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  • The everything Bell thread

    Hey guys, since this is an intersting topic, and since there is a lot of good info being put out on this in various threads that I know we would hate to miss;

    for example five from so cal under the Pomona thread wrote;

    We were told today by alot of different ranking people that Bell is almost a done deal. Possibly as soon as Aug 1. I could see something like that happening with all the drama going on over there.

    I thought instead of talking about this one topic on 5 different threads why not create a new and improved everything about Bell thread? Now we dont have to read 5 different threads to get info on this one topic. I dont care if its about how much their employees make, or what their pensions will be or what will happen to the officers or even John and Kens visits there. One stop shopping for everything Bell. like the COSTCO of Bell. It is after all a tiny city, one thread covering all Bell related topics should suffice.

    So moving on, if you care and are wiling to go along with my anal retentiveness on this issue, here is what I thik about Bell officers maybe losing their job;

    The officers at Bell were fighting a valiant fight, proactively getting the word out and letting everyone know it was in retaliation, for their alleged whistle blowing. A claim I am skeptical of frankly, but what the heck, its not like the Times can deny the PD was their source, since they cant divulge their true source.

    But with the new info that the officers were assisting with the 400-person election scam they may be going down.

    Now officers can do precinct walks off duty and can, as a volunteer, do voter registration. The issues will be how much pressure did they use and can it be perceived as coercion? And, of course, did they really see dead people?

    If they used too much pressure or if they registered the undead, then they are now in the mud right along with everyone else. This is a classic criminal organization, get everyone muddy so no one can rat.

    A lesson to any officer, don't let your corrupt city council drag you into their corruption. I am sure it was just a couple of guys, but they just screwed themselves and everyone else.

    Very sad.
    Originally posted by FJDave
    GM, you have just set the bar that much higher for the rest of us in our witty, sarcastic responses. I yield to you! Good job, kind Sir!

    District B13
    "We are not cops nor Feds." yet he still poses as an officer Hmmmm


    Grant us grace, fearlessly, to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression.--WWII memorial

    "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

    Pope Gregory V II

  • #2
    Bell residents paid huge tax bills in addition to huge salaries, records show

    Bell did more than just give top city administrators some of the largest salaries in the nation: Residents in the working-class town also pay the highest property taxes of all but one of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities, according to interviews and records.

    All county property owners pay 1% general property tax, along with special or direct assessments levied by their municipalities. The countywide average of all tax rates is 1.16, or $11.60 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

    Bell’s rate is 1.55% -- nearly half again as much as those in such affluent enclaves as Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes Estates and Manhattan Beach, and significantly higher than just about everywhere else in Los Angeles County, according to records provided by the county Auditor-Controller’s Office at The Times request.

    That means that the owner of a home in Bell with an assessed value of $400,000 would pay about $6,200 in annual property taxes.The owner of the same home in Malibu, whose rate is 1.10%, would pay just $4,400.

    The only place with a higher rate for residents is the City of Industry -- but that city has only 21 residential parcels that are affected.

    The records seems to confirm complaints by some Bell residents who expressed outrage that they seemed to be paying exceedingly high taxes at the same time as the City Council was paying the city manager nearly $800,000 and council members were paying themselves nearly $100,000.

    “I didn’t realize we were so unique here in this little community,” said Dorothy Danna, 68, a widow who has lived in Bell for 40 years and is losing her home to foreclosure. “I thought everyone paid as much as we did. . . . That does not make me very happy.”

    Bell, a largely immigrant town of about 39,000, owes its lofty rate to a combination of factors, records show, including bond debt and a “retirement tax” approved by local voters in 1944 that put property owners on the hook for some of the cost of municipal employees’ pensions. Since 2006, county records show, those local taxes have doubled. So have direct assessments for trash collection, sewer maintenance and other services, which also have driven residents’ tax bills higher.

    The Times reported earlier this week that the city had cut spending on police and community services, even as it continued to raise salaries for City Manager Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams to some of the highest in the nation.

    Adams' salary was $457,000 and Spaccia's was $376,000 before all three resigned amid the public uproar created after The Times reported the amounts earlier this month.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't know how far residents are going to get with the property tax issue. Many cities have huge assessments. I wonder if Bell's assessments equal a 1.55% rate or if they have 1.55%, plus lots of assessments.?. I think the reporter should have checked on that.

      Come on out to the Inland Empire, where a property tax rate of 1.75 to 1.9% is common. A friend of mine just bought a house for $145k in San Jacinto. His taxes are about $5k a year. Seems like a bit much to me.
      Ignore List----DAL

      "but I warranty you that I’ll be a better candidate than a kid that just got out of high school and self-sponsor himself."...Just another brain surgeon who's looking for a cop job on Officer.com.

      Comment


      • #4
        It makes sense for the tax rates to be higher in poorer communities where property values are lower. Lower property values mean that a higher tax rate is required in order to generate the same amount of income.
        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by velcrostripes View Post
          I don't know how far residents are going to get with the property tax issue. Many cities have huge assessments. I wonder if Bell's assessments equal a 1.55% rate or if they have 1.55%, plus lots of assessments.?. I think the reporter should have checked on that.

          Come on out to the Inland Empire, where a property tax rate of 1.75 to 1.9% is common. A friend of mine just bought a house for $145k in San Jacinto. His taxes are about $5k a year. Seems like a bit much to me.
          You can't compare the IE. In the IE you have new communities that have additional tax assessments (mello roos) for building infrastructure such as roads and schools. Mello Roos taxes are a way for the builders of housing communities to avoid paying for the roads themselves, instead they go to the city and ask for a special assessment to cover those costs over a 30 year period and screw the home owner instead.

          In the City of Bell as well as most of the LA area, new housing communities are vitually non existent, so Mello Roos tax don't exist. The taxes that the Bell residents are paying are to fill the coffers of the politicians, which is a lot different.

          The state property tax rate is 1% and most communities have a small additional assessment for utilities and such which brings the average to around 1.25%, but 1.5% is very high for any place in metro LA.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Reservetobe View Post
            You can't compare the IE. In the IE you have new communities that have additional tax assessments (mello roos) for building infrastructure such as roads and schools. Mello Roos taxes are a way for the builders of housing communities to avoid paying for the roads themselves, instead they go to the city and ask for a special assessment to cover those costs over a 30 year period and screw the home owner instead.

            In the City of Bell as well as most of the LA area, new housing communities are vitually non existent, so Mello Roos tax don't exist. The taxes that the Bell residents are paying are to fill the coffers of the politicians, which is a lot different.

            The state property tax rate is 1% and most communities have a small additional assessment for utilities and such which brings the average to around 1.25%, but 1.5% is very high for any place in metro LA.
            But it's their own fault right? Hasn't that been your argument all along. Its not Rizzo or Adams or any of them, place the blame where it belongs right? On the citizens of Bell.
            Originally posted by FJDave
            GM, you have just set the bar that much higher for the rest of us in our witty, sarcastic responses. I yield to you! Good job, kind Sir!

            District B13
            "We are not cops nor Feds." yet he still poses as an officer Hmmmm


            Grant us grace, fearlessly, to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression.--WWII memorial

            "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

            Pope Gregory V II

            Comment


            • #7
              Just heard yesterday from someone "in the know" that the Bell POA was working on disclosing the salary info because the city was gonna cut the dept due to finances. There was an officer, that I also know that snitched to the council and the rest is history. Since now the council knows where the leak came from, they are seriously talking about disbanding the dept as payback. Can someone say Union Busting?
              God made perfect cops.......The rest he put in cars.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Garbage Man View Post
                But it's their own fault right? Hasn't that been your argument all along. Its not Rizzo or Adams or any of them, place the blame where it belongs right? On the citizens of Bell.
                That is correct.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Garbage Man View Post
                  But it's their own fault right? Hasn't that been your argument all along. Its not Rizzo or Adams or any of them, place the blame where it belongs right? On the citizens of Bell.
                  What citizens? Are the people who live in Bell citizens?

                  I feel very strongly that, from an equitable perspective, the City Council had a fiduciary duties to the residents that it breached by agreeing to the terms of the contracts for senior officials, and to their own contract salaries. And the City Manager breached is fiduciary duties in agreeing to the terms of the contracts for those whom he hired. In the business world, similar acts would almost certainly result in lawsuits against the directors (councilmembers) and chief executive officer (city manager).
                  Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                  Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DAL View Post
                    What citizens? Are the people who live in Bell citizens?
                    LMAO.

                    Originally posted by DAL View Post
                    I feel very strongly that, from an equitable perspective, the City Council had a fiduciary duties to the residents that it breached by agreeing to the terms of the contracts for senior officials, and to their own contract salaries. And the City Manager breached is fiduciary duties in agreeing to the terms of the contracts for those whom he hired. In the business world, similar acts would almost certainly result in lawsuits against the directors (councilmembers) and chief executive officer (city manager).
                    I agree with you, and I believe the Citizens have a civic responsibility to properly vet their council members. When you only have 300 to 400 people voting out of some 15 to 20 thousand registered voters, that is complete and utter voter apathy, and they deserve what they get.

                    The City Manager was there for some 15 years, and you tell that this only came to be known now? I hardly doubt that any of this corruption is new.

                    I have said it before and I will say it again, the voter are at fault, and the city council is at fault because they approved these ridiculous salaries.

                    I don't blame the Police Chief for taking the job, he has been a Chief of Police for many years, and was well respected in Glendale and Simi Valley.

                    I think law suits may come in this case too.

                    An no, I am not related to anyone in Bell.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If the City of Bell were a publicly-traded corporation, it would have to file an annual report that disclosed its financial condition and the compensation for its directors and officers, and send copies to its shareholders. I can easily get far more information about the corporations in which I own stock than in any municipal corporation. To get this information from a municipality, you have to serve a California Public Records Act request. More information has to be forthcoming voluntarily.

                      As for Randy Adams, he is a well-regarded and talented police chief. However, I think that anyone in his position would have suspected that something was ethically questionable about the deal he was being offered, and would have realized that the level of compensation would interfere with his ability to lead the department, when the city was cutting back on officers because of a budget deficit.
                      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DAL View Post
                        If the City of Bell were a publicly-traded corporation, it would have to file an annual report that disclosed its financial condition and the compensation for its directors and officers, and send copies to its shareholders. I can easily get far more information about the corporations in which I own stock than in any municipal corporation. To get this information from a municipality, you have to serve a California Public Records Act request. More information has to be forthcoming voluntarily.

                        As for Randy Adams, he is a well-regarded and talented police chief. However, I think that anyone in his position would have suspected that something was ethically questionable about the deal he was being offered, and would have realized that the level of compensation would interfere with his ability to lead the department, when the city was cutting back on officers because of a budget deficit.
                        If you are trying to argue that private business is as open as California local governments than you are crazy. My salary was posted in the local newspaper last year. I'm a line employee not even a supervisor. Find a company that does that. Just because one corrupt small town gets away with it for a short time doesn't mean it's common.

                        Many cities have their salary scale posted online. In the corporate world that is highly secretive information.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nobodyjr View Post
                          If you are trying to argue that private business is as open as California local governments than you are crazy. My salary was posted in the local newspaper last year. I'm a line employee not even a supervisor. Find a company that does that. Just because one corrupt small town gets away with it for a short time doesn't mean it's common.

                          Many cities have their salary scale posted online. In the corporate world that is highly secretive information.
                          That is not what I am saying.

                          First of all, I am talking about publicly-traded companies, not private businesses.

                          Second, the businesses I am talking about provide specified information about officers and directors to shareholders even if the information is not requested. They send it to me in the mail, as well as post it online. And they provide audited financial statements. Moreover, the compensation disclosed goes beyond salary to include other forms of compensation, stock options, deferred compensation and some perks. You are not in a position analogous to an "officer or director" of a public corporation.

                          That your local newspaper took the time to ferret out and publish information about salaries of municipal employees does not mean that this information is at the fingertips of voters. Why should I have to buy a newspaper to get the info rather than just go to the municipality's website?

                          I also doubt that your local newspaper explained all the benefits that the city manager and police chief received, or explained the terms of their contracts. In the case of Bell, the value of the pension benefits (a form of deferred compensation) far exceeds the inflated salaries.

                          Yes, this information can be obtained with a California Public Records Act, but few people get it, especially for the thousands of smaller cities throughout the state.
                          Last edited by DAL; 07-31-2010, 12:00 AM.
                          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                          Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            League of California Cities pushes for public disclosure of salaries

                            By Ryan Lillis
                            [email protected]
                            Published: Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010 - 12:54 pm
                            Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010 - 5:01 pm

                            Officials with the League of California Cities said today they are interested in crafting state legislation that would require information on the pay of all highly-compensated public officials on the state and local levels to be made easily available to the public.

                            The move follows a salary scandal in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell.

                            The Los Angeles Times has reported that the city of Bell's city manager earned nearly $800,000, the highest salary of any government manager in the country. The city's police chief made $457,000 and an assistant city manager took in $376,288. All three resigned under public pressure.

                            As a result, the League of California Cities has taken the unusual step of admonishing one of its own.

                            At a meeting in downtown Sacramento on Thursday, members of the League of California Cities lambasted Bell officials and expressed concern that city officials across the state would be the focus of public outcry as a result of the scandal.

                            "What we've seen is that there really has been a violation of the public trust," said Ken Pulskamp, the city manager of Santa Clarita and the president of the League of California Cities' City Managers Department.

                            In a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, the league offered to help craft legislation that would publicize the pay of the highest-paid public officials in the state. League representatives have also contacted Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate, about the legislation.


                            Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/29/292...#ixzz0vEUwZImG
                            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bell's business ties to officials probed

                              L.A. County D.A. examines the city's $4.6-million purchase tied to a former politician.

                              The city of Bell has a pattern of doing business with current and former city officials, including an ex-mayor who served time in federal prison, according to interviews and records obtained by The Times.

                              In the most recent deal, Bell's Community Redevelopment Agency last year paid $4.6 million to purchase property from a family trust of longtime politician Peter Werrlein, who was sentenced to three years in prison in the 1980s for holding hidden interests in a poker casino.

                              Despite his criminal record, Werrlein worked for the city as a consultant at least into the 1990s.

                              Werrlein also was executor for the estate of legendary Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen.

                              The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is examining the sale of Werrlein's Western Auto property, David Demerjian, head of the district attorney's Public Integrity Division, said in response to a Times inquiry.

                              "We're looking at whether the city overpaid for that property," Demerjian said.

                              "That's not necessarily illegal, but if they did, we'd want to look at whether any money was kicked back."

                              The City Council approved the sale with one dissenting vote by a councilman who balked at the price.

                              The investigation of the purchase is one of several involving Bell politicians and administrators, focusing primarily on their unusually large salaries. Three top city administrators stepped down last week, including City Manager Robert Rizzo, who made nearly $800,000 a year.

                              The Werrlein transaction is among a number of financial entanglements involving City Hall and municipal leaders.

                              Six years ago, the city Housing Authority bought a house from Oscar Hernandez, who is now the mayor, and his wife, according to county records.

                              The city has not released records that show the amount paid for the house, the reason it was purchased, whether Hernandez took part in the decision or what the city did with the property.

                              Attempts to reach Hernandez were unsuccessful.

                              In another case, the Community Redevelopment Agency purchased property owned by the Steelworkers Oldtimers Foundation, a social services organization run by George Cole, a former councilman. Details about that 2004 transaction have not been released.

                              It is not illegal for cities to do business with elected officials. However, state conflict-of-interest laws require that the officials involved have no role in the decision-making and that the city not make deals that amount to a gift of public funds to the officials.

                              The Oldtimers Foundation also holds a $38,000-a-month city contract for Dial-A-Ride services to provide transportation to senior citizens, according to Cole.

                              He said in an interview that the foundation got the contract about 15 years ago and that it was approved when he was on the council. He said he recused himself from the vote.

                              Cole described the cost of the Dial-a-Ride contract as reasonable for a service that he said ferries about 25,000 passengers a year. That ridership would work out to an annual cost of about $18 per passenger.

                              Cole defended the city acquisition of the Western Auto property, which he voted for during his final term on the City Council.

                              Cole said the city already owned land around the property and wanted to assemble enough to rebuild a key business corridor along Atlantic Avenue.

                              "It was a pretty important commercial piece of property," Cole said.

                              But former Councilman Victor Bello said he had voted against the deal because he thought the price was too high.

                              Werrlein said Friday that $4.6 million was a good price for the city and that he had been offered as much as $5 million by a drugstore chain. He also said his personal history was irrelevant. "I never committed any real — what I would call — crimes," he said. "At least I didn't steal from the people."

                              It's unclear what the city plans to do with the roughly 30,000-square-foot property, which is vacant. According to county records, the city purchased it from the Pete Werrlein Children's Private Annuity Trust.

                              The district attorney's office is just beginning to examine the deal. Demerjian said that in the patchwork of small cities in southeast L.A. County, such deals among a small cast of characters are far from uncommon, raising concerns about conflicts of interest.

                              "We do see cities hiring the same city attorneys and the same developers coming in," he said.

                              "It's OK for a city to do business with a council member if it's truly done at arm's length. But it's hard to fathom a scenario where there doesn't tend to be a conflict of interest," he said.

                              Werrlein has been a prominent and controversial figure in Bell over the last 4 1/2 decades, serving on the City Council from 1964 to 1980.

                              He was voted out of office after a grand jury finding that he, along with other political figures, had attended sex parties with teenage prostitutes and convicted Hillside Strangler serial murderers Angelo Buono Jr. and Kenneth Bianchi, The Times reported at the time.

                              Werrlein had testified that he tried to set up a liaison with one of the prostitutes but that it never happened. In an interview with The Times back then, Werrlein denied engaging in any sexual activity but said that he saw Buono sitting next to a "blond, attractive, well-built woman who looked like she was in her early 20s. She might have been a prostitute. I don't know."

                              Five years later, Werrlein was sentenced to prison for holding hidden interests in a Bell poker casino, along with the city's then-administrator, John Pitts.

                              Prosecutors said the two had conspired to form a secret partnership with investors to create the gambling enterprise through city ordinances; in return, Werrlein and Pitts would receive controlling interest in the casino.

                              Prosecutors submitted an FBI tape recording of a conversation between Werrlein and a government informant: "It wasn't to glorify the city and, uh, bring the city $3 million per year," Werrlein said of his involvement. "It was to fatten our pockets."

                              Werrlein was incarcerated for 10 1/2 months. After his release, the city hired him as part of its effort to reopen the Bell casino. Rizzo, who became city manager in 1993, said at the time that Werrlein would "monitor" the casino and report to him.

                              Werrlein's involvement with the casino raised eyebrows from one official at the state Department of Justice, who told The Times in 1993 that it was "a red flag for us. I don't know why the city would take the risk."

                              Cole, however, stood behind Werrlein, saying his criminal record was a plus, not a minus.

                              "Sure, it sounds crazy," Cole said in 1993. "But is it any crazier than hiring a convicted burglar to teach people how to secure their houses against break-ins? He knows how to spot loan-sharking, he knows how to spot skimming, he knows how to spot rip-offs."

                              The casino opened two years later, but closed after only seven months.

                              In 2006, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies in Running Springs, responding to a burglary alarm, discovered a small casino — complete with slot machines — in a home belonging to Werrlein.

                              He pleaded guilty to "playing gaming" and was sentenced to two years' probation and a fine, according to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
                              Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                              Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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