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Bell seeks emergency legislation to certify election results

March 16, 2011 | 10:35 am

The city of Bell is seeking emergency legislation that will help it finalize results of its recent election.

Bell faces a unique predicament because Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry Hall has ordered three current City Council members to stay at least 100 yards away from Bell City Hall and not to conduct city business. Without them, the council cannot declare the results and install the newly elected council members -- as required by the city charter.

The emergency legislation, authored by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), is expected to be discussed during a hearing Thursday.

AB 93 would enable the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution declaring the results of Bell's general and special recall elections. Once the county board declares the results, the newly elected council would be sworn in by Bell's city clerk within 48 hours, according to city officials.

"This legislation is arguably one of the most important pieces of restoring order in the city of Bell," said interim Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Carrillo. "It's a necessary part in restoring the public's trust in government."

On March 8, thousands of residents took part in the elections. About 95% of the residents voted to recall four council members who have been criticized since last summer for receiving hefty salaries. All have been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges.

Last October, Councilman Luis Artiga resigned amid the criminal charges. Councilman George Mirabal also resigned four days before the city's historic election, leaving Mayor Oscar Hernandez and council members Teresa Jacobo and Lorenzo Velez to declare the results and transfer power to the newly elected council members. Velez is the lone councilman not charged in the corruption case.

Carrillo said he and interim City Atty. James Casso began working on the matter in late February and formal asked Lara for the emergency legislation the week of the municipal elections. 

Without the legislation, Carrillo said, the newly elected council members would be waiting a long time until someone is authorized to seat them. 

"AB 93 legitimizes the certification, declaration and installation of the election, so there is no question this newly elected body of Bell can begin working earnestly," Carrillo said.


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