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Judge again delays decision on appointing Bell monitor

The city fails to provide a list of candidates for financial overseer because the council does not meet on the issue. The state attorney general's office submits three nominees.

November 24, 2010|By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times

A Superior Court judge Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to appoint a monitor to watch over the troubled city of Bell after city leaders failed to provide a list of potential candidates for financial overseer.

With one council member sick and another having resigned, the five-member City Council was unable to meet last week to review a list of possible candidates for the monitor's job, according to city officials.

Pedro Carrillo, Bell's interim chief administrator, said the mayor was sick and the remaining council members did not ask to hold a council meeting.

The city has been battered by scandal in recent months and eight former or current city leaders have been charged with misappropriation of public funds — including all but one of the current council members.

The state attorney general's office, which has sued the city as well as current and past city leaders to recover taxpayer money, has asked the court to appoint a monitor to oversee the city's finances and day-to-day operations.

In postponing his decision a second time, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert H. O'Brien asked lawyers for the attorney general's office why their office wants a monitor. The state attorneys told O'Brien they want to create transparency and openness in the city and prevent any future wrongdoing.

If the court appoints a monitor, O'Brien will have to determine the extent and range of the person's powers.

O'Brien requested that the city submit a list of candidates by Dec. 3.

Jamie Casso, Bell's interim city attorney, said a special council meeting will be scheduled next week and a list of names would be presented to the council for approval.

The state submitted its list of candidates Tuesday.

The potential monitors submitted were Steven Gourley, who served as director of the Department of Motor Vehicles and previously was mayor of Culver City; David Pasternak, a state and federal receiver and bankruptcy court custodian; and Robert Mosier, who has been a court-appointed fiduciary in state, federal and bankruptcy court cases.

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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