Over the last month, the drama in the city of Bell has been unfolding since the news on the extremely high salaries of certain city officials broke, among them Bell Police Chief Randy Adams, the former police chief in Glendale. The salaries ranged from $450,000 to $800,000 in a city of about 40,000 residents, located south of downtown Los Angeles.
In addition, four of the five city council members are getting paid close to $100,000 annually for sitting on various commissions, though they are technically part-time employees. The chief of the district attorney's Public Integrity Division, David Demerjian and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown are looking into the situation.
Two things led to this. First, the city's leadership authorized a ballot measure for a special election that made Bell a "charter" city, allowing it to avoid a state law enacted that same year in 2005 that imposed salary caps for city councils. Only 400 of the city's 40,000 residents voted in that election, yet no public official saw an issue with this. The second factor was public apathy toward the city's affairs and city council decisions.