Last week the Los Angeles Times broke the story that, unbeknownst to most of the town's population, the city manager, the assistant city manager, the chief of police, and even the town council members, all pull down stratospheric salaries.
Reporters Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives noted:
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, according to documents reviewed by The Times.
In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, 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 New York City's police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.
and goes into how the Council may have worked their way around State laws in garnering salaries 20 times what they should have received
The district attorney is investigating Bell over the hefty compensation of its City Council members -- about $100,000 a year for part-time positions. Normally, council members in a city the size of Bell would be paid about $400 a month, Demerjian said.
The council has increased its compensation by paying members for serving on a variety of city agencies, including the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Community Housing Authority, the Planning Commission, the Public Financing Authority, the Surplus Property Authority and the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority.
Demerjian said city records show each council member receives $7,873.25 per month for sitting on those boards.
Records indicate that the boards of those agencies perform little work and that board meetings take place during council meetings, though the names of some of the agencies seldom appear.
In some years, the council would hold separate meetings for those agencies, and they would sometimes last no more than a minute. On July 31, 2006, four agencies each met for one minute. On March 3, 2008, the redevelopment agency meeting was called to order at 7:21 p.m. and adjourned at 7:22 p.m.
Councilman Luis Artiga, who was appointed to the council 15 months ago to fill an unexpired term, said he had no idea how much he would be paid. When he received his first check, he thought it was "a miracle from God."
Rubin posted a follow up article yesterday in the Times, now that the Bell community is up in arms.
At a closed-door meeting Monday night, as hundreds of residents protested outside, council members also discussed reducing their own pay. Most of them make $100,000 a year.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has inquired about the salaries.
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.
Reuters reporter, Jim Christie, is reporting that the Bell city manager, Robert Rizzo, is expected to do quite well on his pension:
If Rizzo leaves his job, which irate residents of Bell are demanding, he could draw $884,692 in his first year of retirement, according to her calculations [Marcia Fritz, who heads the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility].
At age 62, when Rizzo could also begin receiving Social Security payments, his annual pension would rise to $976,771, topping $1 million two years later. If he lives to age 83, his annual payout would rise to $1.48 million.
The Bell website lists a Mayor, Vice Mayor, and three Council members.
Now, the Bell officials chose to spend their tax money on themselves and key employees. How different are we in Indianapolis, where we choose, instead, to spend our tax money on powerful movers and shakers?