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Bell residents anxiously await meeting of new City Council

April 11, 2011 |  7:36 pm

Nearly 100 residents anxiously waited in line Monday evening as the new City Council in scandal-plagued Bell was ready to meet for the first time.

The council was expected to name a new mayor of the tiny working-class city in southeast Los Angeles County.

Those in the crowd outside a community center at City Hall included longtime residents and former city officials such as  former Councilman Rolf Janssen and Pete Werrlein, a former mayor who was sentenced to three years in prison in the 1980s for holding hidden interests in a poker casino.

Times investigation: articles, photos and interactive graphics of Bell corruption scandal

"I have an interest in the community," Werrlein said. "I want to see how it goes."

Newly elected Councilwoman Violetta Alvarez likened the waiting to childbirth. "It's like you're pregnant and expecting a child," she said. "They say it takes a village to raise a child. That's what we need to do with Bell."

Resident Roger Ramirez was also waiting to see the new council in action. In 2008, Ramirez, 57, filed a California Public Records Act request for the salary of former City Administrator Robert Rizzo.

Prosecutors have charged Rizzo with giving false information about his salary to Ramirez. Rizzo and seven other former Bell officials have all been charged with multiple felony counts by Los Angeles County prosecutors in a sweeping corruption case.

--Jeff Gottlieb at Bell City Hall