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Bell council agrees to roll back its salary 90% [Updated]

City Council members in Bell unanimously agreed Monday to give up their controversial $96,000-a-year salaries and instead draw only $673 a month – a 90% decrease.

Council members in the small, working-class city southeast of downtown Los Angeles have been under mounting pressure since the salaries for the part-time jobs were revealed in The Times.

Mayor Oscar Hernandez on Monday went a step further than his colleagues and said he will finish his term without pay and will not seek another stint as the city’s mayor. [Updated, 10:25 p.m.: Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo said at Monday night's meeting that she, too, will finish her term without pay. Councilman George Mirabal said he will not seek reelection.]

Hernandez also apologized to residents for the high salaries the city paid to administrators, a reversal from the defiant tone he struck last week.

“Since my first day as mayor, my priority has been to make Bell a city its residents can be proud to call home,” he said. “…I apologize that the council’s past decisions with regard to the indefensible administrative salaries have failed to meet that test.”

The Times revealed earlier this month that the city's top officials received some of the highest municipal wages in the nation. City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo makes $787,637 a year, almost twice the salary of President Obama; Police Chief Randy Adams makes $457,000, 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck; and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

In agreeing to sweep back their salaries, council members put themselves on par with Councilman Lorenzo Velez, who has been paid $673 a month. Velez said he was unaware that his colleagues were making so much.

Lorenzo has been the only council member spared the wrath of angry residents. His salary is not affect by Monday's vote.

Council members drove up their salaries by earning stipends by serving on various boards or commissions, all of which generally met – though often very briefly – during council meetings.

In their agreement Monday, council members said the $673-a-month salary will constitute their total pay.

-- Ruben Vives at Bell Community Center

Photo: Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies stand near the Bell City Council during a meeting filled with angry residents upset with the high salaries paid to members. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Investigating Bell:  A Times special report:

Is a city manager worth $800,000?

In depth: High salaries in Bell

Interactive: How the salaries got so high

Bell residents are not happy about high salaries

High salaries fuel anger in Bell

Bell council members under investigation for $100,000 salaries

Video: Why do Bell officials make so much money? The Times' Jeff Gottlieb explains.

Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation

Bell council found loophole to allow big salaries

Photos: Protests in Bell

Comments () | Archives (43)

They should return all the extra money they made with their ill-gotten higher salaries.

There should also be punishment as well, otherwise people will attempt the same thing again in the future. As long as you don't get caught isn't good enough.

This is NOT good enough. All those involve have already drawn larger than acceptable paychecks. They must PAY BACK any monthly paycheck over the $673. In fact, they should be forced to payback ALL MONEY that they've made. If not, what's to keep another charlatan from attempting the same end-a-round ?
Rizzo, Spaccia, and Adams need to go to PRISON! Plus, the judge should fine them all monies over the amount that they would have gotten under California's 2005 "general law" salaries. Finally, their pensions should be based upon those "general law" salaries MINUS 30% for life. So, instead of $670,000, Rizzo would end up with about 50,000/year. HELL, THAT'S STILL TOO MUCH!!!!!!

Are there totals on just how much the Bell city council has earned since they've been in office?

Are the residents are demanding any of that money back?

People of Bell: Did you know that every man, woman and child was paying these 2 scoundrels $40 per year? What did you get in return?

As for your City Council, are you still going to keep there ravenous wolves on the payroll.....because not one of you will come forward and say that you can do a better job.

Come on! Is Bell the city without sack also?

What about the pensions once they leave office? Will that be adjusted too?

All of them should resign. This is corruption on a large scale, I hope the state's AG has already lunched an investigation to bring charges.

That's all fine and dandy, but I still don't want my tax dollars paying for the fat Rizzo's $600,000 pension. Something has to be done about that pension.

God bless the LA Times. Thank you for performing a great public service.

Please LAT... publish the salaries for ALL cities for all to see.

Why stop with Bell?

The attorney general should start to look at pressing charges for all, and indict anyone that was involved with the corruption of this city. It's a disgrace to politics in the United States, and a disgrace to our democracy, corruption only happens in third world countries, where the people lack proper education (what, just because the city of bell is predomenantly 89% hispanic, with a general low education, do you think Rizzo that you would of gotten away with this. This is an Outrage. City of Bell, people of Bell. Time to fight back, take to the streets, organize, and ask for immediate impeachment, and ask for restitution, also ask for prison for fraud committed.

It looks like the Council are puppets of the CAO. Police Chief and City Manager. They are running something illegal - mafia style and should be investigated by the FBI.


"Lorenzo has been the only council member spared the wrath of angry residents. His salary is not affect by Monday's vote"

Heads up Ruben, there may be a grammar error. The mistake may be with the word "affect"

Thanks for the article

What they really need to do is leave office. It's clear nothing would have ever changed, if they hadn't been caught.
In my opinion, this looks like a case of deep corruption; and its criminal that these people will be receiving rich pensions at the tax payer's expense.

They should be run out of town.

Too late, Recall !!

good now they could see how the other half lives!!!!! i hope one day they have to stand in the food lines like everyone else...
besides with that hefty $700,000.00 salary gone now they can afford to hire 22 people at a decent salary of $35,000 a year. to do a better job and at the same time get 22 people off unemployment or welfare.

I'm so glad they got caught, it's greedy, scummy people like that who don't deserve a damn thing. And I say empty out their bank accounts because they took that money under false pretenses and take away their pensions too...
pissed in covina...victory for our brothers and sisters in Bell.....

All of them should resign, and a new bunch of councilmen brought in. They had their chance and blew it.

This is such a BS story destined to happen as planned. This is hype for both them and you. They get paid too good for a while. Someone tells these people as if suddenly high pay is "corruption" and now we are really going to defeat such unfairness. They will take less pay, but so will you you fools. Are we supposed to pretend that it's fair now after this? BS

Of course they are NOW ok with taking the salaries they should have started with. After several years making 96k for a part time job, I reckon they may be all set now. In the end, it's on the voters and I now can't speak too highly of the voters in Bell for letting this go on for over a decade. Ya'll are fired!

These geniuses should make restitution to the poor city of Bell. Keeping then on the payroll even at 90% reduction in pay is equivalent to keeping wolves in a chicken coop simply because they did not eat all the chickens.
On the other hand they should go to prison for embezzlement of public funds.

They should all give it up, I have a feeling they are going to end up in jail anyway

they should all be voted out of office - that's a travesty and just down right greedy.......how could you ever trust them again?

Where can I find a picture of Rizzo. For some reason, none of the articles post pictures of him. This seems odd?

Not good enough!

They all need to be indicted for embezzlement and RICO charges.

They need to go to jail and repay the hundreds of thousands of dollars they STOLE from the impoverished citizens of Bell.

Wonder why none of these official's party affliation was mentoined. Oh yeah, all Democrats! Typical reporting from a liberal media - especially during election season. Wake up America! Imagine if these people were Republicans?

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