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Voting Makes a Difference in California

Updated on March 17, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Voting Helps in Richest, Poorest and Angriest US Cities

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.

The George 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 George 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

The Year of Major 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.

A
Bell California:
Bell, CA, USA

get directions

B
Los Angeles River along I-710:
Interstate 710, CA, USA

get directions

How does a council member from a working class community, where the median income was $30,000 a year, afford to drive around in a $100,000 Mercedes Benz?

— Building BASTA, by Cristina Garcia

Across the nation in Columbus, Ohio a similar scandal brewed and was not discovered until June 2015.

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 from the media temporarily, but he eventually became mayor.

What about the Bell City Council?

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

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

  • BASTA | The Bell Association to STOP the Abuse. Cristina Garcia is a co-founder of BASTA and has been a member of the California State Assembly. http://studylib.net/doc/8221747/basta--bell-association-to-stop-the-abuse--was-started-on... Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  • Bell California. Watch Our City News in the Public Interest: The focus i son Southeast L.A. County cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate, and representative agencies of L.A. County, LAUSD, State Assembly and Senate. www.watchourcity.com/ Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  • For residents of impoverished, defrauded Bell, Calif., it's payback time. Christian Science Monitor. The little city of Bell, Calif., became a symbol of greed and failed government when it was found that city officials had awarded themselves huge salaries. www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0308/For-residents-of-impoverished-defrauded-Bell-Calif.-it-s-payback-time Retrieved March 5, 2018.

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.

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 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. | Source

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.

A
Veteran's Memorial Park, Bell CA:
Veterans Memorial Park, 6500 Wilcox Avenue, Bell, CA 90201, USA

get directions

B
Gage Avenue, Bell CA:
East Gage Avenue, Bell, CA 90201, USA

get directions

C
Maywood Riverfront Park:
Maywood Riverfront Park, 5000 Slauson Avenue, Maywood, CA 90270, USA

get directions

Chumash Nation

Stan Kenton: Born In Bell CA

Local Education and Training for Good Jobs

The Vote Helped People and Jobs Development

High Demand Needs in the Job Market

The ratio of unemployed individuals to the number of open jobs is 1:1, or a job opening for every person. High Demand Industries include:

  1. Retail & wholesale trade
  2. Travel, hospitality & tourism
  3. Healthcare

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 significantly 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.

Map of Bell California's Largest Job Centers

A
Bell CA:
Bell, CA, USA

get directions

B
Los Angeles CA:
Los Angeles, CA, USA

get directions

C
Downey CA:
Downey, CA, USA

get directions

D
East Los Angeles CA:
East Los Angeles, CA, USA

get directions

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

Largest Numbers of Job Listings

  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 specialty areas and Nurse Practitioners
  9. Physical and Occupational Therapists and Assistants
  10. Aerospace Engineer Technicians

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      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.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      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.

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image

      AllSuretyBonds 

      7 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks very much!

    • profile image

      keish_777 

      7 years ago

      Patty, that was very informative, and easily understood.

    • profile image

      computer guy 

      7 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.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

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

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

    • profile image

      Harvey Stelman 

      7 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?

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 

      7 years ago from Florida

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

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      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!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 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 imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      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!

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      7 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?

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