Election Year - Voting Makes a Difference in California

Voting Helps in US Cities: Richest, Poorest, Angriest

I've been reporting on local attractions and the numbers and types of jobs available in cities and towns named by Forbes.com, BusinessWeek, and other publications as America's richest, based on individual and household incomes. Some of these places are pretty interesting.

Many of these towns are in Southern California in or adjacent to Los Angeles County. At the same time, one of the poorest towns is located in the middle of the rich. There, one out of every six residents earns below the federal poverty line. That's roughly 17% of the population of Bell, California.

The poorest, angriest residents of Bell took action against their poverty by voting to replace corrupt officials. Since then, their lives have improved and so has the city.

James George Bell Founded the City of Bell North of Los Angeles

The Bell Family moved to this place in 1876 from Los Angeles, and the town was named after them in 1898. It became a city in 1927.
The Bell Family moved to this place in 1876 from Los Angeles, and the town was named after them in 1898. It became a city in 1927. | Source

2011 Was a Year of Corruption

In the autumn of 2010, a scandal came under fire as three of the Bell city leaders awarded themselves huge bonuses in spite of the high poverty level in their town.

On Tuesday March 8, 2011 - Mardis Gras Day as well - the voters of Bell had their chance to change leadership, as reported in the New York Times on March 9, 2011:

"Residents of the scandal-riddled City of Bell, Calif., have ousted their entire city government."

According to this article, a landslide vote replaced all of City Council, including the only person not implicated in the scandals of 2010. Voting seems to work in this community.

However, the new council was forced to dedicate itself to budget cuts and other actions to maintain city solvency.

Across the nation in Columbus Ohio, a similar scandal brewed and was not discovered until June 2015. You see, Red Light Cameras for issuing moving violation tickets were outlawed in 2015 by the Ohio Supreme Court. The cameras presented several problems, including a lack of accuracy. At the same time, a local elected official, Andy Ginther, announced he would run for Mayor. Next, news surfaced that the company that had been behind the Red Light Cameras had allegedly bribed Ginther to help keep them active for many years. Ginther disappeared.

What about the Bell City Council?

The city handled its problems and was not forced to dis-incorporate and revert to county land.

Bell, California Votes and Takes Action

In the City of Bell, BASTA (Bell Association to Stop the Abuse) was proud and happy when the Grand Jury found a guilty verdict for the Bell Six, who were corrupt local elected officials.

Bell, California Scandal

Voting Does Make a Difference

In reporting the local government scandals, the Los Angeles Times put a story on their front page about Bell.

The paper told how the city manager, Robert Rizzo, earned $787,637 annually and the police chief received $457,000, while the assistant city manager was paid $376,288.

This seemed inordinate for a town of 36,000 people with about 4,800 people subsisting in poverty - over 13% of the people were poor.

Audits found graft among the Mayor and Vice Mayor as well, with another violation on top of all that - overtaxing people and businesses by about $5.6 Million. At the time, officials had the opportunity to go to prison or to get away scot free with large pensions. A Grand Jury indictment ended the latter possibility.

Meanwhile, the Bell city clerk's news website reported that $3,000,000 of the wrongful taxation money was already refunded in 2011. In the US Census2010, the population had grown to 37,800. about 6,400 in poverty, or 17% of the populace in poverty. Poverty had worsened, in part because of the white collar crime of the City Council.

The city website stated:

Bell believes that introducing core values to children at a young age promotes lifelong integrity.

The Grand Jury helped those children believe in integrity. Higher voter turnout and the replacement of city government is a good start to living up to that ideal as well. The people of Bell voted out the entire City Council and replaced all of its members, with no further corruption evident date.

In Columbus, Ohio Andy Ginther will probably not run for Mayor after all. If he ran for the nomination, voters would probably deny him the privelege. Despite many improvements under the administration of Mayor Michael C. Coleman, many children still live in poverty. Secret bribes to city officials unbeknownst to the Mayor did not help those children.

Voter Accomplishments

After installing a new Bell City Council and improving working operations, a local transit system emerged that provides low cost monthly passes. A Taxi Service for Seniors ages 62+ and disabled individuals is a wonderful addition. The city is dedicated to Sustainability and Greening as well. The city has a whole menu of requirements for Transparency in government. Bell is a different city today.

Controversies in Voting Behavior
Controversies in Voting Behavior

Voting by citizens can accomplish a variety of achievements that increase the quality of life in the city, state, and nation. Voting does make a difference.

 

Bell, On the Los Angeles River

show route and directions
A markerBell California -
Bell, CA, USA
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B markerLos Angeles River along I-710 -
Interstate 710, CA, USA
[get directions]

C markerLong Beach CA -
Long Beach, CA, USA
[get directions]

The photo above is by Andrew Hart via Flickr; CC by-sa 2.0. It shows the Los Angeles River between Bell/Bell Gardens and Los Angeles. It has produced some small islands and fish. In fact, the river has become a draw for fishermen along several portions of the revitalized riverfronts.

Los Angeles River Communities

The Los Angeles River draws many visitors and increases the Tourism Industry. It flows roughly alongside many portions of Interstate 710 to the Pacific Ocean.

After flooding incidents threatened communities along this river around Bell and Bell Gardens, the US Army Corps of Engineers built concrete walls to contain it during The Great Depression. New initiatives have developed to preserve the local riverfront from Los Angeles to the ocean and the river communities are becoming more tourist friendly as a result - many folks did not know about the Los Angeles River previously. At one point, portions of it were little more than a concrete gutter drain-off. Today, local families and visitors enjoy the riverfronts along its banks.

Bell's East Gage Avenue, from the center of the city at the Bell Palm Plaza mini mall reaches the river to the east beside I-710 in just under a mile, passing by the Veteran's Memorial Park. Maywood Riverfront Park is a mile to the north. Cudahy City Park on the river is about a mile-and-a-half to the south.

show route and directions
A markerMaywood Riverfront Park -
Maywood Riverfront Park, 5000 Slauson Avenue, Maywood, CA 90270, USA
[get directions]

B markerVeteran's Memorial Park, Bell CA -
Veterans Memorial Park, 6500 Wilcox Avenue, Bell, CA 90201, USA
[get directions]

C markerGage Avenue, Bell CA -
East Gage Avenue, Bell, CA 90201, USA
[get directions]

Los Angeles County Native Americans: Tongva and Chumash

Chumash Nation

Stan Kenton: Born In Bell CA

High Demand Jobs in Bell

The ratio of unemployed individuals to the number of open jobs is 1 to 1, or a job opening for every person. High Demand Industries include 1) retail & wholesale trade, 2) travel, hospitality & tourism, and 3) healthcare.

Bell California and Largest Job Centers

show route and directions
A markerBell CA -
Bell, CA, USA
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B markerLos Angeles CA -
Los Angeles, CA, USA
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C markerDowney CA -
Downey, CA, USA
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D markerEast Los Angeles CA -
East Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Jobs and People

Aggregated job listings from all Internet sources show over 135,000 job listings within 25 miles of Bell. In a poverty stricken population, transportation can be problematic; but local and connecting passenger transportation has improved among the ricer communities since 2011.. Within 5 miles of the center of the City of Bell are an average of 6,000 to 10,000 jobs advertised on any day.

Over 42% of adult residents have completed high school or higher education and the largest portion of the workers from Bell are employed in Production, Manufacturing, and Transportation. Truck Driving is increasing signigicantly here as it is across the nation,

Amid the poverty, two-thirds of the homes are rented and the median home price is over $291,000, in a range similar to the wealthier places in this area of Southern California and Los Angeles County.

Listings for 30,000+ Jobs in the Bell Area

Top Hiring Companies

  1. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  2. UCLA and UCLA Health
  3. Local Trucking Companies
  4. Accountemps
  5. Cybercoders.com - IT
  6. Keck Medical Center of USC
  7. Kaiser Permanente Health
  8. St. Francis Medical Center
  9. Michael Page
  10. Search One
  11. Travel Nurse Solutions
  12. DirectEd Educational Services

Best Jobs In the Area of Bell

  1. Truck Drivers - CDL Licenses
  2. Sales representatives
  3. Retail Salespeople
  4. Store Managers
  5. Account Executives
  6. IT Engineers
  7. Food Service Shift Supervisors
  8. Nurses (RNs) - Several Specialties and Nurse Practitioners
  9. Physical and Occupational Therapists and Assistants
  10. Aerospace Engineer Technicians

© 2011 Patty Inglish

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Comments 14 comments

Fay Paxton 5 years ago

I would imagine Bell has lots of openings, since half the population is in jail.:) Why on earth are the home prices so high?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Haha - seems like it (jail). That's a good question about costs, Fay! Cost of living is higher in California than the national average, but this poor town is hit hard with high housing $$. I'm going to look at osme of the houses on Zillo and Trulia and see what's up with that. Thanks for commenting!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

"The paper told how the city manager, Robert Rizzo, earned $787,637 annually and the police chief received $457,000, while the assistant city manager was paid $376,288."

Unconscionable...and jaw dropping.

Excellent hub filled with well-researched and interesting info, as usual.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Genna, I was completely disgusted when I read these figures and happy that the voters rallied and the law caught up with these perpetrators. I hear that the officials all pleaded Not Guilty. Anxious to see what plea bargain or or full sentence they may receive. Not wise to return to Bell, though, imo.

Thanks for your post!


susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

Good research. It is amazing how much money goes to the top and no trickle down!


Harvey Stelman 5 years ago

Patty, You are an excellent writer that lays everything out so it can easily be understood. You did leave out some job that should be available, City Management Positions. Should I write, ha?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

susannah41 - Yes, it's all been trickle UP there!

Harvey - You could do a better job than any 3 of those wiseguys.


computer guy 5 years ago

Great research it is just to bad that this is a recurring story from small town and cities right up to the government and beyond. Sad the authorities don't put much emphasis on this type of crime because they are doing the same thing in a lot of places; not all places but a lot. Thanks for the story.


keish_777 5 years ago

Patty, that was very informative, and easily understood.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks very much!


AllSuretyBonds profile image

AllSuretyBonds 5 years ago

Nice Hub. Did you ever find out why the pricing of homes is so high? These figures are very disturbing.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I can't find any reason for it, yet, except for proximity to other begts with expensive housing. There could be the possibility of absentee landlords. Not sure yet.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Looking at ZILLOW, the highest-priced home is over $1.3 Million, with 14 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. The lowest prices house out of 241 homes is $309,999 for 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.

Median price in the last 12 months = $485,000+.

Rents on rental homes available right now are nearly $2000/month.

It's higher cost of living and some rich people, but lots of poor people.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I wish they would do them same over here. At least they done something about it.

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