feel that something, anything, must be done whenever a problem arises. That’s how we end up with the idiotic nonsense known as zero tolerance policy. Much of this nonsense was predicated by the recent shooting incident in the park. The appropriate action of the knee jerk crowd to the event, if they were sincere about correcting the problem, would be to ban teenage males from the park.

  5. I didn’t realize that Liberty in Bellevue is a political blog. Although Mr. Fodi is accurate in some of his statements (the mayor was not part of the decision to change the park hours.), I believe that some of his opinions are politically motivated. I deduced this by the way he signed his article.

    • oh, c-mon Paul. You didn’t seem to mind the political nature of LiB when we railed against Jane during your campaign against her. Now that you’re an elected official, and someone is running who seeks to challenge others, including yourself from time to time, you get defensive. Lynn Heffley specifically mentioned you and the chief of police as part of the conversation last night. So, is she lying?

  6. I’m thinking a Park-A-Thon should be organized to raise awareness of the dual issues of park safety and Council malfeasance. Could also be a library fundraiser on the side… with grilling.

  7. I was not at the meeting in which that was decided.I don’t remember her mentioning that the mayor was there. I do remember you saying it. It was recorded if you wish to check.
    I never used the LIB site to promote myself. That would be self serving.

    • she mentioned the mayor and the chief in both June’s Regular Council Meeting and last night’s pre-council meeting. For the record, I’m not challenging you here. I’m challenging council to realize that it is inappropriate for any of the individual members to act outside of their authority and dictate an amendment to an ordinance. Additionally, I’m challenging them to stand up for the proper procedure whenever they sense someone is acting out of line or unethically. Something we sorely need right now.

      When you ran you had plenty of comments and shares of LiB articles on your website. I can pull those up if you’d like. We have the archive.

  8. I posted other peoples posts. If you check, I never posted any posts by candidates who talked about themselves or used the LIB site for their campaign. Recently, you posted a few articles and I posted only the ones in which you did not mention your candidacy.

    • fair enough. As one of the many administrators of this website, I see no problem using the medium to express my views and opinions. Much like “letters to the editor” of any major publication, it is an available resource for any candidate or any person to express their thoughts. We have had other candidates and residents utilize the resource as we now reach 600-1000 individuals per post on average. I’m not going to limit the reach my campaign simply because I was one of the original founders of Liberty in Bellevue.

      Please be sure to note that when Dear LiB letters are published they always include the name and role of the individual writing them. This is standard practice for any “letters to the editor” in any major publication. An article LiB publishes as an organization do not include those items because those articles tend to be written, edited, and published by numerous individuals.

      For the record, this same letter was sent in to The Citizen as well.

  9. I just felt that it was unseemly for an administrator to use the site for self promotion. it denigrates the value of the independent perspective that the LIB site purported to be.

    • Paul, if you have a letter to share, we will gladly publish it. We do not censor anyone nor encourage only certain people to submit an article to us. Tom is passionate about writing Dear LiB letters and very active in our community. Just because he happens to be part of the organization means nothing. All voices are welcome to be heard.

  10. At least this site allows all articles to be published, not just the ones that are self serving like The Citizen. If you write a letter to the editor of The Citizen and they do not agree with your thoughts, they just don’t publish it. Total censorship bull.

    • You of all people calling the kettle black?
      Self serving (you were and are) when you speak of liquor in Bellevue when your family owned a restaurant in Bellevue!
      Do you have proof that letters don’t get published in the Bellevue newspaper? I don’t beleive you maam.

      • Lori DiBattista July 23, 2015 at 10:21 pm

        If you want to speak of accountability, why don’t you start by at least posting under your name! I don’t need to prove my point to you or any one else. And how am I self serving? You make no sense.

    • The Citizen publishes all letters that meet its policy, which is published in the paper each week. In 40 years of publishing, there has never been a letter rejected because someone on staff didn’t agree with the views expressed.

  11. I enjoy Tom’s articles, and regardless of his political aspirations; he happens to be right! Bellevue Council needs to be held accountable, which I’m sure is uncomfortable, but it’s necessary!

  12. Although Mr Fodi was technically correct in his assertion that the changes to the rules for the park must be made by a change in the ordinance by council, I think that a little reflection is needed. Ms Hefley, the DAS, the Library Director and the Police Chief met quickly after a shooting in the park to assess the situation and find ways to show the borough residents that something is being done to ensure the safety of those who visit the park. According to one of the attendees, some interim changes were proposed with the intent of working on the ordinance to make the needed changes legal and permanent. It takes months to study, discuss, determine and vote to properly change an ordinance of this magnitude. I commend them for reacting to a critical situation with reasonable suggestions. I believe that Mr Fodi, should he be elected, would react similarly. He will also probably be similarly criticized.

    • We have every confidence that Mr Fodi, should he be elected, would follow the course of action established by legal precedent and proper procedure. In his numerous years of leadership and management experience he has never waivered from a reasoned and level headed approach to all sorts of crises. There is nothing about the decisions made by this small group of individuals that “ensures the safety” of anyone. Nothing happened after dark. Period. The idea to close the park early was a reactionary, emotional decision that had no merit or value and, as demonstrated, was completely illegal. We, along with Mr Fodi, oppose these kinds of ridiculous decisions that do nothing but punish and restrict law abiding citizens from enjoying their lives freely in our community.

      Finally, Mr Mayor, your reaction and criticism of this post rather than an open criticism of your colleagues in council who acted inappropriately and illegally demonstrates the kind of “we know better than you” superiority complex that is all too common in all levels of government today. This is why we exist and what we will stand against for as long as our movement persists.

  13. As a council person I welcome accountability. I would ask LIB to start filming and posting the meetings again so the public can actually see for themselves what goes on. I’m not sure it is fair to clump all of council into one “group.” Although our decisions are to be “councilmanic,” how each council person views their role and how much knowledge each member has about governing varies drastically. I welcome all citizen’s to get involved and voice your opinions. We are here to serve you not to dictate our agendas.

    • Kathy, I appreciate your comment. You know I hold all elected officials to the highest of standards, but you’re right, some know what they’re doing and how to do it better than others. When I’m elected I will hold myself to the same standard and will put myself in a position of accountability by posting reasons for my every action online for all to read.

      I would love to see LiB filming meetings again, but when our completely volunteer group consists of people with jobs, marriages, and children that’s not easily accomplished. What I’d prefer more than anything is for council to film and broadcast their own meetings. Why this is so difficult to have done consistently is beyond me. The camera council purchased for this reason is rarely utilized and even when it is, the recordings are never made available to anyone.

      Thanks again Kathy.

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