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Bell City Council meeting canceled after two lawmakers fail to appear

January 27, 2011|Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

A City Council meeting in Bell during which lawmakers were to consider disbanding the Police Department was canceled Thursday night because of a lack of a quorum.

Residents in the scandal-blighted city had packed the council chambers in anticipation of the meeting.

But Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo failed to appear for the meeting. Both are among eight current and former top Bell officials who have been charged with multiple counts of corruption by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

The officials are accused of resorting to illegal activities to hide their oversized salaries.

Council member Lorenzo Velez said Jacobo was taken to a hospital, and Hernandez called in sick.

The proposal to disband the Police Department was one of a number of options on the table Thursday as the City Council considers drastic ways to help close a nearly $5-million shortfall that threatens to push the city into insolvency.

Some residents wore stickers on their backs that said, "I Love Bell Police -- the Good Guys." Others waived placards that read, "I Support Public Safety."

The signs were paid for by the Bell Police Officers Assn., which is fighting the proposal to dissolve the force.

"I definitely came tonight to support our police," said Patricia Varela, 51. "These are our cops who know us, who know our community."

The council chamber was filled to capacity as about 40 people stood outside.

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