Calif. City Officials Resign Over Outrage At Salaries
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From member station KPCC, Frank Stoltze reports.
FRANK STOLTZE: Angry residents waited until the Bell city council finished a marathon closed-door meeting at midnight to hear the news.
(SOUNDBITE OF MEETING)
NORRIS: Number one, the chief administrative officer, Mr. Robert Rizzo, has resigned effective August 30th, 2010.
STOLTZE: Unidentified Group: Recall, recall, recall, recall.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
STOLTZE: Ali Saleh is with the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse.
ALI SALEH: There's no faith in them anymore for them to stay any longer.
STOLTZE: Bell sits about 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Its 40,000 residents are 90 percent Latino. More than half are foreign born. Like most municipalities, Bell has laid off workers as it struggles with declining tax revenues. Still, Mayor Oscar Hernandez defended city salaries to local television station KTLA.
OSCAR HERNANDEZ: Unidentified Man #2: How do you justify $800,000 in a city this small and this poor?
HERNANDEZ: The only thing I say - this community, they're receiving a good service.
STOLTZE: That hasn't convinced State Attorney General Jerry Brown, who's opened an investigation into Bell's pay practices. Councilman Lorenzo Velez receives a fraction of his colleagues' salary. He said he only became aware of the big salaries recently. And that the scandal sends a message.
LORENZO VELEZ: It's important for everybody everywhere, wherever you are to stay aware of what's going on in your municipality and your city hall.
STOLTZE: For NPR News, I'm Frank Stoltze in Los Angeles.
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