Anybody living in Southern California for the last couple of years has heard of the City of Bell scandal and I suspect that the story is known outside of the state as well. The Los Angeles Times received a Pulitzer gold medal for public service, as a result of its coverage along with titillating stories such as Is a city manager worth $800,000? and Bell officials hauled off in handcuffs. The story become part of the City’s Wikipedia page with its own featured jump to City Official Corruption Scandal: and its own dedicated page 2010 City of Bell salary controversy. Even GovLoop had an article mentioning it, Local Government Transparency – One city on the edge.
That, however, was not the end of the story. City of Bell community members came together and not only cleaned out city hall, they also came together to create a new vision of their community. Working with Davenport Institute of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University and PACE or Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement and a new crop of committed city advocates, such as Bell City Council person Ana Maria Quintana , the new City of Bell leadership reached out to the community for help on coming up with a new budget despite the city being in financial shambles. The City Manager at the time was Ken Hampian, who was approached after a search resulted in zero applicants and who fully embodied the idea of generous leadership by working pro bono.
This far more inspirational but less known story was told at a Hudson Institute panel on “Broken Cities or Civic Renewal?”
Hat tip to Peter Peterson, Executive Director at Davenport Inst. for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine School of Public Policy for featuring this video through the NCDD group page on LinkedIn.