Where the heck did they put that ball?

We talk about “dropping the ball” when referring to someone who has failed to do his job, who has overlooked important matters. It can happen to anyone from time to time, but in Bellevue there are way too many balls rolling all over the place.

There were three balls being dropped from the third floor of Bellevue’s borough building just this past week, and officials better keep their fingers crossed that they don’t bounce back and hit them in the face.

The first, of course, is the complete lack of preparation for considering an application for a liquor license in excess of the borough’s state-mandated quota. Just four years ago when Bellevue voters were heading to the polls to decide a second time whether to allow bars in the borough, advocates of eliminating the borough’s dry status argued that they could protect the borough by developing Conditional Licensing Agreements (CLAs) that would impose additional regulations on the “just two” bars that would be authorized by the passage of the referendum. That ball got dropped pretty darn fast once the referendum was approved and some time went by.

No one ever even considered what would happen when a third applicant appeared. Even when that applicant was on the agenda for a council meeting, no one bothered to even alert the solicitor and find out what the legal requirements were. No one rushed to present the applicant with a CLA. In fact, no one except council member Jodi Hause even called out for someone to put on the brakes.

Let’s be clear: This has absolutely nothing to do with whether this particular new business should open in Bellevue. This is all about Bellevue officials doing their jobs, learning what they need to learn, and implementing the proper procedures. And that ball was dropped – hard.

Next comes the ad hoc blight committee appointed by council. Apparently no one in the borough hall recalls that a state law comes into play when any official committee meets to discuss the business of the borough. The meetings must be advertised. Minutes must be taken and properly filed. This committee apparently has not only met, but developed an independent Web site to accept complaints from the public about blighted properties. Ad hoc committees are required to serve in an advisory capacity only. They are not authorized to take any action, and especially not create an end run around procedures already in place in the borough.

Once again, a great idea has been tarnished because no one thought to check the law or follow it. Hopefully Bellevue is only juggling this ball and will manage to get it back into control.

Talking about great ideas, there’s one more that has already exploded in the borough’s face once, and has the potential to do so again. Of course, we speak of WizardVue, the festival celebrating all things magic. Last year, the organizers managed to blow more than $20,000 -- $10,000 of it coming directly from the taxpayers – while raising a whopping $3,000 for Bayne Library. This year Mayor Emily Marburger was given permission by council to give it another try, contingent upon her submitting a comprehensive plan to council within 30 days.

That 30-day period has been here and gone. After talking with numerous officials, it seems that the only thing anyone has seen is last year’s street closure map. Council has yet to receive the financial report promised last August.

We are talking bout people who spent thousands of unbudgeted tax dollars without ever giving council – the only ones who can spend money in this borough – a heads up. We had the police department authorizing the expenditure of funds that ultimately were not even police department funds – they had to steal money from parks and recreation. This is not a group of people who are to be left unsupervised.

Did council say, sorry, you blew the conditions we placed on this year’s festival, your permission is revoked? Yeah, right. This became yet another ball that has been dropped. They talked a great game, but failed to perform when the ball disappeared.

It’s possible that this is what you can expect when you fill your council with people who have no experience, as Bellevue has done. But Bellevue has to find a way to keep an eye on all these balls, to follow up and follow through. In short, the ball has to stop somewhere in that borough hall, and it is up to council to figure out how to make that happen.