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Why doesn’t The Times list the political parties of Bell officials?

September 21, 2010 |  5:48 pm

Bell-cooley

The question has been asked since The Times began reporting on the city of Bell salary scandal, which culminated in the arrests Tuesday morning of eight current and former leaders on corruption charges: Why doesn’t The Times report the political parties of these officials?

"Does The Times have a target date for when it will finally report that the despised political looters of the city of Bell are Democrats?" asked Charles K. Sergis of Redondo Beach.

"The L.A. Times' reporting on Bell repeatedly fails to point out that all these crony Bell politicians are Democrats," wrote Gwilym McGrew of Woodland Hills

"I wonder why with all of the articles on the city of Bell, there is no mention of any of the officials party affiliation. Could it be they are all Democrats?" e-mailed Neil Mahony.

The question is also raised in comments on the L.A. Now post reporting the arrests Tuesday:

From Josh: "I note that this story doesn't mention what party the corrupt politicians belonged to – could you please provide the voters with that information?"

From Joseph: "Still waiting for the L.A. Times to report they were all Democrats."

From Anna: "The L.A. Times is hiding that these gangsters are Democrats."

The answer is that these are nonpartisan positions. Those arrested Tuesday were the mayor, three council members, two former council members, the former city manager and the assistant city manager. The mayor and council members are elected in nonpartisan elections. And the city manager and assistant city manager are not even elected officials.

Council members Teresa Jacobo and Luis Artiga, who were arrested Tuesday, were up for election in 2009. The sample ballot from that election is on the Bell city clerk’s website. No political party is listed for any City Council candidate.

The Times style guidelines call for citing the political affiliation when it is relevant to the position -- Democrat or Republican. Party has been listed in Times articles about Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, a Democrat, who is accused of ethics violations, as well as in coverage of the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, a Republican, who was convicted for accepting gifts (a conviction that was later thrown out).

In Bell, the story is not what political party the officials belong to. It’s the $800,000 city manager’s salary. It’s the investigation by Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown into salaries and allegations of voter fraud. It’s the city loan program that provided $1.49 million to employees. It’s the refunding of an illegal tax paid by residents. It’s the cars that police officers say they were urged to impound. It’s the arrests of eight people.

-- Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley announces the indictments. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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