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Bell residents outraged that City Council takes no action against top official

July 19, 2010 |  9:42 pm

Bell residents who packed a City Council meeting Monday night were outraged that officials failed to fire embattled Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, who has sparked controversy because of his nearly $800,000 annual salary.

Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo said earlier that she expected that Rizzo would resign or be fired at the meeting. Her comments came after The Times reported that Rizzo was earning $787,637 annually, twice as much as President Obama.

But the council, citing legal concerns, ordered a staff report on salaries of top city officials to be completed for next Monday's meeting. That sparked outrage from people in the audience.

“We’re asking for your patience,” Councilman Lorenzo Velez said over the shouts of  “Fire Rizzo now!” and “Recall, recall!” 

Rizzo did not attend the meeting.

“You’re either with us or against us – and if you’ve been earning $100,000 a year, you’re against us,” said Cristina Garcia of the community group “Bell Assn. to Stop the Abuse.”

Group members said they planned to file recall papers against council members. In recent days, the group had passed out more than 9,000 fliers urging people to attend Monday’s meeting.

"I'm very angry,"  Leticia Aquino said after the meeting. "I literally have to work 24 hours to pay their salaries."

Outside the tiny council chambers, people pressed against the door as fire officials threatened to shut down the meeting unless the crowds backed off.

A number ot 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 person had a sign depicting Mayor Oscar Hernandez with devil horns.

As the meeting got underway, people were collecting signatures demanding an audit of all City Hall finances.

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb 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