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Scandal costs driving city to insolvency

Jan. 28, 2011 at 10:05 AM

BELL, Calif., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The scandal-plagued city of Bell, Calif., is in desperate financial straits aggravated by legal bills, its manager says.

"The city has reached a financial crossroad," interim chief administrative officer Pedro Carrillo wrote in a report cited by the Los Angeles Times. "While the recommendations set forth in this report require difficult decisions to be made, without these actions, the city will likely be forced into insolvency."

A Los Angeles County audit predicts a $2.16-million deficit at the end of the fiscal year in June, but Carrillo said one-time costs, including legal fees from the salary scandal, could double that figure.

Wrenching financial choices may be made by councilmen facing felony misappropriation charges. Corruption charges have been lodged against eight current or former leaders, including all but one council member.

Thursday's council meeting on drastic cuts -- including disbanding the police -- was suddenly canceled when Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo failed to show up. Councilman Lorenzo Velez said Jacobo had been hospitalized and Hernandez called in sick.

The city has not had a real city council meeting since November. Jacobo and Hernandez walked out of December's meeting, cursed by irate residents.

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