Bell, California: little town, big problems. Eight city officials were arrested there yesterday, including city council members, the city manager, and the mayor, whose door was battered down by the police. The worst part? It wasn't a surprise.
Ever since the LAT broke the story earlier this summer of Bell's outrageous salaries for city officials (Sample: City manager Robert Rizzo was earning $787,000, for managing a city of less than 40,000 people), everyone's been wondering when the hammer would finally come down. Bell somehow managed to get more and more shocking as more of its city government was investigated—it wasn't just a few bad apples enriching themselves at the public till, it was almost all the apples. The city council members; the police chief; from top to bottom, the city paid its officials some of the highest salaries in America. It's a good illustration of what can happen when people have the power to appoint those who will set their salaries. (We're looking at you, corporate "compensation committees"). One councilman, Lorenzo Velez, received about an $8,000 per year salary; the rest of his colleagues paid themselves nearly $100K per year.
Good riddance to all of them, and may they serve as an example to every elected official in America, from jail. The fun part: those arrested yesterday are technically still in charge, according to the LAT. "Unless the four charged council members are convicted of felonies, removed from office by recall, or resign, they will remain the elected leaders of Bell, officials said."
What we need are term limits, followed by mandatory public floggings upon completion of said terms.