The city of Bell has a bill for legal services that is four times higher than budgeted
By: Isaiah Alvarado
Having a bill in the mailbox of $ 1.1 million for legal services, four times over budget, has sparked a new controversy in the government of Bell, that is still trying to shake the wake of corruption left by the previous administration.
Everything has come to light by financial reports requested by Vice Mayor Ana Maria Quintana, which reveal that not only exceeded the spending cap in that area, but widened the deficit to a municipality whose financial problems have yet to be quantified .
Until May, the city of Bell had a debt of $ 674,000 with the law firm of Aleshire & Wynder, after making a verbal agreement not to charge that amount pending the outcome of lawsuits that could generate income to the City.
At the end of the 2012-2013 cycle, the law firm has accumulated estimated a fee of about $ 1.4 million, although the City of Bell only approved spending $ 300,000 in that period. Its total budget is nearly $ 12 million.
Quintana claims that had to delve into the tax records of the municipality and ask for reports to come up with these numbers, which she considers inappropriate for a town that is away from the era of the administrator Robert Rizzo, who became the highest paid public official country.
"In a city that is in the process of transparency this type of negotiation is not permissible," Quintana told La Opinion. Why are we paying so much? The costs are astronomical. The city is being a credit and we do not even know what it is, that's the problem, how are we going to pay, with what interest rates, to date, I do not know" said the official.
Far from worrying about the debt, two of her colleagues and City Manager Doug Willmore, thank the law by charging fees freeze. "That spending of over a million dollars in legal agreements will be obtained and people will see that it was a wise decision," said Willmore.
The mayor of Bell, Violeta Alvarez explains that the fees have climbed the 66 complaints that the government has faced since 2011. "We have claims from A to Z and we can still invent the alphabet letters. There are many claims that are almost about to be resolved, where we have the possibility of financial reward," she said.
Councilman Ali Saleh trusts that the money will come and not have to resort to a plan B. "I have faith that we will emerge from this," he said.
A lack of own attorney before the corruption scandal, the city of Bell hired in July 2011 the firm Aleshire & Wynder (which also has contracts with the municipalities in Carson, Lynwood and Bellflower) for legal advice and attend the wave of complaints, investigations and audits that blew the doors of the town, populated mostly by Hispanics.
David Aleshire, the firm’s representative, denied that there is an additional charge for Bell and said even lowered the rate on your first year of service. "We take on the risk of not collecting that money. We’re part of the team that wants to see justice in this community," he said.
For Denisse Rodarte, spokeswoman for the Association to Stop the Abuse in Bell (BASTA), which emerged group Mayor Alvarez and Councilman Saleh, Quintana's complaint is part of a "political dispute."