Three Bell officials resign over pay scandal

Bell residents wait as the city council deliberates the fate of three top administrators.
Bell residents wait as the city council deliberates the fate of three top administrators.
Frank Stoltze

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The three top administrators whose exorbitant salaries sparked outrage in the tiny city of Bell in Southeast L.A. agreed to resign Thursday night.

The announcement came at midnight after a more than six-hour closed door meeting of the Bell City Council.

Chief Administrative Robert Rizzo made nearly $800,000, Police Chief Randy Adams nearly $500,000 and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia almost $400,000 - all numbers far above their counterparts in other cities.

The council voted to suspend all of them without pay until their resignations take effect - in August for Rizzo and Adams, in September for Spaccia. Bell's city attorney said he believed they would be able to keep their pensions. State officials are looking into that issue. The Los Angeles Times has reported Rizzo would receive more than $650,000 a year for life.

None of the top administrators attended the meeting to decide their fate. Rizzo's been with the city for nearly two decades.

“I can tell you that it was intense – very emotional," Councilman Lorenzo Velez said of the meeting.

Councilmembers are on the hot seat too. With the exception of Velez, who was appointed last year, all make nearly $100,000 for their part-time work in this working class Latino city.

Many Bell residents want the council to resign too, and chanted "recall" after the meeting.

Ali Saleh of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse said councilmembers are overpaid, and failed to rein in Rizzo.

“There’s not faith in them anymore for them to stay any longer," he said.

He said if Mayor Oscar Hernandez and three other councilmembers don't resign by Monday, the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse will start working to recall them.

Council members are expected to discuss their own pay at a meeting Monday.

Residents promised to keep up the heat.

“They woke up a sleeping giant and this sleeping giant isn’t going to sleep until they’re gone," said Miguel Sanchez.

The Los Angeles District Attorney and California Attorney General are also looking into the pay scales for councilmembers and administrators in Bell.

The AP contributed to this story.