City of Bell Remains Willing to Negotiate with Attorney General's Office
Los Angeles, CA – The City of Bell ("City") has not stepped away from the bargaining table regarding the Court-Appointed Monitor as suggested by the California Attorney General's office.
The City’s top administrator and its city attorney remain interested in working with the Attorney General’s office to fix Bell.
To that end, however, neither the Interim Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Carrillo nor Interim City Attorney James M. Casso have the unilateral authority to make decisions regarding the Court-Appointed Monitor or settlement of the Attorney General’s lawsuit. The City Council is the only entity that has the authority to make decisions relating to the Court-Appointed Monitor as defined under the Bell City Charter and state law. "Mr. Carrillo and I refuse to repeat mistakes of the past by usurping authority from the City Council. We’ve repeatedly told the Attorney General that we cannot agree to their proposal, only the Council has that authority," stated Casso.
"The City also has repeatedly requested that the Attorney General drop the City as a named defendant in its complaint. Mr. Carrillo and I have always been willing and remain willing to work with the Attorney General to address and repair the problems facing the City. We just want to do it without having to engage in the expensive and time-consuming civil litigation process. All of the duties entailed in defending a lawsuit will take precious resources away from the City. It will detract from what the City really needs to do right now, which is to restore the confidence of the citizens of Bell in their city government and forge an effort to lead the City back to self-sustainability," said Casso.
As a part of this goal, the City has taken significant steps towards opening Bell’s government and making it transparent. For example, the City Clerk's Office established a website with access to current and archived Council meeting agendas, minutes, and other public documents; the City has established a public records request form so the public and the media can easily make requests for copies of public records; the City has processed more than 165 public records requests; received and responded to numerous subpoenas from the District Attorney and the Attorney General's office; City Council meetings have been conducted in facilities other than Council Chambers; and Mr. Carrillo and Mr. Casso have met with community groups and employee organizations. All of these proactive efforts have been taken to ensure honest and open government.
“For too long Bell was the poster child for flagrant violations of the most basic provisions of California’s Public Records Act. We are doing our best to make Bell the model of transparency and Mr. Carrillo is committed to restoring fiscal viability of the City’s operations,” said Casso.
“Gone are the days of outrageous salaries and retirement benefits. The City Council and Mr. Carrillo have taken the affirmative and necessary steps to change the way business in Bell is conducted and to restore order,” Casso concluded.
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James M. Casso
Interim City Attorney, City of Bell