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Bell may get new council sooner than expected

March 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time since a corruption scandal rocked Bell, the embattled city may be getting a new city council much sooner than expected.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed emergency legislation Monday night, allowing the newly elected Bell City Council members to take office.

The city has been without a functioning government since voters recalled its previous officeholders March 8. Eight former officials have been ordered to stand trial on charges that they illegally padded their salaries to excessive amounts.

A judge has ordered a restraining order, barring those officials facing criminal charges to keep out of City Hall and conducting city business.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will certify the election - not the officials facing criminal charges.

"It's absolutely a mess that the new council cannot go to work because of the old regime," said councilmember elect Nestor Valencia.

Valencia said Bell will need a lot more special help going forward.

"We're in such a mess that we'll probably go back to the legislature and ask for more legislation on behalf of the city of Bell," said Valencia.

Voters say they're excited that their will is finally being heard.

"Looks like things are about to change. It's a new year. Hopefully things can go up from now," said Bell resident Chris Cordova.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is slated to meet next Tuesday to certify the election, meaning a new Bell City Council could be sworn in by next Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.