Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court February 22, 2011 in Los Angeles. Rizzo (far R) has been replaced.
Leaders in Bell have chosen someone to fill Robert Rizzo's old job as city manager. El Segundo's former city administrator Doug Willmore is scheduled to step into the job on June 1.
Rizzo, along with his top assistant and six ex-city council members, currently faces public corruption charges.
Bell Mayor Ali Saleh says the city council sifted through more than 70 applicants before they agreed on Willmore.
"He seemed like he had the knowledge and the expertise," Saleh said. "He gave a lot of references and we checked with the references and thought that he would be a right fit for the city."
In February, city council members in El Segundo voted to fire Willmore as administrator after he'd spent fewer than 10 months on the job. Some people in that city didn't like that Willmore had tried to extract higher taxes from oil company Chevron.
Willmore and his attorney have said they plan to file a lawsuit against the city. Saleh says Bell leaders weighed that issue before they made a decision.
"We did ask questions – as any recruiter would ask for anybody hiring somebody – and he addressed those concerns and we feel very comfortable," Saleh said.
Saleh emphasizes that the city has moved forward in the last year — and that it expects to take greater strides with Willmore on board. He cited Bell's new less-expensive waste disposal contract as an example of progress.
"We just approved a new trash contract and that'll bring down trash fees around 48 percent for the residents," Saleh said. "So that's significant progress for the community."
Doug Willmore is expected to sign a three-year contract with the city of Bell for a base salary of $175,000 a year.