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Bell residents rage against city council

August 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tensions were on the rise Thursday night in the city of Bell. In the wake of a city-executive salary scandal, angry residents are making plans to try and oust four more city council members. Some residents confronted attorneys Thursday night who were trying remove documents from city hall. It's the latest chapter in a scandal that's made headlines nationwide, and led to demands for reform.

At Thursday night's meeting of the Bell Residents Association, residents said they saw something unusual. It was after-hours but documents were being removed from the building.

Residents surrounded a vehicle. They had been staking out city hall and confronted someone taking out a box allegedly containing documents. They wanted to know why.

The person explained he was part of the new law firm hired to sort out the city's financial mess.

There is a lot of distrust in the city, and residents want to clean up city hall.

Several hundred residents gathered Thursday night to figure out a way to get rid of four city council members who are refusing to resign.

The controversy started last month when the salaries of a number of city officials became public. The city manager made nearly $800,000 a year, the assistant city manager was paid just over $375,000 a year and the police chief had a salary of more than $450,000.

Now there is an investigation to see if city council members broke any laws.

One resident worries that some people might be trying to destroy documents and evidence.

Angry residents say they didn't know city officials were doing this. That's why state officials are getting involved, working on new legislation to prevent this from happening in the future.

"There's a section that is about transparency," said state Assemblyman Hector de la Torre (D-South Gate). "Obviously a big part of the problem here was that the people didn't know what was going on at city hall."

Residents are planning a rally this weekend to tell those four city council members that it is time for them to resign.


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