Bell City Council cuts own salaries

(L-R) City of Bell council members Lorenzo Velez, vice mayor Teresa Jacobo mayor Oscar Hernandez, coucilmen George Mirabel, and Luis Artiga, listen to residents asking them to resign during a council meeting on July 26, 2010 in Bell, California. The council members have voted to cut their salaries in response to public outcry at city officials' high salaries.
(L-R) City of Bell council members Lorenzo Velez, vice mayor Teresa Jacobo mayor Oscar Hernandez, coucilmen George Mirabel, and Luis Artiga, listen to residents asking them to resign during a council meeting on July 26, 2010 in Bell, California. The council members have voted to cut their salaries in response to public outcry at city officials' high salaries. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Residents of Bell packed another City Council meeting Monday night, outraged over the council’s salaries and those of top administrators. The council responded to the concerns, but it wasn’t enough to quell calls for four of its members to resign. The council voted to slash its own salaries, but there was still an air of defiance.

Residents of Bell, California voiced their outrage during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The council, who had benefited from unusually high salaries along with other top administrators, voted to cut their own salaries by 90 percent – from nearly $100,000 a year to about $8,000 – for their part-time work.

Mayer Hernandez apologized for the first time on Monday. He said that he was not going to run for re-election and he would take no more money.

“Some of you have said that you are not seeking re-election,” challenged an enraged resident. “If you’re not seeking re-election then what’s the point of finishing your term? The damage is done! You cannot fix this anymore! We’ve lost complete trust in all of you.”

Other council members, such as Teresa Jacobo, attempted to defend themselves, even as the audience booed.

“I will not resign to my position,” stated Jacobo. “I am here to stand by my people. To make the changes necessary... to apologize for all this turmoil, and I will stand as a pillar that I have been since way before I was in the council.”

But the salary cuts and promises were not enough for most residents, especially as they watched their children’s after school programs getting cut due to budgeting.

“We want you guys all out!” cried another angry resident. “You should be in jail because you guys are stealing! We are in America where they promise us equality. This is not equality. Nobody should be above the law.”

It is clear that this is not over yet – in fact, it may be just the beginning. The residents of Bell say that they will launch a recall against four of the five councilmen.

“We ask you, leave,” said another resident. “Give us our city back.”

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