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Cheers, dancing in Bell as city leaders charged

September 21, 2010 | 12:21 pm


Charges against eight former and current Bell City Council members brought cheers around the working-class city Tuesday.

About two dozen residents gathered outside Bell City Hall as news of the arrests spread. One man used a bullhorn to broadcast the Queen song “Another One Bites the Dust.” Members of the crowd laughed and applauded, happy to see the arrests. (See video above).

At Pacific Furniture just a couple blocks from City Hall, the store's owner for 34 years, Enrique Martinez, watched the district attorney announce the charges on one of his store's big screen TVs. The arrests were just the start, he said.

"The lid finally blew off, and they're starting to fall," Martinez said, smiling and pointing at the mug shots on the screen. "One by one they're going to fall until this city is clean again."

On his desk sat a stack of blue fliers calling on local business owners to organize and fight corruption in the city. He said he would pass them out later in the day.

Leticia Gonzalez, 22, who was born and raised in Bell, said she was not sure the arrests and scrutiny of Bell's officials have been warranted.

"They were making a lot of money, but I don't have an issue with it because they were taking care of us," she said. "We have a clean city, good parks, no graffiti. It's very safe. If you look at other nearby cities like Maywood, it's a mess."

Gonzalez said she would never move from the city and plans on raising her son here, where her parents also live. "I'm not saying the salaries and other things that were going on were fair, because they weren't, but it's not like they were getting paid a lot and not doing a good job," she said. "The city staff, they have always helped us out."

-- Ruben Vives, Paloma Esquivel and My-Thuan Tran in Bell

Photo: Bell residents Jaime Luna, left, celebrates with Susanna Villela, center, in front of Bell City Hall on Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Arrests in Bell