Caught Red-Handed With Outrageous Salaries, City Officials Take Pay Cuts, Resign

The furor we discussed last week over obscene levels of municipal pay in the tiny 38,000-person city of Bell, California — where an average resident’s salary is about $25,000 and the city manager was paid $800,000 — is hurtling toward its initial phases of resolution.

This week its council members voted to slash their own salaries from $100,000 to $8,000 per year and at least two members will not pursue re-election. The Attorney General and District Attorney are looking into criminal charges.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

“‘Since my first day as mayor, my priority has been to make Bell a city its residents can be proud to call home,’ [Mayor Oscar Hernandez] said. ‘I apologize that the council’s past decisions with regard to the indefensible administrative salaries have failed to meet that test.’ Hernandez said he will not seek another stint as mayor.

“A [Los Angeles] Times report revealed that the city’s top officials received some of the highest municipal wages in the nation. City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo made $787,637 a year, almost twice the salary of President Obama; Police Chief Randy Adams made $457,000, 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck; and Assistant City Manager Spaccia made $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

“All three resigned last week.

“In agreeing to sweep back their salaries, Councilmen Luis Artiga and George Mirabal put themselves on par with Lorenzo Velez, who has been paid $673 a month since he was appointed to the council last summer. Velez said he was unaware his colleagues were making so much.”

Well, that’s ironic… even sharing seats on the same greed-driven board the council members didn’t mind not only earning more than ten times as much as their colleague, but also keeping him in the dark about it. The City of Bell provides an obvious and extreme example of misconduct when it comes to governmental salaries. Yet, it’s easy to imagine there are countless other instances of better-hidden salary shenanigans in municipalities throughout the nation… it’s a system ripe for abuse.

You can read more details in Los Angeles Times coverage of how Bell council members are cutting their own salaries by 90 percent.


Rocky Vega,
The Daily Reckoning