The jury in the first city of Bell corruption trial has found five of the six defendants, all former council members, guilty on numerous charges and is undecided on other counts.
Throughout the trial, the defendants denied their guilt, blaming their actions on the influence of former City Manager Robert Rizzo. They may have a point, but it is no excuse for not governing responsibly. Their defense is an admission of unfitness for holding office in the first place.
As elected City Council members, they were Rizzo's bosses, not the other way around. Their job was to set city policy and to hold their staff accountable. By allowing the administrator to dominate them, they are also culpable in civic and political terms in addition to any legal responsibility.