Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Bell residents group wants city placed into receivership

October 7, 2010 | 12:59 pm

A group of Bell residents plan to march in front of City Hall on Thursday evening to demand that the city immediately be placed into receivership.

The residents said they will come armed with brooms and shovels and a message that Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown still needs to "clean house" in Bell.

"We think corruption runs deep in the city of Bell, and we have elected leaders that are not doing their job," said Nestor Valencia, founder of the Bell Residents Club, which is planning the 6:30 p.m. march. "[Councilman Lorenzo] Velez was appointed by the same people who have been criminally charged, so essentially we don't have the confidence; the public trust is not there for these council members, [interim City Administrator] Pedro Carrillo and [interim City Atty.] Jamie Casso."

Velez is the only councilman who was not arrested in the district attorney's corruption sweep or earning a nearly $100,000 annual salary from the city.

Valencia said he believes that placing the city into receivership is the "necessary solution" for Bell. Given the challenges the City Council faces -– with one member still in jail, one resigning his position, and two members calling in sick to Monday's meeting -- Valencia said he does not believe Carrillo and Casso can effectively manage the city.

Brown filed a lawsuit asking a judge to appoint a receiver for the city. On Sept. 30, he sent a letter to the city suggesting that it agree to another proposal, a court-appointed monitor who will have "complete and unfettered access to all matters relating to the City." The city has until Friday to respond to the attorney general's office.

Bell Assn. to Stop the Abuse co-founder Cristina Garcia said she has some concerns about receivership "when we don't know when it will end or any of the logistics."

The court-appointed monitor, she said, would work with a recall effort underway and allow for local control.

Garcia said she is also working on a proposal for a "transition council." Under that proposal, two respected residents would be appointed to work with Velez until an election can be held. Those residents would not be among the candidates running for office.

-- Ruben Vives