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Home News-Telegram News National News Calif. town's council likely to see angry public

Calif. town's council likely to see angry public

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BELL, Calif. (AP) — Just days after firing three of the highest paid municipal employees in the United States, the mayor and other town leaders of this modest Los Angeles suburb could find their own jobs in jeopardy.

The City Council, which booted out its police chief, city manager and assistant city manager at an emergency meeting on Thursday, has called another such meeting for Monday to address the future of this 2-square-mile city southeast of Los Angeles.

And late Sunday, Attorney General Jerry Brown's office announced that he will hold a news conference to "disclose new developments in his probe of excessive salaries in the city of Bell."

Hundreds of residents who were enraged to learn last week that the lowest paid of the three ousted employees was making more than $300,000 a year were expected to attend the council meeting and demand that council members, most of whom are making about $100,000 a year, either slash their own salaries or resign.

"The fight doesn't end here," said Ali Saleh, who co-founded the group Bell Association to Stop the Abuse after the salaries were revealed.

He and other BASTA members, whose acronym translates to "Enough!" in Spanish, planned to paper the town with 12,000 flyers over the weekend, urging people to attend the meeting.

The salaries exploded into public view after a Los Angeles Times investigation, based on California Public Records Act requests, showed the city payroll was bloated with all sorts of six-figure salaries:

— Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo made $787,637 a year, getting a series of raises since being hired in 1993 at $72,000. President Barack Obama makes $400,000.

— Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia made $376,288 a year.

— Police Chief Randy Adams earned $457,000, $150,000 more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

Mayor Oscar Hernandez and three of the council's four other members make about $100,000 a year, most of it salaries for sitting on various boards and commissions. Only Councilman Lorenzo Velez makes a modest salary of about $8,000 a year.

If there is a recall, Saleh said his group would like Velez to stay on the council and work toward reforming local government in the city of 40,000 where one in six live in poverty and about half are foreign-born.

 
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