Perhaps Aretha Franklin should release a (no doubt platinum-selling) album Who's Suin' Who?: The Story of Bell? Because really, without a little musical help, no one is going to be able to keep the town's eight corruption-scandal-related lawsuits straight. Bell, as you may recall, was being used more or less as the personal piggybank of many of the town's leaders, who are accused of mismanaging more than $50 million. And as the LA Times now reports, "the small Los Angeles County city is facing a mountain of legal challenges, any one of which could bankrupt the town." The most serious suit is from Dexia Credit Local, which is suing over Bell's default on $35 million in bonds. The city, meanwhile, is suing two sets of former lawyers for malpractice, fraud, and generally being terrible at their jobs, and may also sue its former accounting firm for that last point, too.
And then it gets silly: three former city leaders--who, remember, were fired for corruption and paying themselves huge salaries, and two of whom are facing corruption charges--are suing the city for breach of contract. One guy wants to be paid for his 329 unused sick and vacation days. And then Bell is suing two of them, "trying to recover their huge salaries and part of the $20 million Bell estimates it lost in the corruption scandal." The kicker? Bell may be on the hook for the legal fees of the employees involved in the suits, since their contracts state that Bell would pay to defend them for any work they did for the city. And the fees are outrageous. The former police chief sends a monthly bill of $580,000 from his attorney each month, "which the city files and ignores." Poor Bell. With the legal fallout from the corruption scandal making it difficult to move on, isn't a song cycle from the Queen of Soul the least they deserve? "C-O-R-R-U-P-T"?
· A mountain of lawsuits weighs heavily on Bell [LAT]