Group Collects Signatures For Bell Recall Campaign
BELL (CBS/AP) — The hits just keep on coming in connection with the salary scandal in Bell, where a recall campaign is expected to begin this weekend.
Council members Friday unanimously voted to subpoena any city records that may be on the private e-mail accounts of its former city manager, whose nearly $800,000 annual salary sparked fraud investigations in the small Los Angeles suburb.
The council also voted to cancel a contract to oversee neighboring Maywood, which could be forced to shut down as a result, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Maywood’s City Council voted in June to disband its police force, lay off most of its 45 city workers and pay Bell $50,833 a month to take over operations for the city, leaving it with just two full-time employees and a part-time elected City Council.
“The decision that the city of Bell has taken will have a crippling affect on the city of Maywood’s ability to provide services to residents,” Maywood’s interim City Manager Lilian Meyers told The Times. “At this point, our option is to close the doors or bring in independent contractors very quickly to provide minimal services.”
Bell Interim City Manager Pedro Carrillo told the newspaper the decision to cancel the contract with Maywood was due in part to the scandal over the huge salaries paid to its top officials, possible election fraud and other improprieties, which are being investigated by the Los Angeles County district attorney and California attorney general.
The city found itself in the national spotlight after The Times reported four council members were paying themselves nearly $100,000 a year for part-time work and their city manager was making nearly $800,000. Several other city employees also received high salaries.
The city manager, police chief and assistant city manager all resigned last month shortly after the scandal broke.
A group calling the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse issued a statement Saturday night praising several City Council actions, including the cancellation of the Maywood contract and a decision to sue former city administrators, consultants and attorneys for actions that led up to the scandal.
BASTA also announced that signature gathering for the recall of City Council members will begin this weekend and that interim City Attorney Jaime Casso sent a letter to council members saying he believes the recall and new council elections should be held at the same time.
BASTA also announced the addition of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union to the coalition.
“I was raised in the city of Bell and have a stake in the community,” said Cheryl Parisi, executive director of AFSCME Council 36. “More importantly, as AFSCME, we want to make sure that the abuse of rank-and-file Bell city workers ends.”
BASTA is made up of Bell residents, the Bell Police Officers Association and AFSCME Council 36.
(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)