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City of Bell's budget mess is complicated by judge's order barring council members from City Hall

A judge's order that three sitting Bell council members stay away from City Hall while they await trial on corruption charges further paralyzes a city that may be only months away from insolvency.

The judge's order could mean that the Bell City Council cannot meet until a new council is elected in March.

The city faces a potential deficit of $3.5 million to $4.5 million and has defaulted on a $35-million bond.

The scandal-plagued city southeast of downtown Los Angeles has struggled to deal with its financial crisis in part because the council has met only three times in the last five months.

Officials had hoped that the council would approve budget cuts last month, but that meeting was canceled when Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo called in sick. The two, as well as Councilman George Mirabal, are charged by prosecutors with corruption.

In holding the three sitting council members and  three former council members over for trial on Wednesday, Judge Henry J. Hall said it was imperative to keep the accused council members away from city business. He noted that the council was already "effectively shut down" because Hernandez and Jacobo missed meetings.

The judge said he had considered ordering the city leaders back to jail and suggested prosecutors consider additional charges.

Acting City Administrator Pedro Carrillo has said he was hoping to have the council approve budget cuts to prevent the city from running out of money.

But if the council would not act, Carrillo said he could make cuts on his own that would allow the city to keep going until after the March council election.

RELATED:

Six officials ordered to stand trial for looting Bell treasury

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Corina Knoll

 
Comments () | Archives (5)

Judge Hall has the right idea, get these THUGS back into jail where they really belong and get the parasites off our Bell community! These criminals deserve that and more, especially the HOG/PIG Rizzo. Thanks to these Baffoons, we property tax payers will be stuck with levies up to $70 million over the next 30 years! Shame! New Council needs to reverse this criminal Measure A, get us back to a General Law City and unfortunately let our Bell PD go Sheriff which will surely save the city from bancruptcy...Bell PD are sorely overpaid!!!

The Council, consisting mostly of Crooks, has not had a quorum for months, so this order is no big deal.

Besides, does anyone really think that these Crooks would make good decisions for the city if they did meet?

Shut down the crooked police department and close the budget gap immediately. What is the city waiting for!? The moral and economic case for disbanding the force could not be more compelling, or urgent!

Throw the book at them. Dirtbag politicians, lock them up and throw away the key.

That's a very pejorative and opinionated headline ("City of Bell's budget mess is complicated by judge's order barring council members from City Hall") and I'm not sure it's true.

Since the Bell City Council has been unable to summon a quorum, some officials refuse to show up at all and a recall is underway, it's hard to imagine that the latest ruling will have much effect. If anything, it'll free up some parking spaces at City Hall.


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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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