California Subpoenas LA Suburb Records in Salary Probe

July 26, 2010 - 2:59 PM
California's attorney general said Monday he has subpoenaed hundreds of records from a Los Angeles suburb under investigation for sky-high salaries paid to its leaders.

Tony Rosas of Bell, Calif., puts together a table at Affordable Furniture store in Bell, Calif., Friday, July 23, 2010. Revelations about Bell city leaders' pay has sparked anger in the blue-collar town and has led to resignations by three top city administrators. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Bell, Calif. (AP) - California's attorney general said Monday he has subpoenaed hundreds of records from a Los Angeles suburb under investigation for sky-high salaries paid to its leaders.
 
Attorney General Jerry Brown demanded to see employment contracts from the city of Bell within 48 hours to determine whether to file charges.
 
The move followed last week's resignation of Bell's city manager, assistant manager and police chief. They earned a total of more than $1.6 million a year to run the poverty-plagued city of about 40,000 people.
 
The administrators also could make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in state pensions. Brown said his office and the state public employee pension fund were reviewing salaries in other communities around the state.
 
The mayor and other leaders also could find their jobs in jeopardy.
 
The Bell City Council called a meeting for Monday to discuss the future of the city. Activists were expected to demand salary cuts or resignations from the four council members who make more than $100,000 a year for their part-time work.
 
The Bell Association to Stop the Abuse has threatened to recall the council members if they don't resign or lower their own salaries.
 
Nearly 300 raucous protesters marched Sunday to the homes and workplaces of the mayor, vice mayor and two council members yelling "Fuera!" or "Out!" Some carried signs and wore T-shirts proclaiming, "My city is more corrupt than your city," and passed out fliers urging people to attend the council 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 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.
 
Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez and three of the council's four other members make about $100,000 a year, most of it in salaries for sitting on various boards and commissions. Councilman Lorenzo Velez makes a modest salary of about $8,000 a year.
 
If there is a recall, the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse said it would like Velez to stay on the council and work toward reforming government in the city where one in six people live in poverty and about half are foreign-born.