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Former Bell councilman keeps nearly $100,000-a-year salary even after resigning

July 20, 2010 | 11:20 am

A Bell councilman kept his nearly $100,000-a-year city salary even after stepping down, according to city records.

Victor Bello resigned for undisclosed reasons in August 2009. Almost immediately after he left the council, he became the only full-time employee at the city food bank, working as an assistant to the facility's coordinator, according to Bell's chief administrative officer, Robert Rizzo.

Rizzo said no one had the job before Bello.

Documents obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act show that in September 2009, Bello was being paid $96,600 a year — the same as most council members. He continues to receive that salary.

The documents also show that Bello was being paid for sitting on four city boards. But according to resolutions the council approved in June 2008, commissioners on those boards must be council members. Bello could not be reached for comment Monday.

Teresa Jacobo, the vice mayor, said she thought Bello was a volunteer at the food bank. She said that when she learned of his salary from The Times, she "was angry."

The district attorney's office is investigating why council members of the small, working-class city are paid so much for a part-time job.

Other documents reviewed by The Times revealed that top city officials have among the highest salaries in the nation. Rizzo's salary is $787,637. Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double the amount paid to New York City's police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.

On Monday night, outraged Bell residents packed the City Council meeting, demanding that Rizzo resign or be fired.

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.

"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.

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives