Shame, shame, shame

Over the course of the last 40+ years I have been to a lot of bad Bellevue Council meetings. A LOT. The very first council meeting I attended, in 1979, lasted until 1 a.m. and involved a lot of yelling…mostly by the council president at other members of council.

Bellevue has pretty much become the poster child for dysfunctional government, something The Citizen has pointed out frequently over the last four decades. Former Bellevue officials used to cross the street to avoid my father, who started this newspaper. I get personally attacked on social media any time I disagree with the chosen few who have appointed themselves the borough’s saviors. Sometimes I get attacked by two groups of opposing saviors at once. The ability to engage in civil discourse and debate has clearly been a challenge in Bellevue for some time.

But that struggle has finally gone too far. I'm sure I am not the only person who left the most recent Bellevue Council meeting feeling like I had been hit by a bus. The hostility in that room was unbearable, and the behavior was even worse.

On several occasions during the past year, the behavior of the people attending the council meetings has overshadowed the matter at issue. The ill-informed, not to mention the misinformed, citizens have come into the council chambers ready to attack. They were not there to listen or learn, to question or seek solutions. They have been hostile, sometimes aggressively so, with absolutely no intention of accepting any information that did not fit with their preconceived narrative.

Have we really reached the point where we honestly believe our local elected officials are part of some major conspiracy to make sure Bellevue doesn’t grow and thrive? Isn’t it just possible that people can have differing opinions on how to accomplish that goal, and that all of them could have some merit? Is there any way we might actually call one of these officials and ask them what they think before calling them vulgar names on social media? When did educating yourself on the facts become something we are just too lazy to do?

Historically, this newspaper has been very critical of Bellevue Council, mostly because, well, they make it so darn easy. But never, at any time, have I thought that the majority of council was somehow in it for themselves. For most rational human beings, there is very little reward in serving on council other than knowing you might just make things better. The things most people take away from their time on council are panic disorders, an increased need to drink heavily, and an insatiable desire to live somewhere – anywhere – else.

I know it is a sign of the times that inflammatory rhetoric and social media “news” are all the rage – literally. And I really don’t care if you don’t want to attend family dinners with your second cousin’s uncle because he is a Democrat, or a Republican, or a Communist, or a Martian, for that matter. But when it comes to local issues, could we please tone it down and look at all sides before deciding that one opinion will result in the total destruction of the borough and therefore must be fought with any available weapon?

Everyone – officials and citizens alike – have to tone down the rhetoric, tone down the attitude, and get rid of the self-righteous indignation. What people are doing right now is ensuring that Bellevue government will continue to be an embarrassment because no one with any sense will want to be involved. And do you really believe people who might want to move to or set up business in Bellevue can't Google all of this?

There is too much ugliness, hatred and division in this country. Want to make Bellevue a shining example for other communities? Start acting like reasonable adults, and maybe like good neighbors.