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Bell residents set to march over exorbitant salaries, call for mayor's resignation

July 25, 2010 | 11:45 am
Residents of the city of Bell, incensed at revelations that top city officials brought home salaries that were unusually high, were preparing to march through the streets Sunday to demand the resignation of four of five City Council members -- beginning, they said, with the resignation of Mayor Oscar Hernandez.

"I don't think they are taking it seriously. And we're serious," said Nestor Valencia, 45, an organizer of the demonstration, a Bell resident since 1975 and a founder of the Bell Resident Club. "They need to resign."

Bell is a working-class city of just 40,000 residents. The Times revealed earlier this month that former City Manager Robert Rizzo received a $787,637 annual salary, former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia received $457,000 and former Police Chief Randy Adams received $376,288. Rizzo earned more than President Obama; Spaccia earned more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County; and Adams earned 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

All three resigned on Friday.

Now, angry residents are turning their attention to four City Council members who are paid close to $100,000 annually -- sums that are far higher than in other cities of comparable sizes, and which have baffled and upset the League of California Cities and other local government organizations.

"This is a test for our community," Valencia said. "There's been a fiasco here."

Hernandez, in particular, Valencia argued, represents "a culture that is not our culture."

"It is a culture of rule-breaking," Valencia said. "It is a culture of nepotism. ... He thinks he can do anything because he is the mayor."

Hernandez could not be reached for comment.

Dozens of residents were gathering at the corner of Gage and Corona avenues. Several were wearing T-shirts featuring a city seal and the words "My city is more corrupt than your city."

-- Shelby Grad