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Bell Councilmembers Agree to Cut Salaries as Allegations of Voting Irregularities are Filed

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Bell City Councilmembers yesterday voted to decrease their part-times salaries by 90%. That means their $96,000 salaries will now be just over $8,000. The move comes after a LA Times investigation that revealed their and top officials' salaries -- for example, the city manager was being paid nearly $800,000 a year -- prompting community anger and a movement to remove elected officials from office. Two councilmembers, Mayor Oscar Hernandez and Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo said they would finish their terms without pay.

Further investigation by the Times has found that as Bell increased salaries for its top officials, funding for employees and programs were cut. While the police chief was getting paid $457,000 -- that's a lot more than LAPD Chief Charlie Beck -- funding for police officer training was cut. Some employees who were paid $9 per hour lost their jobs because of the city's so-called budget situation.

Additionally, a former police sergeant this week filed a lawsuit against the city allegeding that off duty police officers went around the city bringing absentee ballots to voters and telling them which way to vote. Ballots were also filled out for deceased people and his raising concern over the issue led to a demotion before he eventually retired to avoid being fired.