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High salaries of Bell officials spur councilman who makes $155 a week to seek investigation, resignations

July 19, 2010 | 12:15 pm

A Bell city councilman has called for a "completely open and transparent" investigation into the salaries of top executives and his council colleagues, saying if a Times report that Bell officials are among the highest-paid administrators and elected municipal leaders in the nation is true, they should resign immediately.

Councilman Lorenzo Velez, who was appointed to the council in the working-class city in October, also said  he only received $310.62 every two weeks for his work as a councilman, far less than the $100,000 his colleagues collected annually.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office is investigating the council salaries. Normally, council members in a city the size of Bell would be paid about $400 a month, the D.A.’s office reported.

The Times has reported that Bell, one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County, pays its top officials some of the highest salaries in the nation, including nearly $800,000 annually for its city manager.

Bell Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo earns nearly twice the salary of President Obama, Police Chief Randy Adams about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia more than the chief executive for Los Angeles County.

Councilman Velez said he had no idea that the administrators received that level of pay until he read The Times' report. He said he was also unaware his colleagues were apparently earning so much more than he was.

He said resigning would be the “only decent thing” for his colleagues and the top administrators to do.

-- Jeff Gottlieb

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

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

-Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation