In brief: Bell City Council members convicted of stealing funds


Los Angeles – Five former City Council members in a small, blue-collar Los Angeles suburb that became a symbol of political greed were convicted Wednesday of stealing taxpayer money by creating a panel that helped boost their part-time pay to nearly $100,000 a year.

One former councilman was acquitted and the other five were found not guilty of several counts each, as jurors returned verdicts on only about half of the more than 80 charges prosecutors had filed. Jurors said they were deadlocked on the other charges, but the judge ordered them to continue deliberations after some members said they thought a verdict could still be reached.

The trial was the first such proceeding following revelations that Bell’s leadership had bilked the hardscrabble city of $5.5 million, using the money to pay huge salaries to the city manager, police chief, City Council members and others. The former city manager and his assistant are expected to face trial on similar charges later this year.

Former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez and onetime City Council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, George Cole and Victor Bello were convicted Wednesday of misappropriating public funds.

Former Councilman Luis Artiga was acquitted of all charges.

Pediatricians, citing kids’ welfare, back gay marriage

Chicago – The nation’s most influential pediatricians group has endorsed gay marriage, saying a stable relationship between parents regardless of sexual orientation contributes to a child’s health and well-being.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy, published online, cites research showing that the parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable, the academy says.

The academy believes that a two-parent marriage is best equipped to provide that kind of environment. Their policy says that if a child has two gay parents who choose to marry, “it is in the best interests of their children that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so.”

The policy cites reports indicating that almost 2 million U.S. children are being raised by gay parents, many of them in states that don’t allow gays to marry.

The academy announced its position today. Officials with the group said they wanted to make the academy’s views known before two gay marriage cases are considered by the U.S. Supreme Court next week.


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