Mapping LA Neighborhoods
MAPPING L.A. > Southeast


Tell us what Bell means to you

  • What makes this a good place to live? What are the downsides?


The new City management and City Council for Bell is a step in a good direction. Bell have many opportunities to be a regional attraction for economic and resident development.

— Angela
July 10, 2012 at 9:03 p.m.

I was raised in Inglewood my family and I suffered from crimes commited against us I moved to Bell about 4 years ago you see my lady is from bell gardens so she found this place for me and our family finally no more gun shots,helicopters at nights,murders rapes and all that crap Bell is indeed the nicest and safe place for us.Im happy here not 100 percent but if you forget something of value like a bike which has happen to me outside and find it there the next morning its a nice neighborhood.I feel safe thats something I have never felt.good bye

June 19, 2012 at 2:11 a.m.

How can you help solve the problems of drug abuse?

March 13, 2012 at 7:48 a.m.

The job of a elected official(s), is to continue to provide the needs of the community, a better quality of life for all. The former Councilmember were greedy, to say the least, and MORANS, that they served their own needs and of their families.$$$$$$$$$, stealing from the community, yet feeling no SHAME.

— Roger (Roy) Ramirez
June 28, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.

there are many factors that cause the city of Bell to go down hill, #1, poor City management,George Cole Ray Johnson and Pete Weirlein and their administration, lack of community involvement,

— Roger (Roy) Ramirez
June 28, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.

After reading some of the comments, I would like to say that Bell has been one of the nicest kept cities in the SouthEast. Most of the crimes are commited by people who live in the surrounding cities. The police officers as a majority, love working in Bell and for the people of Bell. Our hearts go out to the citizens of Bell for the rape by city officials. The most important thing to remember now is to go forward and put Bell back to the way it was several years ago. We have learned a big lesson. We will survive.

Bell is not in this by itself. Don't be kidding yourself if you don't think there are other cities in the area with the same problem. Now that the elections are over, other cities are breathing a little easier. You don't have to let that happen if you keep in touch with what is going on in your city. This is your city so why would you not be involved and informed.

I believe that Bell will soon have responsible city council members who are better educated and who have some knowledge of politics and with higher degree of ethics. When this happens, be involved, support your city council and your Bell police officers.

November 20, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.

I live in city of El Monte, median income of the city is 44K with over 120K in population, that means half=over 60K under that level, yet the tax is 1.4% not including any special local assessment tax, rate is actual over 1.5% . one of the highest in LA county, it ranked the 5th highest, yet median income ranked one of the lowest. how did these officials spent my tax dollar?

— Howling man
September 21, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.

We can cry, bitch, piss & moan, but there is nothing different in Bell, CA than anywhere else. This is happening EVERYWHERE! Politicians ride continually on the backs of the poor. They always have, and they always will. When they are caught, they ought to be held responsible to repay what they have stolen from those who, in good faith, placed them in power. The people who voted them into office should elect viable leaders, and not simply those who look good or spend the most money to get elected. Those elected have a responsibility to serve. If service is not forthcoming, they should have a one year probationary period for their office. If performance is demonstrated, they stay, if not, a new election should be held.

— P H Allen
September 6, 2010 at 3:48 p.m.

those city officials recieving those enormous salary are nothing but a bunch of common thieves....nothing moved them but money...and using their elected/appointed positions to amass more $$$ from taxpayers treasury...same on them me that's a very serious crime and should have their properties confiscated and thrown into jail to join their cohorts..shame on them...

— junior
August 24, 2010 at 7:47 p.m.

My family moved to Bell when I was six years old. I remember having a lot of friends when we moved to Bell and I liked the area school, especially the high school.

While growing up I didn't pay any attention to what was going on politically. One thing I really didn't like was the gang problems the plagued Bell and the surrounding cities in the 80's and early 90's. 18th Street, Bear Street, Orchard Street among others would harass kids to and from school. More recently, Kansas Street has done the same thing to a lesser extent, but has forced kids into the gang.

Everyone in the community knows who’s responsible for crime on the streets and no one says anything. Stopping the corrupt city government isn’t enough; we need to save ourselves on the street. Gangs and drug traffickers do what they, because they know no one will tell on them. Make the city an even better place by helping to stop all crime, not just the crime at the city hall.

School attendance, ask Bell high for truancy stats… If you have a brother, sister, cousin or neighbors not going to school, try to make them. Our schools lose money when they don’t go and the person not going loses the benefit of a good education.

Lastly, I think there should be more after school programs for kids, since there are so many people that have more than one job. That’s one area that city money could and should go to, instead of the killer salaries.

It’s not the city that means so much, but the great community members.

— Drew
August 21, 2010 at 2:07 p.m.

when my family accomplish our biggest dream to purchase a home, we chose Bell as our home. we where very proud to leave in the city called La perla del oeste, when people ask us where do you leave we answer in Bell, not Bellgardens, not Bellflower, not Belair, just Bell the city of la Campana. no one knew about Bell now we are the biggest laughing stock. we are now on the map as the biggest corrupt city.

— bell homeowner
August 18, 2010 at 9:21 p.m.

The actions of the elected and appointed officials tell me, organized crime is still alive and well in the state of California. All I keep hearing no jobs, more taxes and these folks continue to line their pockets, while park and recreation areas close. Human services and police patrols are either scaled back or eliminated. What the hell is happening to us? Why are we allowing these people to steal from us? The President of the US comes to California, with secret service en tow to scrape up money for the Demoncrats and we foot the bill in taxes for the travel, security (public and personal)and for his entourage and plane. Wow! he is another expense we are going to absorb. However, we have no job, business leaving the state, and a future that is bleak. Good luck to us all. Wait until they knock on your door...Sound like the Story of Robin Hood, where the nephew of the king made his minion knock at the doors of the poor and take money for tax and if they didn't pay out you go. Just wait we are almost there with our society. Good Luck to us all.

— Gustavo
August 17, 2010 at 10:17 p.m.

" I always knew deep inside that Los Angeles is great, its own beauty in it's own way. I knew deep inside that California being tha way it is, in debt was done by all the bureaucrat and politicians stealing money from us Californians, I would start checking all of them!"

— Marco A. Garcia
August 15, 2010 at 4:42 p.m.

Where is it written the 2.6 million must go to the schools? The schools will NEVER see the MONEY. It should be returned to the people who were over charged. Refund the money back to the people who were over charged because of greed.

— Letc
August 15, 2010 at 7:36 a.m.

We purchased our first home in the City of Bell two years ago. We lived there before as renters and liked the area, the parks and mostly because it was affordable. When we paid for our property taxes, we did notice that they were a bit high but didn't fight it. Little did we know that part of this money was to pay for many greedy people's luxurious lifestyle.

I want to THANK the L.A. Times for a job well done in investigating and reporting on this issue. Hopefully we, the people of the City of Bell, will soon recooperate and put all this in the past.

Greed by the prior council should not corrupt the entire City. The City of Bell will continue to be what it has been, a city full of good, honest, working people that simply trusted their city managers.

— Carmen
August 13, 2010 at 10:27 p.m.

Just another manifestation of the "American Way". Get it all for yourself, and screw everyone else.

— Steve
August 13, 2010 at 1:25 p.m.

I live in a small town in Northern California that also had a city hall gone wild with no one paying attention or they were looking the other way. We began recording the council meetings and posting them online and on public access tv as well as posting every public document we can get our hands on. I recommend anyone who is looking for a way to give back to ther community and make a real difference do the same. It is your right and your obligation as an American to participate in your local government. Bell serves as the perfect example of why citizen involvement is needed.

— Sharon Wolff
August 7, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.

The City of Bell is a great place to have a business. We have had a family business since 1976. We have fostered a great business cliental. The only problem has been how the City of Bell has been run by its elected government officials.

It seems to be that the elected officials forget their oath and that is to serve their community. Where these elected officials lose sight would be difficult to say but it is safe to say it is based on greed.

The City of Bell should never have had a revenue flow problem and should be on par with the City of Bell Gardens and the City of Commerce with a never ending flow of casino revenue. But greed brought this to an end quickly with the Pete Werrlein Casio Era in the 1980s and 1990s. Then the City of Bell tries to rehire Pete Werrlein to restart the defunct “Bell Casino.” Pete Werrlein is then hired as a consultant to run and operate it after serving a prison sentence at the recommendation of the city council with George Cole as a serving member. That is like having a wolf watching the chicken hen!

The City of Bell hires Robert Rizzo with a documented troubled administration in Hesperia. Should I say more…..

The City of Bell moves ahead and now there is a “The Don George Cole” a man that did not have a leg to stand on financially prior to being a council member. It appears he used his influences very wisely. Cole then steps down from the Bell Council, why?

And now moving forward…. There is the Oscar Hernandez Mega Store built in a residential district. Would other residents be able to do the same? Try?

My one wish for the remainder of the year is that the proper authorities get involved and are able to rid the City of Bell of this malignant cancer that has grown to fester for so long, bad politics.

How can City of Bell Council Members honestly accept salaries close to $100,000 year when the norm is $400 dollars a month? What thought or brain fart could have entered their minds and made them believe their services were worth so much? Answer: GREED

Aside from the above mentioned the City of Bell is a great place to live.

— Manny
August 7, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.

This tale of two cities alarms me extremely in more ways than one. First - I was born in Maywood; raised in Bell; attended church and married in Bell, and delivered my children in the Maywood Hospital. Second this is alarming because all citizens should be invloved civically in their communities. We need to demand transparency and accountability of our elected representatives as well as our civil servants. And last, no man, women, or child should be subject to intimitation by authority.

— Carolene
August 6, 2010 at 11:45 p.m.

So sad to see Luis Artiga one of the councilman and Pastor of Bell Community Church involve in such disgraceful situation.

— Lora
August 6, 2010 at 10:31 p.m.

I served proudly as an elected offical 94-99 in Southeast. When and how did the seated councilmembers for Bell lose sight about it being FOR THE PEOPLE? Their choices and decisions as elected officials for the City of Bell are nothing less than criminal, horrendous,and nauseating, to the the PEOPLE who work hard and most of all TRUSTED them.

— Elvira Moreno
August 2, 2010 at 3:17 p.m.

The city is a great place to live they have nice parks for the children. The downside is that the city is run buy very dishonest council members and city managers. They are a bunch of crooks they abused us residents by charging high property taxes and charging taxes on all of our utility bills They need to stop that abuse we are not rich residents we are trying to make an honest living. Those crooks keep taxing us so much so they can stuff their pockets and fatten their bank accounts so they can live like the rich and famous........... in 2008 they laid off city employees telling them a big fat lie that the city had no more money in the budget........ My father was one of the city employees that was laid off now he's struggling to make ends meet while these fat rats are living the rich life living in mansions by the beach taking crusises eating caviar while we are eating rice beans and whatever is cheap. we need our afterschool program back that is for the benefit of our children. Our city needs some honest people to run our city to help our city residents and children stop the abuse now and forever .................... We're the people for the people we need strong honest people enough is enough..........

August 2, 2010 at 2:19 p.m.

First of all, kudos to the LA Times for its great investigating on bringing transperancy to the "Bell" debacle. It was equally unbelievable how the mayor supported his "cronies" when those cronies were forced to resign. That whole council should be prosecuted. There was a time when government service meant working "for the people." Not anymore, now its the "people" who work for the government. I'm in the prviate sector. I don't get a pension, I don't get free health care, I don't get vacation pay and sick leave pay. I have to fund and pay for this myself. Why should my tax dollars go to the government employees making a decent wage in this economy compounded by all the perks they get. It is disgusting. The only way to get ahead in this nation generally speaking is to work for the government. I heard that Obama and his wife have taken more vacations in the last year than any other president in recent memory. This country, which I admire and love, is unfortunatetly heading in a dangerous direction. Bottom line, get rid of the pensions and all the perks and I guarantee you people will still apply for government jobs because the pay scale is good. They do better financially than most people they are suppose to serve in the private sector.

— Craig
July 31, 2010 at 5:51 p.m.

A small town miracle thanks to diligent citizens with the L A Times in the forefront now all of the rest of us in Calif. need to glance over our shoulders in our own communities also, just in case this same death of honesty and respectabilty has spread.

— tiny mite
July 30, 2010 at 2:18 p.m.

city manager of the littlw town of

big bear lake,,255K plus housing

and car....Please...

— ron
July 30, 2010 at 11:15 a.m.

LA Times, I commend you for bringing all of Bell's issues to light. Now I know, why my PROPERTY TAXES, WERE SO HIGH!!!!

If justice exists, Bell residents should be re-imbursed for all the years we have been OVER PAYING!!

Again, thank you so much for your time.

— Maria
July 29, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.

Why is it that every time I read about a corrupt public servant I learn that the city attorney for that agency is from Best, Best & Krieger? Is this just a coincidence, or should some one be looking at this law firm? After all, the city attorney is responsible for reviewing contracts, signing off on those contracts. Was the Bell city attorney asleep at the wheel, or should his contract be looked at as well. The actions of corrupt officials do not happen in a vacuum, it takes the cooperation of other officials as well, i.e., finance director and city clerk, to name a few who have responsibilities that tie into what has happened.

— Public Servant
July 29, 2010 at 6:12 a.m.

i have lived in Bell for 25 years, raised my children here, and for the first time have gotten involved in the politic of Bell.....and by God what a shame. our council members should just resign and let a new council come in. in that council there should be a Bell resident a normal person that knows what it is it to work hard not just person with degrees.

July 28, 2010 at 4:51 p.m.

Please investigate the LAUSD and other school districts for the same type of pension corruption.

— theCanimal
July 28, 2010 at 3:40 p.m.

Thanks to LA Times reporters for exposing this scandal. However, Bell could not have been the only city with this kind of scandal. The LA Times should start investigate other cities or government officials rather than having reporters do articles on Lohan or fluff pieces like a Taiwanese reporter on your staff traveling back to Taiwan or have Dave Lazarus write about financial tips when all of us are out of money. Wake up LA Times and do some real work please.

— mustapha mond
July 28, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.

Please don't paint all municipal employees with the same broad brush as the City of Bell. We are hard working Americans who care deeply about the residents and communities we serve. We share your outrage at what is taking place in Bell, as it gves us all a bad name. In Bell, a few managers set out to deceive the public and receive unjustifiable compensation that they did not deserve. We share your condemnation of their actions and hope that legal action can be taken against them.

My colleagues and I chose a life of public service to make a difference. We are coaches, crossing guards, clerks, managers and directors. As we all seek justice against the corrupt managers in Bell, please remember that the vast majority of your city employees are just like you... impeccably honest, hard working individuals committed to our profession.

— Ben
July 28, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

This is the tip of the iceberg, if you examined & disclosed(and i think it should happen)all political office holders salaries AND perks we would all be surprised what these self serving criminals are getting away with - this would explain a lot as to why California is now becoming one of the worst places to live in! Congrats for destroying this wonderful state; we pay illegals more than we do to our veterans- something is clearly wrong and everyone is stealing- no longer is this country a land that the honest person can make a living; its about dishonesty, drugs, gangs, govt corruption, murders, self serving deeds, oh wait- its starting to look exactly like Mexico... your got what you wished for MEXICO with all of its corruption; next we will see severed heads on the freeways next to the gang graffiti - I am anxious to get out of this hell hole after living nearly 30 yrs - I have seen a major change in the last 10 yrs! for the worse... check the DWP retiree paychecks you'll be all surprised why your bills are so high - everyone makes over $100,000 for retirement!!!!

— barbara
July 27, 2010 at 4:58 p.m.

I'd like to thank the Los Angeles Times for giving us a voice- I have heard that City of Bell taxpayers pay a lot more in taxes than cities such Anaheim, Yorba Linda and of that caliber. With the kind of taxes that home owners have been paying we could have really made this a city to be envied not pitied. The right thing for council and the high paid managers to do is forego those pensions, payback some monies to cover the debt the city is in. We should also focus on the council member Luis Velez.. he may not have been highly paid or corrupt, but what use is he if it was under his nose all this time. "He didn't know", well then he's not right for the job. We need "hands on" and assertive people. Velez needs to go to instead of sitting there thinking, "I didn't do anything wrong." Well, he didn't do anything right either!

— Jessie
July 27, 2010 at 8:59 a.m.

I attended the Council meeting yesterday, July 26, 2010, but was very disappointed because a fence was put up around the corridor. There were hundres of Bell residents present too, and we were not able to listen to the proceedings that took place inside the community center. Bell residents deserve respect. Bell Mayor, Vice Mayor and Council Members should resign!

With a Master's Degree, and as a Bell resident, I surely can do the job with half of the money they were illegally giving themselves. Mr. Brown, Attorney General, please conduct a FAIR AND THOROUGH INVESTIGATION. Now I know why my property taxes are so high, I was paying these criminal's salaries. I am embarrased to be a Bell resident.

— Maria
July 27, 2010 at 8:42 a.m.

My understanding the council wants to stay with little or no pay to rid themselves of the group they suspect leaked their dark secrets... Who? Bell Police. Bell PD was not on the same team as their Chief nor the Council.

— Jessie
July 27, 2010 at 8:15 a.m.

so what if their working for free, here's a better deal: give taxpayers the money you took from them and EARN your money just like the REST OF US

— chris zambrano
July 27, 2010 at 7:55 a.m.

It is an outrage the abuse by city administrators. All salaries pertinent to all city employees, outside vendors and contractors need to be make public. It is a shame that Latino politicians will abuse the Latino community that way. All Council Members need to resign immediately or they need to be recall! No wonder Americans distrust their politicians, shame on all corrupt politicians!

— Antonio Novoa
July 27, 2010 at 7:46 a.m.


I think what one person pointed out, was to keep officials accountable, is a great start. At the same time, a legitimate, but what would appear to be considered excessive, contract what executed for services.

The city of Bell is an interesting animal. It has a positive cash flow and was on the brink of bankruptcy, before CAO Rizzo was brought in. His, and others' compensation packages were based upon performance. if we look at the City of Los Angeles and the fiscal crisis that appears every year, instead of cutting spending, the City increases the "feel good" programs and puts the screws to the average citizen, through tennis court fees, green fees and the like, where once these were FREE.

One of the reasons why I moved from Los Angeles was because talent costs money. George Steinbrenner and Charlie Finley have shown that to attract top talent, you have to pay for it, which leads into the old axiom, "You get what you pay for."

When the neophytes come along and say they can do it for less than $100k a year, I strongly suggest that if they run for and elected to office, they return the "excessive amount" to the respective jurisidiction.

In the meantime, I understand that Bernie Parks is double or triple dipping between his pension and his city council salary, to the tune of over $350k/yr.

Pensions should be drawn only if someone is not on the City payroll and this is one of the reasons why the system is broken.

Time to get rid of pensions and have the city employees join and contribute to 401k's, just like the rest of us.

— Steve M.
July 27, 2010 at 7:40 a.m.

I am glad the residents of Bell are standing up for themselves! Their leaders should be ashamed of themselves. Bell maybe a poor community, but looks like they are detrmined,smart and very triumphant when united!

— rosie
July 27, 2010 at 7:35 a.m.

Proud of the citizens of Bell.

In the neighboring City of Commerce, which is mostly industrial, there are not enough citizens to fight the corrupt mayor and his brother that run the trash disposal business that enables them to pocket millions.

— Mad in Orange County
July 27, 2010 at 7:31 a.m.

I was quite proud that our small community turned out in what I thought was a peaceful protest. Everyone there with the exception of two thug looking young men in their early twenties were there to urge the council to resign. I attempted to speak to these makeshift thugs and questioned their motives for support of the council members. They had no response. –nothing- ………did someone pay them to hold this banner in support of the corrupt council members?

Through speakers outside of the community center we were able to hear tidbits of the audacity occurring inside. Ms. Jacobo explained in Spanish that her interest is and has always been in serving the community- how dare she think that she or the rest of the council members with this exorbitant pay are trustworthy? They can not be entrusted to serve at all. In an effort to relate to my community she spoke in what is the maternal language of the majority. She is scum; she need not pretend to be “my people” by speaking my language- absolutely offensive! It is a shame that these individuals with backgrounds similar to the citizens of our city turn and take advantage of us.

— Angelica L Torres
July 27, 2010 at 7:28 a.m.

Residents of Bell ca. , Show Americans

the power of the TAXPAYER , FIRE

THEM ALL . Bell vs the Gavel of


— slimjim66
July 27, 2010 at 3:33 a.m.

This deplorable behaviour by the greedy and dishonest officials in the city of Bell should serve as a wake up call to citizens across the nation. If you think your little city is "bad," look at your state, or better yet, the federal government!

We have a little boy for a president, surrounded by corrupt, power hungry, self-serving incompetents like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shummer, Charley Wrangle, and a LONG list of others.

Hello!? Our nation has serious problems because IDIOTS voted these jack*sses into power. Perhaps you are part of the problem.

— MD
July 27, 2010 at 3:08 a.m.


The City Council members belong in jail, period!!!! The City of Bell laid off city workers (hourly workers) because they supposedly could not afford to pay them! What a joke, the council members haven been stealing, ripping off the citizens of Bell for YEARS!!!

If they do not go to jail, it will be the largest out-cry this state possibly country has ever seen.

They intentionally, willfully and purposely defrauded the people. If it were you or I we would be in jail!!

It is long over due we stand up and fight these criminals!! They are lower then scum.

— Debbie
July 27, 2010 at 12:46 a.m.

they made so much! now what? its looking pretty nice in their bank account. They don't care if they resign. They must have millions by know. They can live a nice life with what they took

— Alex
July 27, 2010 at 12:34 a.m.

Little too late; I think Jerry Brown and district attorney should also be looking into surrounding cities; try commerce.. those counsel memebers want all employee to keep taking pay cuts.... except them. If Los Angeles Mayor can take a pay cut' why can't others?

— Hector
July 27, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.

There should be a way to abolish the outrageous pensions of the deposed City Manager and his 2 sidekicks.

— Victoria Cypherd
July 26, 2010 at 11:40 p.m.

This is a wake up call to citizens all over the country. It is YOUR responsibility to hold your elected leaders accountable. Do not allow the powerful to take advantage of you. Be part of the system...VOTE and know what you're voting for or against.

— William
July 26, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.

Bell is a city of hard working people. Blue Collar indiviuals making it pay check to pay check. People of integrity, people of tradition, and pride. The downsides of living here is that people are wraped up on thier everday living trying to make it. We are in the making of transforming our city. Now is the time to transform our Education in this City and hold the schools in this nieghborhood accountable. Now its time to hold each other accountable for transforming the community we live in. Now it is time to take a stand and make a better future for the Citizens of Bell.

— Ruben Gonzalez
July 26, 2010 at 10:45 p.m.

REMEMBER..The more people that work for the government, the less the government works for you. Who would ever vote to decrease their own salary or pension!

— JT
July 26, 2010 at 9:55 p.m.

I feel for the hardworking residents and business owners, they have been ripped off.

— my 2 cents worth
July 26, 2010 at 9:07 p.m.

This Was pure greed. These council members knew exactly what they were doing was totaly wrong. Bell is not a rich community and is suffering from the recession like most poor communities. Time to check all pay grades in all the surrounding communities.

— C. Solis
July 26, 2010 at 8:52 p.m.

clesn house replace every one, make all of thim pay the money back, put all of thim in prison, if it was me tha would put me in prison for life??

— clyde dennis
July 26, 2010 at 8:03 p.m.

Outrageous thieves who should be jailed and made to return the money they stole from the taxpayers and the unfortunate.

— P. Lutken
July 26, 2010 at 7:32 p.m.

I predict turnout for the next election will be better, then things will go back to normal in a year or so, with people forgetting this and being more interested in soccer games than local politics

— Maybe right?
July 26, 2010 at 6:56 p.m.

I hope this catches the eye of the IRS. After all, that's how they finally got Al Capone.

— swf
July 26, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.

Good work LA Times! Like Alan says this is only the tip of the iceberg. I strongly believe the LA Times should investigate all of the cities in and around the Southland to get a better picture of what these high level city employees salaries and perks are. I think we all would be surprised. As an example the city manager of Upland earns close to $300,000 per year, but also gets a housing allowance and a car allowance and many other perks. Seems to me city councils are very liberal in handing out benefits to these high level employees who appear to jump from city to city in search of more pay and benefits.

— Upland Resident
July 26, 2010 at 2:22 p.m.

I was raised in the City of Bell and attended Corona Ave and graduated from Bell High School. The mayor Oscar Hernandez has been crooked for many many years. He used to befriend older residents in Bell and then take over thier home. He also had the meth lab on one of his properties a while back while two of his kids where living on the property and none of them knew what was going on "I think not", they knew and probably profitted from it. It all went away so quickly though. His corner market started out very small and now is massive yeah done with all the taxpayers money no doubt. He also sells food in the back with no city permits wow average citizen try to do that! He is as crooked as they get. The one city council man Artiga does not even live in the city he lives in Chino Hills. For Bell he list his church address as place of residence. Do you really belive he lives in a church. What fools we have been they all must be driven out tonight. NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

— Angry at the City Council
July 26, 2010 at 1:46 p.m.

I am truly disgusted by what has happened to the City of Bell although not surprised.. This is a true lesson in government. PEOPLE WHO CAN VOTE MUST VOTE.. Latinos vote and support their own because we see them as part of our family.. BIG MISTAKE-- A POLITICIAN IS A POLITICIAN. At the moment of elections they will say anything and everything you want to hear... They are out to protect their own interest not the PEOPLES! We need to send a message RECALL ALL OF THEM!!!!!

— Bell Citizen
July 26, 2010 at 1:40 p.m.

Politicians wonder why we don't trust them - things like this; passing legislation that benefits them, not necessarily us! I hope the Atty. Gen'l. does find something that can be litigated and they lose their pension! Or maybe CalPERS can find something that would negatate it - ARRGH!!!

— Nancy
July 26, 2010 at 1:25 p.m.

It's the voters of the town who let this happen -- the one council member who earns a more reasonable stipend, as opposed to a salary -- was APPOINTED to his position, NOT elected, per the news reports. That's why he receives less. The high salaries, both of the officials who have been let go -- and remember these people were paid employees of the council, they were hired -- and of the council members, were essentially approved by the Bell electorate. You don't vote, you don't get to have a say... that's the American way. The lesson to be learned here is not just "know what is going on" but vote, and know what you are voting about and for. It doesn't matter what your political party is, Libertarian, Democratic, or Republican-- what matters is whether you are an informed voter. The residents (cannot say citizens, because apparently all are not citizens)of Bell have learned a harsh lesson in democracy. Second guessing and protesting after-the-fact may net some resignations, but only a fresh election can truly change the way this little city is run. A recall election would be in order.

— Cynthia
July 26, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.

I moved to Bell in 1940 at age 4. I grew up in Bell, attended Corona Ave. and Bell High School. The citizens were mostly white with very few Hispanics. I love the City but it has changed. I served on he Bell Polie Department and retired in 1979. I think that the entire Bell Police force should be dissolved and the LA County Sheriff's should take over police service for the City much like the Bell Fire Department went to the County years ago. I don't believe that the crooked officers should get any pension and all of them fired.

— Leonard Frank Blake
July 26, 2010 at 12:10 p.m.

The "south of the border" mentality of "scamming what you can" of politicians, police, and plain citizens permeates the southeast cities of Los Angeles County.

— dse
July 26, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.

I'm reminded of the movie, "Wall Street" where the main character states, "Greed is Good." That seems to be the norm when people of power and position can write their own rules. I also wonder how people can sleep at night when they know they are nothing more than thieves... but I imagine they sleep well in their big expensive houses. Their role models must be the bank barons who pay themselves huge bonuses even when losing money.

— Mike Nelson
July 26, 2010 at 11:37 a.m.

I'm disgusted.

— E Martinez
July 26, 2010 at 10:57 a.m.

City of about 35,000 population. Unfortunately, residents are passive (including yours truly) here with low education level. The crooks took advantage of this. Protests are planned tonight!

— bell resident
July 26, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.

This is another example when Hispanics prey on their own,,,,the majority of that City does not even vote and most of the folks that came to protest cant vote either. We as a people have lost control of our destiny. Why complain and put so much energy about other states, when we cant control ourselves. Greedy crooked people and the most corrupt was the Chief of Police who should have known better. All in all the voters of Bell are to blame for this fiasco.

— Dennis
July 26, 2010 at 10:41 a.m.

Does anyone remember Albert Robles and South Gate? Sorry, but the common theme is a city with mainly Hispanic immigrants who seem to pay no attention. Perhaps they EXPECT corruption? If so they are going to pay a heavy price.

— redroaster
July 26, 2010 at 10:22 a.m.

While I don't condone the greedy nature of the people involved in this I am more fearful of the immense power of the press and how they have gone after these people with a full court press. I have to wonder if anyone else has ever left a job to increase their wages and benefits or are these the first humans to do this. Or perhaps no one but me thinks it odd that the picture consistently used to frame this story has been a 6 month old booking photo of the soon to be ex-City Manager. Seems to be if that was important we should have seen it 6 months ago when it was perhaps news? Can you say manipulation?

Scares me to see the frenzy worked up by the media. Today it is greedy politicians who or what next? I only hope they don't decide that people who drive trucks or perhaps vote a certain way are the enemy and bring their power down on them.

Back to the problem at hand and greedy politicians. Seems to be that since the beginning of time we have known power breeds corruption at different levels. Why do we always act so surprised when we find out humans are greedy and powerful ones get to be the greediest.

And of course last I wonder if someone approached a reporter or editor from the Times and said I need a big city reporter for my little hometown newspaper would you be interested? I will pay you triple your salary( we will just raise the cost of the paper ) because you are good and I need your experience for my paper. Why do I think they would run without looking back and think nothing of it.

— LH
July 26, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.

Bell is the tip of the iceberg. Is it any wonder that we no longer trust the government? Corruption exists at every level and it is a rare politian who can maintain their integrity while in office. We need to impose term limits and salary caps at every level. Pay increase should only occur when the voters approve it; look at the idiots in Sacramento who give themselves raises while the rest of struggle. Finally, create stricter sanctions and mandatory jail terms on those who cheat the system.

— Alan
July 26, 2010 at 9:16 a.m.

It's legalized theft. Why didn't the public know? They should be indicted if only to set an example. No public employee in America should have a salary more the the President of the U.S.

— george
July 26, 2010 at 9:05 a.m.

The LA Times' reporters should get the Pulitzer Prize for this story. No question about it. Two more questions for them: (1) These public servants reportedly are entitled to lavish pensions, but who pays those pensions - just the poor people in Bell, or all the California taxpayers? (2) When neighboring City of Maywood laid off its police department, under the watchful eye of interim City Manager Angela Spaccia and an interim City Attorney, both of whom unaccountably were on loan from Bell, was this to avoid the Attorney General consent judgment?

— Matt
July 26, 2010 at 9:03 a.m.

We Latinos, like everyone else have to stay on top of municipal governments to make sure this does not happen again.

— James Rojas
July 26, 2010 at 8:38 a.m.

They are all guilty of corruption. They should be prosecuted and sent to prison with their pensions rescinded.

— Jim
July 26, 2010 at 8:26 a.m.

Thank you LA Times for exposing this. We've seen pictures of the City Manager and the Police Chief. Why hasn't the Times published a picture of the Assistant City Manager? Gender bias? Get her photo up too...Let the world see the third partner of the corupt axis....

— doxie
July 26, 2010 at 8:13 a.m.

Bell means that the people there are a bunch of saps, they have been taken for a ride by the Mayor.. They should clear City Hall of all the politicians and elect new ones. Also take away the big pensions away from the scumbags especially the Mayor, the city manager and the rest. How in hell can this be happening in America?

— Joseph
July 26, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.

Nobody has bothered to look into the large piece of property off the 710 Freeway growing weeds on it that Bell owns. Ratso Rizzo has left a huge hole that the City will lose millions on. The City is insolvent and nobody knows!

— SickandTired
July 26, 2010 at 7:29 a.m.

every city, county, school district and state job have a very high payroll for the upper staff workers. you would be shocked if anyone ever did a study on this. all directors, supervisors, personal managers,and so on have a very cushy pay with car allowances and extra days for management leave. city of bell thanks for standing up maybe others will follow.

— joseph
July 26, 2010 at 7:24 a.m.

Good for them (protesters) it's about time they do something about it. I hope other cities do the same because most of calif. state employees are full of corruption. They tell u what u want to her so u can vote for them and afterwards they forget who put them up there, No wonder the state is doing so poorly financially. It might be time for Schwartznager to step in and do a salary audit, he is some one that u can actually trust, being that he deeply cares for the entire state at least he did back when he was first elected and I used to live in L.A. want to know what the saddest thing is? Most of those high paid individuals are Hispano descendents why I am not surprise!!!!!needless to say: That's the main reason why most of us came to U.S.A. because our country is and has been back from the 1970's full of selfish, corrupted and careless presidents and governors therefore, we had to leave, to try to survive and get an education yes, get an educatiaon because Mexico does have student grants but again, they are distributed among them (top goverment employees who make millions of pesos) instead of the ones that really need them and deserve them, how do I know this? I've lived it.

— Amalia Torres
July 26, 2010 at 6:39 a.m.

I'm wondering about more situations like this around the country. The next time Prez Obama speaks out about "fat cats on wall street" and "CEO pay" he better make sure he looks at the state local govt that he is the leader of. This is gross and despicable.

— T Hammac
July 26, 2010 at 6:38 a.m.

What this all means is that the voters best wake up.Read your ballot and vote.

Don't ever take a vote for granted. Remember the majority vote rules.

— Bill
July 26, 2010 at 5:46 a.m.

Did any look at Congress pay? and how long did they have to serve to get life long pension? even if they committed crime?

— Lisa chiu
July 26, 2010 at 5:35 a.m.

There is no way any Bell gardens resident should put up with all this Bull;legal action should be considered by federal goverment. All should be relocated behind bars........

— Hector
July 26, 2010 at 4:40 a.m.

Since when are council members treated like city employees? I think council-members need to be sent to Sacramento when elected and trained/educated on their duties. I don't think these numb-skulls even knew what they were doing.

— CC
July 26, 2010 at 1:54 a.m.

Bell is a symptom..the problem is the alliance between the Democrats and the GOP in Sacramento with the Public Employee Unions...this has have to stop...a host can only support so many parasites.

— Al Salas
July 26, 2010 at 12:42 a.m.

This nothing but a criminal act by these bunch of crooks!!! This is clearly a RICO case that needs to be pursued and put these clowns behind bars. And of course void their exorbitant pensions along with a bunch of other cities doing the same crap. Stealing from the public in the name of public safety!!!

— bc
July 25, 2010 at 11:52 p.m.

There are a lot more Bell's out there... Corrupt Cities such as S. EL MONTE. The scandal there is larger than in Bell. The City of S. El Monte is corrupt, is in bed with a supermarket chain and development companies.

They should be the next ones to be investigated!! Thank you L.A. Times and John and Ken Show (KFIAM 640)

— David
July 25, 2010 at 10:32 p.m.

I think it is criminal .Public official in a city of that size ,getting those salaries.I bet there are not even 100,000 people in that city . Typical politicians robbing people blind.

— Terry H.
July 25, 2010 at 9:21 p.m.

This is political corruption, plain and simple! California cities do not have to certify their budgets, unlike many states, so it is easier to hide this kind of thievery. There is no oversight, no transparency. Budget items are left up to the discretion of the City Council, City Manager and Mayor.

I hope the Attorney General is able to prosecute these criminals and recover some of the City of Bell's funds. Also, the ridiculous pensions these individuals are "due" should be stripped away...ill gotten gains from the commission of a crime!

— S. Wisse
July 25, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.

I was raised in the Bell area back in the 50's and 60's, sad that such a nice little town has gone downhill.. To go downhill and then to have officials taking from the residents is a sad thing..

— Wayne Bates
July 25, 2010 at 4:19 p.m.

This is symptomatic of many small cities and there should be a listing of the salaries of the part-time mebers of city councils and the City managers for all to see. Many of these cities are really fifedoms. One of the biggest problems are these "special elections" that are deliberately designed to prevent people from knowing what is going on or even know there is an election. In addition, I hope they are looking into possible criminal actions by the Bell Council and Ratso. I will bet there have been kickbacks

— Sara
July 25, 2010 at 3:55 p.m.

This will spell the end of public pensions. The greed of these pigs (The entire local govt of Bell, Bob Citron, Mike Corona, etc.) will spell the end of pensions for public servants - many of whom deserve it. But it was the CA govt itself which allowed this to happen. I hope public employees now enjoy the mediocrity of 401(k)s and Wall street. It will be all that's left.

— Athena
July 25, 2010 at 2:49 p.m.

Feds need to get involved!! Follow the money, investigate the initial voter registry for the election that started it all!! Most of the people in Bell don't know what an absentee ballot is.

— Bellres
July 25, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.

It takes two parties to arrive at a salery. Those who accept it and those who offer it. Please name those individuals who offered it.

— Ernie Black
July 25, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.

Was there any resident of Bell who bothered to pay attention to what was

going on in their city hall? Didn't

anyone care?

— Ken
July 25, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.

Welcome to the Tea Party, LA Times!

— unclesmrgol
July 25, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

Porous borders, sanctuary cities, population that is 90% Mexican, low voter turn out, civic disenfranchisement. . . And we wonder how this happened? One thing is for certain, we will reap what you sow.

— Kevin
July 25, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.

Thankfully, that these crooks were caught. But, what changes will be made? Like many of these cities there has been a huge demographic shift and many of Bell's population are illegal. Just imagine if the poulation were citizens and voted regularly? Did you think this scandal would have happened? Immigrants (legal or illegal)are hesitent to get involved and they have no roots to the city. Not until one becomes a citizen does one feel that feeling of "it's your country."

— Debbie
July 25, 2010 at 8:30 a.m.

This should be a lesson to everyone. Know what is going on in your city/town. The wrongdoings in Bell have been exposed, but what about in your city/town?

— Take a Look
July 25, 2010 at 8:16 a.m.

Next time, vote republican,they're at least less greedy.

— Charlie
July 25, 2010 at 5:58 a.m.

Bells great financial status shows they have been doing something really well. While almost all the other cities in California are in the hole! Maybe they should consult with Bell, so they can provide all the great services we get here in Bell. Soccar league with 3000 kids and baseball league with 800 kids. and much much more. I love my city of Bell

— Erika Lopez
July 24, 2010 at 11:30 p.m.

Good to see Rizzo out but the City Council knowingly went along with his salary scheme, benefitted from their own $100K salaries and did NOTHING to stop it until the Times report. Now they are trying to save their jobs?? Enough is enough!!! It's time for them to go. RECALL!!!

— Jason
July 24, 2010 at 10:32 p.m.

It's disgusting!!! with all the misery people are going through. They should be in prision!!Jerks!! What a shame, that money should have been used on helping families not for some jerk-offs paycheck...........

July 24, 2010 at 9:19 p.m.

We moved to Bell when I was 5 years old in 1977. I clearly remember the day my family and I moved into a tiny apartment on Bear Avenue. I attended Corona Avenue Elementary. After school, I would go to the corner store the Mayor has owned since the 1980's. My twenty five cents bought me a little yellow bag with some candy and a little toy. I would happily open my yellow surprise bag to see what treats I would enjoy. Mr. Hernandez used to sell candy to elementary school age children. To my surprise he's now the Mayor of Bell. I suppose the yellow surprise bag I used to buy at the corner store the Mayor still owns was full of surprises we've all yet to discover.

— Marina
July 24, 2010 at 9:02 p.m.

The City of Bell's mayor and council members need to be criminally charged for misuse of public funds. I love that Steve Cooley goes after dirty politicians which include: Mayor Oscar Hernandez, the other Bell city councilmembers, Antonio Villaraigosa and the rest of of thiefs out there that .

— Bell student
July 24, 2010 at 7:37 p.m.

This appears to be an instance of city government officials conspiring immorally -- if not illegally -- to line their own pockets. Unprecedented arrogance and greed.

— Len Iwanski
July 24, 2010 at 7:33 p.m.

This is not limited to Bell, CA. It is happening across the state and our country. Check out the compensation database published of Mercury News.

Although not to the same extent, our public servant compensation is getting to be ludicrous. Nobody questions that the compensation has to be reasonable. As it stands the public servants are making more than what private sector employees make if you include the long term benefits.

This problem is not limited to public servants. University of California professors and administrators are also being compensated the same way. They are not required to teach every quarter or semester either!!

We are no different than Greece! God bless America.

— Sam
July 24, 2010 at 6:38 p.m.

I am a retired county nurse. I have worked for the county for 30 years. Many higher officials get merit raises while we are lucky that we get a cost of living raise. For the past 15 years private hospitals have courted nurses by offering them stipends and cars--yes cars-to join their hospital. But the County of Los Angeles only has its life long pension. I am now making 1/2 of what I did as an active nurse. Luckly I have a part time job to make some of the loss up. And yes, I pay money for my health insurance/ You know Medicare is not free. $110.65 per month if I keep at this rate . Otherwise I pay $220.00 per month for my Medicare. Who do you think is getting taken-a county employee or the public?

— retired Nurse
July 24, 2010 at 6:33 p.m.

Kudos to the residents of Bell, CA! In 2004-5, residents of Highland Park, MI, booted out their overly paid officials, too. Combined, the three top officials brought in by Gov. Granholm were paid nearly $1 million per year! Check out the documentary trailer on it at

— Sylvia
July 24, 2010 at 3:47 p.m.

As a retired public servant (Ventura County)I am absolutely disgusted that something like this can happen when so many people are hurting and out of work. There is NO excuse for those outrageous salaries including that of the councilmembers. They probably got paid 8K here an 8K there from other budgets so that no one saw just how huge their "part time" council salaries were. Shameful and a terrible bruise for all public servants to live down. If I had any say, I would do everything in my power to halt their lucrative retiremnt PERS pensions!

— Penny Bohannon
July 24, 2010 at 3:14 p.m.

Maybe the feds will get involved,and try them all for racketeering....that way all their assets will be frozen and they can do a few years in jail.....

— Ron
July 24, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.

By the looks of Rizzo's weight, his "life long" pension plan doesn't seem like it would last so long.

— Jeff
July 24, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

Wow! I wish I had boss like Mayor Oscar Hernandez who would throw money at me just because I am such an awesome employee! Despite the resignations of Bell's city manager and top cop, this Mayor continues to VEHEMENTLY defend their salaries. Hey Mayor, take the advise of my third grade teacher who busted me on a lie, "When you find yourself in a hole - stop digging."

— 3rd Grade Wisdom
July 24, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.

I don't mind paying someone a lot of monedy as long as I perceive that I am getting something of value in return. However a point is crossed whereby there is little or no value but, rather, you are now actually taking from me. It now seems that this generation of leader elected leaders have a skewed perceptions of what it means to serve the public interest...I aM talking about all levels of government; we deserve the governments we get...Bell is a representation of problems that are systemic to the current reality

— donald
July 24, 2010 at 11:04 a.m.

I am one of the very few to have been born and raised in Bell, but I don't live there now. The residents are hard working blue collar people and they have been robbed. These officials need about 20 years in jail to show that there is justice and to restore confidence in Bell and our judicial system.

Same goes for US officials Greenspan, Paulson, Bush, Obama, et al. The AIG "bailout" was just a simple insurance fraud of over 200 billion dollars ! But they dressed it up by using terms like derivatives - the whole nation is a bunch of informed people, just like Bell.

— Wayne
July 24, 2010 at 10:58 a.m.

This is the product of situations when the city residents don't involve themselves in the choices their representatives are making. As long as no one is paying attention to these politicians they'll go around doing whatever they want.

— Arturo
July 24, 2010 at 10:40 a.m.

This is what happens when there is no media in your town to cover the issues. I've issued invitations to our two Bay Area U.S. Senators to spend a week driving around Los Angeles before going back to Washington. Maybe if they had, these kind of stories might have been uncovered by their staffers.

The gerrymandering of California voting districts by our state legislators is responsible for the lack of a two-party system in most of these communities.

Just look up California's 23rd Congressional district and tell me why they call it the "ribbon of shame" or "the district that disappears at high tide"?

— P.J. O'D
July 24, 2010 at 10:11 a.m.

well, I guess more than 400 people will vote next time. Remember this was voted on by the citizens of Bell in 2006. I agree that the politicians took advantage of the lack of care of the bell residents, but maybe this will mobilize this city.

— susan
July 24, 2010 at 9:59 a.m.

I think I detect notes of racism in some of these comments. Immigrant or native-born, few of us read the small print during elections. Nevertheless, it is monstrous that these corrupt officials would take so much from the hard-working people of this small blue-collar town. Unfortunately, it is nothing rare that people in privileged positions do take advantage of their position for their own selfish ends. I hope that something can be done about their obscene retirement benefits.

— Ed
July 24, 2010 at 9:14 a.m.

The press should find out why one council member was paid much less than the others (Perhaps he/she is not part of the 'family')?

— Andrew
July 24, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.

If your a politician, it's been a lucrative place to live. This is only the tip of the glutenous iceberg, other cities are no different, Bell is just in the spot-light for now. It should all be revamped from the Govinator on down. When is enough enough? This is why America is in the mess it's in, GREED.

— Dakin
July 24, 2010 at 8:19 a.m.

this is just typical of power leading to corruption. they are not the only city with this kind of abuse going on. lets hope every city delves into the pay structure of all employees since this has been uncovered. we need to get all the incumbents out of control and put in some new people. eventually they will be corrupt as well, but then we can vote them out. i think the key is not to let them get to comfortable and stay too long.

— mary
July 24, 2010 at 8:03 a.m.

Disgusting,those corrupted officials shhould be removed and punnish,it shows that human nature in politic doesn't matter how good they talk or promise just a jokes.They only care for theirself and covered up by good talk

— charlie
July 24, 2010 at 7:27 a.m.

It's ridiculous! State, county and city employees are having to cut hours, benefits and even losing their jobs and the City of Bell City Council alone are getting $100,000/year for only meeting twice a month!!! All city council members and commission seats should not get paid at all. They have their own full-time jobs. They were voted for their positions. If anyone should get paid, it could be the mayors for showing up at certain events that go on in their city's such as grand openings, beauty pageants, etc. but not that much money. They also have/had full-time jobs before they were elected to the position they hold on the city council bench. Same goes for parks & recreation commissioners, and so on. It's a joke. What these people think that they are a gift from God and they should get paid for giving their ideas and views? Give me a break!

— tipster
July 24, 2010 at 6:34 a.m.

Rizzo was a "player" from the start,as he was in Hesperia, and he manipulated the entire situation to his advantage by cutting the Council in on the goodies. It is corruption driven by greed on all sides. But it should be an object lesson for everyone to pay attention to what is going on in your community!! In this case, Mr Rizzo also took advantage of the fact that most of his constituents are poorly educated, uninformed, and wary of government at all. There must be some way to prevent him & his cronies from walking away with equally exhorbitant pensions now! That is the next crime, and one that will keep on sucking the lifeblood out of this small city for years to come!! Rizzo's arrogance only makes it all the worse...what a disgusting, pathetic human being!

— Meg
July 24, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.

Bell is a sanctuary city so, why is anyone surprised at the way the city officials conduct themselves? It's just business as usual for politicians south of the border.

— mitchellson
July 23, 2010 at 7:59 p.m.

Those monsters should go to the Hell. They took advantage omnipotence, omniscience, and omnivorous all money from the vulnerable immigrant citizens.

— Bell's citizens
July 23, 2010 at 7:58 p.m.

I am in the business of compensation and people should not be a surprised to find such extreme cases. If people look hard enough they will find similar cases in all types of businesses, private, public, etc. In my business nobody turns down money.

— Comp Consultant
July 23, 2010 at 7:50 p.m.

The people who wrote the charter knew

what to do to get around the rules for pay, nobody ever reads the small print,

you trust the people in goverment to work for you, instead they work for themself. It's all about me. You go get your.

— Marco
July 23, 2010 at 5:47 p.m.

I think these people took advantage of the ignorance of the mostly immigrant population of this city, who's only crime is to trust their fellow citizens. I say fire them all!!!

— Armando Garcia
July 23, 2010 at 4:41 p.m.

My great grandparents were some of the original settlers of Bell (they were there before Bell incorporated in the 1920's and I have to say if they were alive today they would explode.

I remember when I was little (I'm 49 now), Bell was a very nice quiet town where everything worked and no one in the city government made more than an average wage.

— Marc
July 23, 2010 at 1:23 p.m.

They are just as crooked as Wall Street firms that helped send the world into financial chaos

— Joyce Price
July 23, 2010 at 11:19 a.m.


is a city in the Southeast region of Los Angeles County.
The neighboring communities are Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood and Vernon.
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