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Community News: Southeast

BELL GARDENS : Council Scraps Plan to Hire Ombudsman

June 06, 1993|JILL GOTTESMAN

A plan to hire an ombudsman to investigate residents' complaints about city employees has been abandoned by the City Council, after an advisory panel split over what the ombudsman should do and who should be selected.

The position was suggested in March by Councilman George T. Deitch, who said he wanted to employ a person at City Hall--preferably someone bilingual--who could impartially handle residents' allegations of mistreatment by city staff.

The council allocated $200,000 for the position and appointed a six-member committee to look into hiring an ombudsman and a staff.

Acrimony grew among panel members in the past month, however, and the group gave the council two conflicting proposals.

Some committee members wanted to create a nonprofit community resource center, administered by the ombudsman but staffed by law students and social workers. Under this plan, the staff would have helped residents with questions about their civil rights, public aid, transportation, health care and landlord-tenant disputes.

However, other committee members wanted to appoint an ombudsman who would hire a staff and draw up a budget independent of city officials. Under this proposal, the ombudsman would have been a watchdog, keeping an eye on council members, administrators and other City Hall employees.

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