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California Official's $800,000 Salary in City of 38,000 Triggers Protests

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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Hundreds of residents of one of the poorest municipalities in Los Angeles County shouted in protest last night as tensions rose over a report that the city’s manager earns an annual salary of almost $800,000.

An overflow crowd packed a City Council meeting in Bell, a mostly Hispanic city of 38,000 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, to call for the resignation of Mayor Oscar Hernandez and other city officials. Residents left standing outside the chamber banged on the doors and shouted “fuera,” or “get out” in Spanish.

It was the first council meeting since the Los Angeles Times reported July 15 that Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo earns $787,637 -- with annual 12 percent raises -- and that Bell pays its police chief $457,000, more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck makes in a city of 3.8 million people. Bell council members earn almost $100,000 for part-time work.

City Attorney Edward Lee said the council members couldn’t discuss salaries in public without advance notice. The council then adjourned for a private session. About an hour later, the council members returned, and Hernandez read a statement saying the city would prepare a report on the salaries and seek public comment at the next council meeting, scheduled for Aug. 16.

Residents shouted in protest. Lee said he would have the room cleared if people continued to speak out of line. Police Chief Randy Adams said the fire department wanted to end the meeting because the crowd outside was blocking the door.

Easing Tensions

Then, in what appeared to be an effort to ease tensions, Hernandez announced that the meeting to discuss salaries would be held instead on July 26.

After the meeting, Bell resident Ali Saleh read a statement from a newly formed group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse. He called for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts. (anyone care to take a guess at the acronym for that group?)

On July 1 Bell took control of many of the city functions of neighboring Maywood, a city whose council members voted to contract out almost all services. Saleh also asked that Bell stop that process until the city’s salary investigations were resolved.

Bell has sold two general obligation bond issues totaling $50 million in the past six years, according to prospectuses for the bonds and information in the city’s annual financial statement for 2009. In that time, its debt has risen to $1,972 per capita in 2009 from $599 in 2004, according to its annual financial statement.

Inquiry Under Way

The city’s personal income was $24,800 per capita in 2008, according to its financial statement. That compares with an average of $32,819 nationwide, according to 2010 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Bell’s general fund revenue declined 4.6 percent to $14.1 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, according to the city’s financial statement. The city’s expenses rose 2.3 percent to $15.9 million in same period.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has begun an inquiry into Bell council member pay, according to Dave Demerjian, head of the office’s Public Integrity Division. He said Bell council members were receiving $8,083 a month, mostly by serving on city-related commissions.

“We’re reviewing the council member salaries to see if they conform to state law,” Demerjian said in a telephone interview.

California law limits the salaries of council members to several hundred dollars a month, depending on the size of the city, according to Hector De La Torre, a state assemblyman from nearby South Gate, who sponsored legislation in 2005 that limits how much council members can get paid from other city-related assignments to $150 a month.

‘Obscene Pay’

De La Torre said that after his bill was passed, Bell’s City Council voted to operate under its own charter, rather than adhere to state laws on how cities should be run.

“It seems obscene to me,” De La Torre said in a telephone interview. “People making $30,000 a year are paying taxes so that their council members can make $80,000.”

Adams, Bell’s police chief, said in an interview after the council meeting that he had retired as chief of police in the much larger city of Glendale, California, when Bell officials approached him.

“I told them they would have to pay me what I was making in retirement and the $165,000 I would make as chief of police,” Adams said.

Adams said he had been brought in to end corruption in Bell’s police department.

“Some of the former members of this force are in the federal penitentiary,” he said.

‘Streets Are Cleaner’

Hernandez, the mayor, defended the salaries in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“Our streets are cleaner, we have lovely parks, better lighting throughout the area, our community is better,” Hernandez said, according to the newspaper. “These things just don’t happen, they happen because he had a vision and made it happen.”

Carmen Avalos, the city clerk in South Gate, said she attended the Bell council meeting to help educate people about the political process.

“This is what we are trying to avoid,” she said in an interview at the meeting. “The lack of fiduciary responsibility, the lack of transparency.”

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* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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They are right to protest - on the surface this sounds like a terribly corrupt situation, much like a lot of the US political system...


Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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Fire the bums..... VOTE!


"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006



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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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update:

Calif. council accepts resignations of 3 managers

BELL, Calif. – Three administrators whose huge salaries sparked outrage in this small blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles have agreed to resign, the City Council said Friday.

Council members emerged from an hours-long closed session at midnight Friday and announced that they'd accepted the resignations of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams.

Rizzo was the highest paid at $787,637 a year — nearly twice the pay of President Barack Obama — for overseeing one of the poorest towns in Los Angeles County.

Spaccia makes $376,288 a year and Adams earns $457,000, 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

The three will not receive severance packages, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Rizzo will step down at the end of August and Spaccia will leave at the end of September. Adams will also leave at the end of August, after completing an evaluation of the police department, the Times said.

"I'm happy that they resigned but I'm disappointed at the pension that they're going to receive," said Ali Saleh, a member of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse or BASTA.

Rizzo would be entitled to a state pension of more than $650,000 a year for life, according to calculations made by the Times. That would make Rizzo, 56, the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system.

Adams could get more than $411,000 a year.

Spaccia, 51, could be eligible for as much as $250,000 a year when she reaches 55, though the figure is less precise than for the other two officials, the Times said.

Saleh said the crowd applauded after the announcement but immediately yelled out questions about what would happen to the council members. Four of the five of them are paid close to $100,000 annually for part-time work. When the crowd's questions were not answered, they shouted, "Recall!, Recall!"

Revelations about the pay in Bell has sparked anger in the city of fewer than 40,000 residents. Census figures from 2008 show 17 percent of the population lives in poverty.

Enraged residents have staged protests demanding the firings and started a recall campaign against some council members.

"Woo-hoo, the salaries. Wow. What can I say? I think that's unbelievable," Christina Caldera, a 20-year resident of the city, said as she stood in line at a food bank.

Caldera, who is struggling after recently losing her job as a drug and alcohol counselor, said she generally was satisfied with the way the city was being run but felt high-paid officials should take a pay cut.

"What are they doing with all that money?" she asked. "Maybe they could put it into more jobs for other people."

Attempts to leave messages seeking comment from Rizzo and Spaccia failed because their voicemails were full. A message left for Adams was not immediately returned.

The county district attorney's office is investigating to determine if the high salaries for the council members violate any state laws. The City Council also intends to review city salaries, including those of its own members, according to Councilman Luis Artiga and Mayor Oscar Hernandez.

"We are going to analyze all the city payrolls and possibly will revise all the salaries of the city," Artiga said.

However, both men said they considered the City Council pay to be justified.

"We work a lot. I work with my community every day," the mayor said, as he shook hands with and embraced people leaving the food bank Thursday.

Council members are on call around the clock, and it is not uncommon for them to take calls in the middle of the night from people reporting problems with city services, Artiga said.

Though many residents are poor, Hernandez said they live in a city they can be proud of, one with a $22.7 million budget surplus, clean streets, refurbished parks and numerous programs for people of all ages. He pointed proudly down a street to a park filled with new exercise equipment.

When Rizzo arrived 17 years ago, Hernandez said, the city was $13 million in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. Rizzo obtained government grants to aid the city, the mayor said.

Rizzo was arrested near his home in Huntington Beach in March and charged with misdemeanor drunken driving. He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court for an Aug. 5 hearing, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.

The Los Angeles Times reported the salaries last week, prompting a large protest Monday at City Hall in which residents shouted and demanded that Rizzo be fired.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office has launched an investigation in conjunction with the state's public employee retirement agency into pension and related benefits for Bell's civic leaders.

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* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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Wow! He makes more in one month than most people make in a year. Haha! This is great. I should've became a career politician.

Edited by IndigoSkies

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27-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form delivered/picked up by USCIS

01-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form fee check cashed by USCIS

04-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form received per NOA1

09-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 notice date

14-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 on hand through USPS

30-JAN-2017 -:- N400 fingerprint taken

01-FEB-2017 -:- N400 interview schedule process started

26-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview date set (01SEP2017)

29-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview letter on hand

01-SEP-2017 -:- N400 interview date - Interview passed

10-OCT-2017-:- N400 oath ceremony letter on hand (oath on 26OCT2017)

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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Were they tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail? :unsure:

those amounts for the pensions may be one reason cali is having a budget problem...


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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That's some pension. No wonder Cali is broke.


"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006



barack-cowboy-hat.jpg
90f.JPG

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Only resignation? I hope they are made to pay back the money that the extorted (yes, it seems like extortion to me) out of good people of California.


N400 CITIZENSHIP STAGE

23-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form mailed to Dallas, TX Lockbox (USPS EXPRESS)

27-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form delivered/picked up by USCIS

01-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form fee check cashed by USCIS

04-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form received per NOA1

09-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 notice date

14-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 on hand through USPS

30-JAN-2017 -:- N400 fingerprint taken

01-FEB-2017 -:- N400 interview schedule process started

26-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview date set (01SEP2017)

29-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview letter on hand

01-SEP-2017 -:- N400 interview date - Interview passed

10-OCT-2017-:- N400 oath ceremony letter on hand (oath on 26OCT2017)

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Only resignation? I hope they are made to pay back the money that the extorted (yes, it seems like extortion to me) out of good people of California.


N400 CITIZENSHIP STAGE

23-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form mailed to Dallas, TX Lockbox (USPS EXPRESS)

27-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form delivered/picked up by USCIS

01-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form fee check cashed by USCIS

04-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form received per NOA1

09-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 notice date

14-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 on hand through USPS

30-JAN-2017 -:- N400 fingerprint taken

01-FEB-2017 -:- N400 interview schedule process started

26-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview date set (01SEP2017)

29-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview letter on hand

01-SEP-2017 -:- N400 interview date - Interview passed

10-OCT-2017-:- N400 oath ceremony letter on hand (oath on 26OCT2017)

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Only resignation? I hope they are made to pay back the money that the extorted (yes, it seems like extortion to me) out of good people of California.

Holy! **! Now I'm doint triple posts. What's going on?


N400 CITIZENSHIP STAGE

23-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form mailed to Dallas, TX Lockbox (USPS EXPRESS)

27-DEC-2016 -:- N400 form delivered/picked up by USCIS

01-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form fee check cashed by USCIS

04-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form received per NOA1

09-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 notice date

14-JAN-2017 -:- N400 form NOA1 on hand through USPS

30-JAN-2017 -:- N400 fingerprint taken

01-FEB-2017 -:- N400 interview schedule process started

26-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview date set (01SEP2017)

29-JUL-2017 -:- N400 interview letter on hand

01-SEP-2017 -:- N400 interview date - Interview passed

10-OCT-2017-:- N400 oath ceremony letter on hand (oath on 26OCT2017)

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