Masters Thesis

Accountability, transparency and access to public information: a case study on the City of Bell

This case study analyzes the 2010 scandal in the Bell, CA regarding government salaries, property tax rates, and revenue collection practices. With an extensive literature review on transparency, accountability and access to public information, this study compares Bell’s administrators’ salaries to other cities in LA County. The case study explores tactics used by city administration to facilitate their ability to embezzle more than $5.6 million in public funds. The research indicated that residents in Bell did not act on their right to public documents that allowed city officials to operate Bell for personal gain. The City currently does not have enough money to cover core services. Recommendations that provide short and long term goals for the City of Bell are explored. The research also indicated that there is a need for a system of checks and balances at all government levels that would help reduce corruption in charter cities. Greater involvement from constituents in government affairs would be the best method to reduce corruption.

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