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Bell election: Newly elected pledge to sweep out City Hall; interim administrator likely to be fired [Updated]

Incoming City Council members in Bell pledged to renew efforts to sweep out City Hall and said it is likely they will fire the interim city administrator and city attorney.

"I want to remove whoever is at City Hall who's not working for us. I want to know who put them behind those desks. I want to know what qualifications they have," said Violeta Alvarez, one of the winners in Tuesday's council elections.

Alvarez said it is vital to remove leaders who have a link to Robert Rizzo, the former chief administrator who now faces charges of looting the small city southeast of Los Angeles.

Ali Saleh, a businessman who also was elected, said it would be a priority to get rid of interim City Administrator Pedro Carrillo and interim City Attorney Jamie Casso.

Carrillo and Casso have walked a tightrope since the salary scandal enveloped the city last summer, at times criticized for being part of the "Rizzo regime," and at other times praised for cutting the city's payroll.

Carrillo said he has been in touch with new council members and is preparing staff reports on possible cuts to keep the city solvent. The interim government is in a good position to get the city back on its feet, he argued.

"The interim government has basically taken some very calculated decisions in the best interest of the city of Bell," Carrillo said Wednesday. "We haven't shut our doors. We're still in a position where we can balance the budget. We all have to come together now with the new council."

Casso echoed Carrillo's comments.

"It's been a herculean task to be able to get through all of that ... but at the end of the day, the city is much more transparent and much more readily available to the residents," Casso said.

A majority of new council members said they hope to save the city's beleaguered Police Department, which is being investigated for possible civil rights violations and predatory law enforcement.

Carrillo, in a previous staff report, said the city will have a deep deficit by the end of the current fiscal year if it doesn't take drastic steps, possibly including disbanding the Police Department.

Danny Harber, another winner in the city elections, said he would like to renegotiate the police contract and bargain for pay cuts in an effort to save the department.

"They say they're willing to sit down and take a pay cut, as well as restructure the department," Harber said. "But just because they supported the slate doesn't mean they get whatever they want."

He added, "I'll do everything I can to keep the Police department, but only if it is viable."

Alvarez and Saleh said they would like to return $22 million in bond money the city borrowed to build a sports complex. The sports complex never materialized.

[Updated at 2:11 p.m.: Winning council candidate Nestor Valencia, a healthcare management consultant, was more measured in his response concerning Casso and Carrillo.

"I know the knee-jerk reaction is to throw these people out," he said. "We're professionals now. We can't go in there blazing guns."

He said he would like to see the city clerk's job become an elected, rather than an appointed, position.  

Though he ran on the Justice 4 Bell slate, which was associated with a call to dismantle the Police department, Valencia said he hasn't made up his mind on the issue.

"Everything's on the table, including a metro police, including asking them to lower their salaries and adjusting their pensions," he said.

As for the $22 million in bond money, Valencia said he favors putting the money in an interest-bearing account -– rather than in the non-interest-bearing account in which it now sits -– while the council figures out what to do with it.   

"The city is confronting tough choices in fixing its budget," he said. "The larger point is, we have to look at the culture of living within our means, driving a Camry, not a Lexus."]

RELATED:

Former Bell Councilman Victor Bello posts bail, released from jail

New Bell council must act quickly to avoid insolvency; big budget cuts likely

Bell election: Voters recall embattled council members and elect new representatives

-- Paloma Esquivel, Christopher Goffard and Ruben Vives

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

I was never real impressed with Danny until NOW. He think he has exactly what Bell needs. Integrity! Good luck Mr. Harber.

It seems to me that the FINE people in the city of Bell, Have taken a positive step forward,Based on the fact that the old regime hired a Dubious,Disgusting,Unethical poor excuse for chief of police A.K.A. Randy Adams,They should save money,keep control of their city,And search,find and hire Ex Det.Sergeant James Corcoran as chief,,he can weed out all Rizzo and Adams's henchmen.Starting with Lt.Ty Henshaw and on down,,,,,,CLEAN OUT THE DEPT. great start!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Valencia never ceases to amaze me. Did we just re-elect Mirabal?!?!?!? What a back stabbing LIAR

harber's talking the talk but can he walk the walk only time will tell thought nestor worries me with wanting to keep Casso and Carrillo , then again they are all weak kneed democrats so we will see

Yes. Mr. Harber seems to have integrity - Saleh is questionable. Let's hope they both come with what ever integrity they have to the negotiating table NOT ready to pay back the PD for getting them there. Remember - only the PD-backed candidates made out big in the ellections. WE'LL BE WATCHING - ALL!

Nestor,Please don't call yourself a professional you've done nothing.What you have done is take outside money for your campaing and now you owe the man.Shut your pie hole and start working with the new City Council.You are the first council elect most likely to repeat the past.So professional you are not.Take time out before you speak to the press.

What residents need is real representation and not councilmembers who will act as pawns for the police department. Their election should be a representation of their ability to make tough decisions and to use their new power to carry out the tough decisions rather than their promise to secure a new police contract.

God Bless the newly elected members of the City Council in Bell! Make sure the members of your staff - the City Manager, the City Engineer, the City Attnorney, Police Chief, etc. have integrity and a high moral standard. There is certainly a lesson to be learned from Bell. Citizens should pay attention to what their elected officials are doing, and Council members should make sure what they are being told by staff members is the truth! The best of luck to Bell!

There are a lot of other communities where elected officials are feeding heavily at the trough at taxpayers expense. I hope this case brings enough interest to spotlight those situations and have them corrected. Public Service should be just that. Pay should be commensurate with identifiable contributions to the public welfare.

Whatever you guys do, dont hire anyone from Maywood. We dont need more coruption, weve had our share already.


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