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BEACHCOMBER: Thinking of Bell (7-29-10)

  • By David Barron

DavidBarronThe last few days, we have all been reading the headlines and stories about the City of Bell. It is deeply disturbing to all of us that people took advantage of the trust placed in them by the residents of Bell.

For those of us who live in other cities, it has given us a lot to think about and  raises questions we would like answered.
How much are our city elected officials paid? Do they get any special perks?  Do we have to worry about anything going on that might embarrass us?

Let’s take a look at salaries for local elected officials.

In Monterey Park elected city officials get $500 a month, plus medical insurance.

In Rosemead, Council members do somewhat better. They get $1,268 a month and medical insurance.

Water boards and other agencies made up of elected city officials also get similar stipends.  Council members may get additional amount for serving on the redevelopment agency and for service on various boards.

Being an elected official in both these cities is supposed to be a part-time job.

What about full time elected positions?

Last year, L.A. Weekly published a report on the big salaries of Los Angeles City Council Members. You can look it up yourself at

os Angeles City Council members, who are considered full-time, earn more than $14,000 per month, plus a lot of perks.
These L.A. Council members represent districts that are bigger than most cities in the country.

Local U.S. Congressmen such as Judy Chu and Adam Schiff get an annual base salary of  $174,000 year. There are other perks, however, that raise this amount. (You can go to for more salary information for Congress.)

I could go on and on listing many offices such as judges,  Sheriffs, police chiefs, county clerks, county assessors, city managers, etc.

Needless to say, local elected officials and high level appointed officials get big salaries, just like top level executives at many corporations.

But if you are unemployed or are only paid a modest amount it can really get the juices flowing.

I am not defending what the officials in Bell have apparently done. I think they  should be taken out and whipped and all their benefits and retirements confiscated by the court.

I am just very surprised that so few people voted in that city’s special election that allowed them to boost their council salaries.

An elected official is just an employee – you need to keep on top of them to make sure they are doing their job and not dipping into the till.

No matter where you live, its your job to watch them.  Do you know the name of your council representatives?

You should attend city council meetings or watch them on cable TV.

You need to vote at city elections because city like Monterey Park, only 30% or about 4,000 of the25,000 registered voters bother to go to the polls on city election days.

That number is more embarrassing when you figure out that there are about 65,000 residents in the city.

That means that four thousand people, plus five more, are making the big decisions in this city.

I recall talking with one local resident and tried to convince them to vote in the city election. His answer was that he only voted in the BIG elections every four years.

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