BELL, Calif. (AP) - Three administrators whose huge salaries
sparked outrage in this small blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles
have agreed to resign, the City Council said Friday.
Council members emerged from an hours-long closed session at
midnight Friday and announced that they'd accepted the resignations
of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Assistant City
Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams.
Rizzo was the highest paid at $787,637 a year - nearly twice the
pay of President Barack Obama - for overseeing one of the poorest
towns in Los Angeles County.
Spaccia makes $376,288 a year and Adams earns $457,000, 50
percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
The three will not receive severance packages, the Los Angeles
Times reported Friday. Rizzo will step down at the end of August
and Spaccia will leave at the end of September. Adams will also
leave at the end of August, after completing an evaluation of the
police department, the Times said.
"I'm happy that they resigned but I'm disappointed at the
pension that they're going to receive," said Ali Saleh, a member
of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse or BASTA.
Rizzo would be entitled to a state pension of more than $650,000
a year for life, according to calculations made by the Times. That
would make Rizzo, 56, the highest-paid retiree in the state pension
Adams could get more than $411,000 a year.
Spaccia, 51, could be eligible for as much as $250,000 a year
when she reaches 55, though the figure is less precise than for the
other two officials, the Times said.
Saleh said the crowd applauded after the announcement but
immediately yelled out questions about what would happen to the
council members. Four of the five of them are paid close to
$100,000 annually for part-time work. When the crowd's questions
were not answered, they shouted, "Recall!, Recall!"
Revelations about the pay in Bell has sparked anger in the city
of fewer than 40,000 residents. Census figures from 2008 show 17
percent of the population lives in poverty.
Enraged residents have staged protests demanding the firings and
started a recall campaign against some council members.
"Woo-hoo, the salaries. Wow. What can I say? I think that's
unbelievable," Christina Caldera, a 20-year resident of the city,
said as she stood in line at a food bank.
Caldera, who is struggling after recently losing her job as a
drug and alcohol counselor, said she generally was satisfied with
the way the city was being run but felt high-paid officials should
take a pay cut.
"What are they doing with all that money?" she asked. "Maybe
they could put it into more jobs for other people."
Attempts to leave messages seeking comment from Rizzo and
Spaccia failed because their voicemails were full. A message left
for Adams was not immediately returned.
The county district attorney's office is investigating to
determine if the high salaries for the council members violate any
state laws. The City Council also intends to review city salaries,
including those of its own members, according to Councilman Luis
Artiga and Mayor Oscar Hernandez.
"We are going to analyze all the city payrolls and possibly
will revise all the salaries of the city," Artiga said.
However, both men said they considered the City Council pay to
"We work a lot. I work with my community every day," the mayor
said, as he shook hands with and embraced people leaving the food
Council members are on call around the clock, and it is not
uncommon for them to take calls in the middle of the night from
people reporting problems with city services, Artiga said.
Though many residents are poor, Hernandez said they live in a
city they can be proud of, one with a $22.7 million budget surplus,
clean streets, refurbished parks and numerous programs for people
of all ages. He pointed proudly down a street to a park filled with
new exercise equipment.
When Rizzo arrived 17 years ago, Hernandez said, the city was
$13 million in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. Rizzo obtained
government grants to aid the city, the mayor said.
Rizzo was arrested near his home in Huntington Beach in March
and charged with misdemeanor drunken driving. He pleaded not guilty
and is due back in court for an Aug. 5 hearing, said Farrah Emami,
a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.
The Los Angeles Times reported the salaries last week, prompting
a large protest Monday at City Hall in which residents shouted and
demanded that Rizzo be fired.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office has
launched an investigation in conjunction with the state's public
employee retirement agency into pension and related benefits for
Bell's civic leaders.