In the ongoing shakedown of city officials in Bell, pay cuts, resignations, and investigations are flying left and right. Earlier this week and under tremendous pressure, Bell’s City Council voted to take a 90 percent pay decrease so that council members will only earn $673 a month. Four council members were reported to be earning salaries close to $100,000. The LA Times also reports that Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo will finish their terms with no pay and Hernandez has indicated that he will not seek reelection. For many residents of Bell, however, the pay cuts are not enough, as they expected council members to resign.Pedro Carrillo is serving as the city’s the interim chief administrative officer and he has asked State Controller John Chiang to conduct an independent audit of the city's finances to meet demands for more transparency. Also, it has been announced that a probe into allegations of conflicts of interest involving municipal business and voter fraud has been expanded by Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. The Times reports:
“Cooley also said investigators were looking at whether council members had received pay for meetings they did not attend or meetings that lasted only a few minutes. Most of the pay that Bell council members received came not from their City Council salaries, but as stipends for serving on the boards of city panels, such as the Public Financing, Surplus Property, and Solid Waste and Recycling authorities. City records indicate that those boards performed little work and that their business was routinely conducted during council meetings. In some cases, the board meetings would last no more than a minute, according to the records.”
Several elections are being reviewed, including possible issues with absentee ballots. For more on the pending investigations, read here.
(Photo: Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times)