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Bell councilman accuses colleagues of 'holding the city hostage'

Lorenzo_velez Bell Councilman Lorenzo Velez -- the only City Council member not facing corruption charges -- urged his colleagues Friday morning to start showing up at meetings so that crucial decisions can be made about the city's financial future.

"The councilmembers are holding the city hostage," Velez said at a press conference Friday morning at Bell City Hall. "We need to address the $3.5-million budget deficit. There are very tough decisions that need to be made."

The council has met only three times in the last five months and on one of those occasions Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo walked out after being heckled by the crowd. Both are facing criminal charges and both have called in sick to meetings repeatedly.

Velez said he has tried to speak personally with Jacobo and Hernandez, but they have not returned his calls.

Without a quorum, the city has been forced to cancel meetings and has failed to vote on important budget cuts. Interim City Administrator Pedro Carrillo has said that the council's inability to meet could force him to use his authority to cut expenses to keep the city from insolvency.

The city faces a deficit of $3.5 million to $4.5 million and could be unable to pay its bills as early as May unless significant expenses are cut. Among the options the council is considering is whether to disband the Police Department, which eats up 67% of the general fund.

Hernandez, Jacobo and Councilmember George Mirabal were among the eight current and former Bell officials charged with misappropriating public funds and public corruption. Councilman Luis Artiga was also charged, but he resigned. A recall election will be held in March.

RELATED:

Bell could start running out of cash in May as deficit grows

State controller posts more government salaries online

Bell City Council meeting canceled after two lawmakers fail to appear

-- Ruben Vives in Bell

Photo credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

March is just now soon enough, is it?

I wonder if they are still getting paid ?
It so sad this filthy politicians can ruin a whole city.

Sounds to me like the biggest expenses have already been cut, political fat..

I think it would be a good idea to audit EVERY city in Cal because I highly doubt Bell is the only City to pulling this type of scam. I wouldn't be surprised if Los Angeles is doing the same thing only they're more clever at moving the money around.

Can't Bell simply be liquidated as a Municipal entity? The people running(?) this city are an embarrassment to themselves.

Just getting ready to have a special meeting after the recall and start cutting. Hernandez and company will have their day in court.

I think the best case for Bell would be absorption into City of Los Angeles, or unincorporated status in the County.

they won't be able to steal any more money, so they don't like the job anymore, now they will have to find a new small town where they can run for office and do it all over again.

City of Commerce should be next. They are making millions there. The council members have been there forever.

elmoro, you don't know what you're talking about. the city of commerce is in good standing compared to other cities because of revenue makers like the Citadel and the Casino and making smart financial decisions. also the councilmembers have not been there forever. argumedo has resigned, leon had a long gap between terms and the others have only been there since 2005. Please check your facts next time before spewing nonsense.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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