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Bell residents pack City Council meeting to determine future of embattled official [Updated]

July 19, 2010 |  8:32 pm
Angry Bell residents Monday evening packed a City Council meeting at which officials were deciding the future of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, under fire for his nearly $800,000 annual salary.

Hundreds of residents were at the meeting, which had been moved to the city's community center to accommodate the crowd. People crowded the lawn and spilled onto the street.

Bell's vice mayor said Monday afternoon that Rizzo would resign or be fired at the meeting. He makes $787,637 annually -- nearly twice the salary of President Obama.

Her comments followed an investigation in The Times reporting that Bell, one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County, pays its top officials some of the highest salaries in the nation.

[Updated 8:41 p.m.: The City Council took no action against Rizzo and instead asked for a staff report on officials' salary.]

People waved signs that read "Stop the abuse on our taxes" and "Welcome to Bell, where the City Council makes more than you do. Also, we have nice parks." One sign depicted Mayor Oscar Hernandez with horns and holding a bag, with the caption, "Taxpayers' Money."

As council members went into closed session, residents shouted "Fuera!" "Fuera!" or "Out!" "Out!"

Other residents were collecting signatures to demand an audit of City Hall finances.

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives at Bell City Hall

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

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives at City Hall