The Bell Scandal

Topics: Local government in the United States, Democracy, City Pages: 2 (563 words) Published: September 28, 2012
The City of Bell Scandal

The story of the City of Bell scandal is one of corruption and deceit where top city council officials are the perpetrators and the residents, their victims. The city of Bell was a prime and easy target for Robert Rizzo, Bell city manager, and several other city officials, including some within the Bell police force. This small town in the County of Los Angeles has a population of less than 40,000, and over the past decade there has been a substantial decrease in public awareness. Rizzo strategically embarked on a mission in 2005, to make the City of Bell a charter town. This went virtually unnoticed as only 4% of the residents voted. This allowed the city to be exempt from new government legislation, creating an open playing ground for the corrupt city manager. In a short time, he would seek every avenue of illicit revenue that would pad the already enormous council salaries; eventually bringing city official payrolls to a staggering number. The residents of Bell were charged with outrageous property taxes, business taxes and permits, unwarranted citations and countless other city induced fines. This scandal was a correlation of the lack of resident involvement in local government to the political avarice that overtook this small community. This scandal was broken wide open in 2010 by the exemplary work and investigation of two L.A. Times reporters, Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb. They exposed the illicit corruption that was happening in the city of Bell, which led to the resignation and indictment of city officials. It also laid ground for many new bills, which are being implemented, that will protect citizens from this type of corruption. Within the city of Bell a new found interest and awareness in local government is on the rise; though the percentage of voters is still small, it is up to roughly 40%. The citizens have organized a group called BASTA, Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which means "enough" in Spanish. This...
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