BELL, Calif. (AP) - The City Council of this tiny blue-collar
city voted to slash its bloated salaries, but some residents
suggested nothing short of a totally cleaned house would appease
Under pressure from furious Bell community members, council
members on Monday voted to cut their own salaries by 90 percent and
two said they would not seek re-election when their terms end.
Four of the five council members were getting paid nearly
$100,000 for their part-time jobs. Other officials were getting
paid far more and the city manager, who made nearly $800,000, has
already resigned. Attorney General Jerry Brown on Monday revealed
he had subpoenaed hundreds of city records.
Hundreds of residents packed the community center on Monday to
assail council members who listened to more than five hours of
public comment. After the council announced its decision to cut its
salaries, dozens of people waited for hours to vent their anger.
Many demanded the council resign immediately.
"I can never, ever, forgive you," an emotional Marcelino Ceja
shouted at the council members, who sat grim faced through the
noisy public comment. "You need to resign today."
Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo was defiant in saying she would not
resign and that she would "stand by my people."
"How dare you try to take a penny more from our pockets,"
responded Raquel McLafferty, an 11-year-resident of Bell. "Do the
city a favor, we don't want you here and we are not your people."
Bell's city manager, police chief and assistant city manager all
resigned last week after it was revealed they were making salaries
totaling $1.6 million a year.
The six-figure salaries at City Hall have prompted
investigations by California Attorney General Jerry Brown and the
Los Angeles County district attorney.
"We ask that you leave and give us our city back," said
Alfredo Ruvalcaba, a 27-year-old college student. "I am here on
behalf of my parents, who couldn't make it here today because they
have to work to pay your salaries."
Last week, Mayor Oscar Hernandez defended the salaries of the
city manager and other staff as being in line with similar
positions in other jurisdictions. He also noted the city had
achieved 15 years of balanced budgets.
Brown, a candidate for governor, said he had demanded to see
employment contracts within two days to determine whether to file
The grass-roots Bell Association to Stop the Abuse had
threatened to recall the council members if they didn't resign or
slash their own pay.
The salaries exploded into public view after a Los Angeles Times
investigation, based on California Public Records Act requests,
showed the city payroll was bloated with six-figure salaries:
- Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo made $787,637 a
year, getting a series of raises since being hired in 1993 at
$72,000. President Barack Obama makes $400,000.
- Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia made $376,288 a year.
- Police Chief Randy Adams earned $457,000 - $150,000 more than
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Councilman Lorenzo Velez makes about $8,000 a year, in line with
the part-time pay for council members of similar-sized cities. He
urged his colleagues to reduce their salaries to that level.