Bell,Bell, City From Hell

September 13, 2010

The city of Bell has already received plenty of bad press lately over salaries the city managers paid themselves in the midst of the Great Recession. Meanwhile, one in six of the 40,000 city residents live in poverty.

Now, the Feds have gotten involved. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the investigation focuses on “whether Bell officials violated the civil rights of Latino residents by aggressively towing cars and charging residents exorbitant fees to get their vehicles back.”   Bell has a large Hispanic immigrant population.

An organization named Basta (Bell Association To Stop The Abuse) has created a web site and blog to shine light on the rampant corruption in their city. Basta means “enough” in Spanish.

According to the article, Federal officials are also looking into complaints about other ways the city tried to boost revenues, including through aggressive code enforcement, the sources said.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has started an investigation which also includes questionable loans to city officials and possible voter fraud.

Back in July, the California Attorney General’s Office announced its own investigation into the (ridiculously)high salaries being paid to city officials. Former city manager Robert Rizzo was paid nearly $800,000 for his services. He has resigned as a result of the investigation.

It turns out he has more legal trouble, though.  In late August he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.  I wonder if the police towed his car and then hit him with a nice towing fee?

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