Los Angeles News

Chaos at Bell council meeting delays action

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bell City Council had much to discuss at Monday's meeting, including plans to refund residents on their property taxes. But late into the night, that had not happened.

The meeting, which ran more than four hours, had been dominated by angry public commentary.

The council seemed paralyzed by what can be described as chaos. It only took a few minutes into the meeting before the council lost control.

The dysfunction hit a high note when a man in a clown suit began doing stand-up comedy.

"Does anyone know what the difference is between a rattlesnake and an attorney?" the man quipped.

By 11 p.m., it appeared that nothing had been finalized.

The $3 million in property taxes was deemed by the state that the city's property tax rate was higher than legally allowed.

City officials were ordered to roll back the tax rate after the state controller discovered the city illegally raised its property taxes in 2007. The current rate is roughly 50 percent higher than it was three years ago.

Bell residents were upset that Monday's meeting was held in council chambers, a room that does not accommodate many people. Some residents felt like they were being pushed out of the meeting.

"Our first priority is for them to resign," said Cynthia Rodriguez with Bell Association to Stop the Abuse. "Since they're not willing to do it, we're going forward with the recall, but it's a long process. We just don't want them anymore. We're tired of their lies."

The scandal in Bell began when reports surfaced that city leaders were making abnormally high salaries.

Former City Manager Robert Rizzo who earned $800,000 and Bell Police Chief Randy Adams who earned $450,000 resigned in July amidst public outrage.

In the wake of the Bell scandal, the Los Angeles City Controller is ordering the salaries of just about all Los Angeles city employees posted online starting now.

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fraud, taxes, los angeles news, robert holguin
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