The Great Bell Turnaround


Today, Bell is considered one of the most stable and ethically sound city governments in Los Angeles County.

Shortly after his first election to city council, Ali Saleh was voted in as Mayor of Bell.  While Bell residents rejoiced at the prospects of a new day of good governance–the corrupt Rizzo regime left the city with basic structural problems including weak administration, significant debt, and several unresolved lawsuits. Ali quickly moved to stabilize Bell’s finances and administrative structure. He worked with the California League of Cities to hire an interim city manager with crisis management experience. First, they cut Robert Rizzo’s exorbitant pension to a rate in line with California averages. Then they moved to hire a professional staff.

Because the city was nearly bankrupt, they negotiated a restructuring of city law suits and actually began to bring in positive revenue streams with a year. They cut trash rates for local residents, stopped increases in property taxes, retained the local police department, and increased Park and Recreation services.

The city’s turnaround is a testament to the power of democracy and what local citizens can accomplish when they take control of their government and community. Ali Saleh had it right when nearly ten years ago he decided to organize his local community and say ¡Basta! to corrupt government.

Things I helped accomplish for my city.

  • Completed construction of a $1.8 M street improvement project (6.3 lane miles); Measure R provided $585,000 for this project; Prop C provided $300,000 for this project.

  • Completed the 2014-15 Pavement Rehab Project which included the resurfacing or reconstruction of 6.3 lane miles of streets; the repair of damaged curbs and guttesr, driveway approaches, and sidewalks; and the installation of curb ramps.

  • Completed entitlement for a 64,000 SF commercial tilt-up warehouse and office building; a new Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant; a 6-unit commercial retail complex; and a new 4,740 SF bakery.

  • Developed a new Pee Wee Sports program for youth ages 4-7.

  • Developed new Senior Services programs for adults 55+.

  • Renovated the baseball field at Veterans Memorial Park.

  • Developed a new Adult Sports Program and after-school programs for youth ages 7-12 years old.

  • Established the first annual Bell 5K Run/Walk with 1,300 registered participants.

  • Partnered with the Mexican Consulate, Watts Properties, and Senator Ricardo Lara’s office to bring the Barrio Roots Mural project, which consisted of a community mural painting behind the Bell Plaza.

  • Partnered with Southeast Los Angeles Collective to bring in the Art Walk.

  • Partnered with Encuentro Latino to coordinate the Dia de los Muertos event.

  • The city of Bell was awarded two consecutive $5,000 grants from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Walmart Foundation to continue to provide healthy after-school youth programs at Camp Little Bear.

  • Created and established Student Government Day in collaboration with Bell High School.