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Shouting interrupts Bell meeting on high salaries

July 22, 2010 |  5:24 pm

An emergency meeting of the Bell City Council to decide the fate of three top administrators who are among the highest paid in the nation got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon.

Residents angry about the salaries demanded that the discussion be held in public view. But city officials said the personnel matters needed to be discussed behind closed doors, prompting some in the crowd to start shouting. The incident interrupted the meeting briefly, but the council began taking public comments before going into closed session.

Attorneys for the city have been negotiating with the three officials for several days, hoping to reach deals in which the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief would step down, sources told The Times.

Resigning would make City Manager Robert Rizzo, Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia eligible for lucrative pensions. But the three also have contracts that protect them from being fired without cause.

As a result, unless they agree to resign, the city would face the prospect of buying out their contracts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional payments.

Rizzo earns nearly $800,000 a year, believed to make him the highest-paid city manager in California and possibly the nation. Adams makes $457,000 — 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck — and Spaccia makes $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

The salaries, revealed by The Times last week, sparked protests in the small, predominantly working-class town southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

  -- Ruben Vives in Bell

Photo: Danny Harber, a 35-year Bell resident, expresses his anger at the City Council meeting. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times


Investigating Bell:  A Times Special Report

Is a city manager worth $800,000?

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

City Manager received alcohol counseling after DUI

Photos: Protests in Bell