Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Anchored by Melissa Bell  |  About  |  Get Updates:  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed

Bell, Calif.: The tale of an overtaxed city

Resident Dan Harber yells at Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez at the first City Council meeting since Hernandez and three council members were arrested on corruption charges. (Jason Redmond/AP)

No, I am not writing this post because I just found out there's an entire town named after my family in California. (Okay, probably not my family, but stay with me here.)

I am writing this post because the city officials in Bell are under investigation for running the town for the past 10 years as their own personal cash register.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Bell's former city administrator, Robert Rizzo, and seven other current and former officials were charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors earlier this fall with multiple counts of corruption, mostly related to efforts to conceal their outsized salaries. All have pleaded not guilty. Rizzo was set to earn roughly $1.5 million in compensation this year.

While the rest of the state languishes in economic turmoil, the council in Bell arbitrarily charged small-business owners tens of thousands of dollars each year for permits and guaranteed sales tax revenue.

If a business failed to come up with the money, it would be threatened with closure or made to pay the difference.

Again from the Times:

In one instance, a tire shop owner paid at least $144,000 over a four-year period, according to city records. Another tire shop owner was required to pay $13,000 a year.

California auditors have also determined the city unlawfully taxed residents, many of whom earn low incomes.

Unsurprisingly, the City Council faced an angry crowd of residents at its first meeting since the arrests. One of the few orders of business the council was able to attend to was agreeing to a recall election in March, when voters can decide if the council members under investigation should be removed from office.

Wow, Bell. Way to do the family name proud.

By Melissa Bell  | November 2, 2010; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is Google polluting the Internet?
Next: Elections 2010 questions: #AsktheFix

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company