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Part-Time Bell City Council to Consider Lowering their $100K Salaries

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Exposed and hung in the court of public opinion, the Bell City Council today will discuss their salaries and the possibility of lowering them, according to the LA Times. As City Councilmembers, they get very little compensation, but they get paid extremely high amounts to serve on other city commissions and panels, some that rarely meet and when they do, sometimes meeting for only a minute.

"These outrageous salaries in Bell are shocking and beyond belief," Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a statement last week. "With record deficits and painful budget cuts facing California cities, astronomical local government salaries raise serious questions and demand a thorough investigation."

Brown will be in Los Angeles today to discuss the probe with the press. His office will examine records to determine whether any illegality, self-dealing, or other improper activity occurred in Bell or other cities and counties in the state.

City Councilmembers found a loophole in state law to give themselves the high salaries. After a 2005 law stopped excessive salaries for part-time city councils like Bell's, they took an initiative to a special election where few voters participated. A measure that changed the city from a "general" city to a "charter" city was approved, thus apparently allowing high salaries for little work.

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Last week, three highly paid employees agreed to resign. They may, however, still receive extremely high pensions.