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$100,000 salaries for council members in small town of Bell: Is that a crime?

TalkBackLA

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating why city council members in the small, working-class city of Bell are paid nearly $100,000 a year for a part-time job.

Bell is in the news because it has agreed to take over most city operations for neighboring Maywood, which announced it will lay off all its employees on July 1.

Public Integrity Division prosecutors said a review of Bell city records showed that council members each received $8,083.25 per month. Prosecutors say that under state law and based on population, part-time council members in small cities should be paid a $400 monthly stipend (council members in Maywood earn about $300 a month). Prosecutors have asked the city for an explanation.

Bell officials say the D.A. office's numbers are misleading because they include the cost of medical insurance, retirement and other benefits, but they also defend the compensation.

"The average income for a person in our area is $32,000 and $38,000 a year," Mayor Oscar Hernandez told The Times' Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives. "In a troubled city, the city council should get paid a little more."

What do you think? Share your views below.

 
Comments () | Archives (190)

If this what a council person gets paid, I can Imagine what the City Manager, Assistant City Manager, the Police Chief, and other "friends" are being paid. It's time to ask for W2's through the Public Records Act

these are folks that live in the community how they can show their faces to the hard working people of Bell.

I hear the City Manager, Robert Rizzo, make over $500,000.00 a year and is one of the highest paid city managers in the nation...why aren't they investigating him?

How do I get one of these part-time jobs that pays $100K?

What? what does the average income of a Bell resident and your claim that Bell is "a troubled" justify city council getting paid more? Really, that's the best explanation you can come up with? It's so embarrassing for me as a Latina to see yet another city being corrupted by another Latino, did you not learn anything from your neighbor, South Gate, and their drug dealing, backroom operating , b***ch-slapping city council?

Corruption at its best! The city of Bell city council members can't even run the city correctly, and have to offload services because their incompetent. And how do they reward themselves? My squandering public funds. These people need to be charged with corruption and sent to jail.

what a bunch of jokers.
They only work a few hours a week, and spend that
trying to get bribes and perks.
Is EVERY politician a crook?

Their job can't be as difficult as a LtCol in Iraq, who typically earn about the same.

Get paid a little more? So what does that really mean, double the average salary?

"In a troubled city, the city council should get paid a little more." Is the Mayor of Bell serious? Let's pay all the politicians and elected officials in California "a little more," they've certainly earned it...

put em in the pokey...Southgate had the same problems around a decade ago

I find it ironic that the mayor wants to be compensated for dealing with a troubled city. Is he indicating that his decision making is not contributing to the situation. Making 100k for part time work seems to be a extension of poor city management.

By the way, since you are making 100k to deal with a troubled city, what great decisions have you made that have benefited your constituents or the community. Is crime down? Is your community safer? Is the community considered a great place for private investment? I didn't think so.

Government officials are there to "SERVE" the people. They are not serving the people if they are wasting tax dollars. Those tax dollars should be going to those others who are there to take care of the people of their communities, like the police, fire fighters, teachers.....you get the point...its always a shame to see what OUR (so they say) government does daily to screw us. =-(

First of all, thank yo u LA Times for revealing the corrupt practices that have been going on for too long. Without your reporting, many of us would never know.

Second, California is not dying...California is dead.

Its suppose to be about 'service' when you hold public office. Salaries should reflect that. Yes, they work hard, but this level of salary for a part-time job is insane. However, I am not surprised. The Los Angeles city council is the highest paid in the nation. They call it the "GOLDEN STATE" for a reason. Do I think its fair? Of course not. Limit the terms and lower the salary and watch who 'drops' political jobs.

and they wonder why we don't trust politicians?

My comments are based on face value of the article. Obviously, since I don't live in Bell, nor am I on their city council, or even an auditor of their books, this is a general statement. If Bell is financially & administratively able to take over for Maywood, I have to wonder what Bell is doing right. I mean, as long as Bell is not robbing Peter to pay Paul, does that mean the city council is running a tight ship? If they are - then maybe they should reap the rewards. On the flip side, if there's a state law that only allows for a $400 stipend then they are breaking the law. And the argument that another nearly $8K in benefits (per month) isn't being factored in is laughable. My only point is this: if I were to live in a well-run town without corruption, I would not begrudge a well-paid city council. Whether this is the case here or not, I would not know and it's certainly worth an investigation.

Of course Maywood can't handle itself and Bell is corrupt. Maywood was the first sanctuary city! Regression to the Third World? Of course! Mayor Hernandez
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Do they mention how many council members there are in Bell?? 6, 7, maybe 8?? Multiply that times $100,000.oo Wow!! I work full time as a Plumber averaging about 45 to 55 hours a week and if I make $60,000.00 or $70,000.00 per year I'm doing great!! Of course, I still can't afford $1800.00 per month for medical insurance. No wonder the State and local cities are broke. Look at the financial problems LA is having and the council men all make about $170,000.00 per year times 12 council men?? And the mayor Villalagroza, when he took off for 3 months campaigning for that looser Hillary Clinton, I'm sure he still got paid his monthly salary of $42,000.00 for those three months he did absolutely nothing for the City of LA. Every City employee in high positions should be forced to publicly post how much they get paid so the public knows where all OUR money is going.

the average salary for the LA Council member is about 180,000. $100,000 a year seems high, but not necessarily unreasonable.

source: http://www.lasalaries.com

As mentioned by J1 previously, this is exactly the same 'Mayor' Oscar Hernandez who claims he did not know that one of his rentals was being used as a METH LAB capable of producing 20 pounds at one time. This bust was in June 2009. That's a mayor that really 'takes care' of his comunity...

Business as usual.

Fiscal abuse at every level of government and they truly believe the explanation given. I agree, unless we are getting ride of all of them - this is truly a disgrace.

They should be paid a million. Stupid people deserve such a government.

What a joke. All these South East Cities try this pay raise ruse by putting themselves on different Committees and boards and Directorships.
South Gate right next door to Bell is a troubled City also with over 100,000 population and they only get $1,000 per council member per month total and yes it is a thankless job if you are doing it for the Community and not for your pocket. In 2003 when we recalled our 3 Crazies like these City of Bell Council Cheats because they were also trying to bilk the taxpayer and they demanded 3,500$ a month per Council for their services because they gave themselves the title Community Development Directors although they didn't do any thing but sit in on the Committee meeting for 15 minutes before their regular scheduled Council meetings. Before that they were being paid $600.00 per month per Council Member per month. When our good Council people came in after the recall they immediately rescinded this questionably legal Council pay raise much to their credit.
Recalls are only good if you know the person who will be taking over. Recalls are not good if you are only getting in another shyster.

Wait a minute folks, these people are PART TIME. No-one forced them to take the job. They ACCEPTED the salary of $400 a month BEFORE they started work and is the LAW!

These bloodsuckers need to fired now, made to return every penny they STOLE and then be jailed for a very long time!

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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