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Four Bell council members must resign after turning city into ‘laughing stock,’ colleague says

August 9, 2010 |  8:17 am

Bell City Councilman Lorenzo Velez, the only member of the City Council not under investigation for a high salary or being targeted for recall, is calling for the resignation of his four colleagues.

In a statement released late Sunday, Velez said he is now supporting the recall efforts of the Bell Assn. to Stop the Abuse and believes the city must "clean house." The four other council members -- Oscar Hernandez, Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal –- had been earning $100,000 a year until they announced recently that they would take a 90% pay cut.

"They have no credibility and have made Bell the laughing stock of the nation," Velez said. "If they have any integrity remaining, they would save the city the cost of a recall and resign."

Velez said the city must appoint a new administrative officer, police chief and city attorney to assure residents that the city can heal and move forward.

Velez' statements come after new revelations that the city's former chief administrative officer, Robert Rizzo, was earning a compensation package of $1.5 million annually, nearly double the $787,000 annual salary that The Times' first reported. The councilman said he believes there is a "conscious effort to withhold information" and that officials have "dragged their feet" in releasing documents.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office and state attorney general's office are investigating the high salaries as well as allegations of voter fraud in Bell.

-- Kimi Yoshino