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CRISIS IN BELL

How Bell hit bottom

Robert Rizzo seemed right for the town -- until he became an 'unaccountable czar.'

December 28, 2010|By Christopher Goffard | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

In a place where so many feel betrayed, a renewed commitment to fair dealing seemed the need of the moment, and so the association's first directors were asked to step forward. Up came the men and women who run the tire and bail bond shops, the boxing gym, the meat market and the restaurants. They crowded the stage and raised their right hands, solemnly promising to perform their duties honestly.

At one point, Anthony Miranda, the acting police chief, took the stage and announced that the Police Department had made more changes in the last three months than in the previous six years.

"When we come out of this, we're not going to be gold or silver -- we're gonna be titanium as a community!" Miranda said. "Untouchable!"

Cheers greeted his speech. The reception was chillier for interim City Administrator Pedro Carrillo, who has moved his furniture into Rizzo's old office, hung the bare walls with pretty satellite pictures of the city and promised openness and accountability.

The people of Bell, he told the crowd, would rise together or fall together. The remark elicited boos. From a different speaker, it might have rung out as inspirational, a call to solidarity. But many in the audience didn't trust Carrillo. He had worked at City Hall under Rizzo, after all, and reminded too many people of his ghost.

christopher.goffard@latimes.com

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