In the wake of the Bell salary scandal, our readers noticed one part of the story has been left out by virtually all media sources, including our related editorials and columns: the political party affiliations of the five city council members who not only failed to protect city coffers, but participated in what amounts to shameless, if apparently legal, self-dealing.
All five council members are members of the Democratic Party.
Bell made national news last week when residents angrily protested after learning through published reports of the exorbitant pay of its city manager, $787,637 annually, and the chief of police, $457,000. Robert Rizzo was possibly the highest paid city manager, or chief administrative officer, in the nation. Part-time city council members – part time! – were paying themselves about $100,000 each. Both the city manager and police chief resigned.
Bell is a poor city; its per capita income is about half the national average. Bell also is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Of the 9,918 registered voters, 6,193 are registered Democrats and there are more decline-to-state voters (1,760) than there are Republicans (1,289), according to the Registrar of Voters.
Democratic Party members represent Bell voters in every level of government. At the federal level Bell is represented by Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard. The city's state assemblyman is Hector De La Torre and its state senator is Ronald S. Calderon, both Democrats.
Bell's city council is made up of five elected members: Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo, and council members Luis Artiga, George Mirabal and Lorenzo Velez. According to our review of voter registration records, Ms. Jacobo, Mr. Artiga, Mr. Mirabal and Mr. Velez are registered Democrats. There are multiple voter registration records for the name Oscar Hernandez, but Mayor Hernandez has endorsed a number of Democratic candidates, including most recently Hector De La Torre for Insurance Commissioner in the June 8 Democratic Primary and Luiz Marquez, a candidate for the 50th Assembly District Democratic Primary.