The City of Bell scandal is the largest local government scandal in the history of the state of California. The scandal raised critical questions about local government finances, law, citizen engagement, and media coverage. The lessons of the Bell scandal need to be understood by all if similar scandals are to be prevented.
Join us on Thursday, February 19, 2015 in Argyros Forum 209 ABC, 9:15 a.m. – 5 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Kennedy Hall 237AB, to hear from expert panelist regarding this scandal at the, “City of Bell Scandal Revisited” conference.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: “Corruption on steroids” is what Los Angeles District Attorney Steven L. Cooley called the scandal in Bell, California, a working class community of 35,000 people in Los Angeles County. City Manager Robert Rizzo was being paid a total of 1.5 million dollars in wages and benefits; and the assistant city manager Angela Spaccia and police chief Randy Adams were making more than 1.5 million dollars in salaries and benefits—grossly more than their counterparts in neighboring cities. Both Rizzo and Spaccia received lengthy prison sentences and were ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution. Adams was forced to resign. Also, Bell’s city council members who received $100,000 a year salaries—grossly more than what other city council members make–pleaded no-contest to criminal charges. They also agreed to pay the city a total of nearly 1 million dollars in restitution. “Bell” is also the story of rebirth and renewal of a city battered by scandal. It is the story of an unlikely coalition of first generation Hispanics and Muslims– political amateurs all—who successfully fought to restore transparency and democracy to their community.
What can we learn from the Bell fiasco? What’s broken and how can it be fixed? What are Bell’s lessons? Was the scandal in Bell unique? Or, did Bell lay bare problems that may be present in other local municipalities. On February 19, an eclectic group of local government “watchers”–journalists, citizen activists, elected officials, and academics will come together for a day to shed some light on these questions. In addition to their presentations, many of the panelists have written white papers which will be published on a website which will serve as a repository for the scandal.