Taxpayers Irate at City Leaders' High Salaries

Bell, Calif.
Irate taxpayers stormed the city hall in Bell, Calif. after finding out that the city manager is paid nearly $800,000 to run a town of just 37,000 people.
Despite its name, Bell, Calif., doesn't have much of a ring to it these days. Unemployment is 16 percent and most people in this blue collar town make about $30,000 - unless they work at City Hall, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

Irate taxpayers stormed the building after finding out that the city manager is paid nearly $800,000 to run a town of just 37,000 people.

"We're being ripped off, we're being looted by this administration and we want to put an end to it," said one protestor.

Robert Rizzo has run Bell for 17 years. His starting salary was a reported $72,000. Thanks to pay hikes and an automatic 12 percent annual raise, his salary has skyrocketed nearly 1,000 percent.

He now makes three times as much as the mayors of Los Angeles, $232,425, and Chicago, $216,210 and nearly twice as much as President Obama, $400,000. Rizzo doesn't even live in Bell, he lives in a million-dollar home near the ocean in Huntington Beach. Tracy went to City Hall to talk to him and he wasn't on the job.

Taxpayers are also angry that the city's police chief makes $457,000. That's twice a much as New York's police commissioner, $205,000, who leads nearly 35,000 officers. Bell's chief oversees 33.

"They asked me to come in and make an assessment and bring best practices to this police department, and I have diligently been trying to do that," said Bell's Police Chief Randy Adams.

Cristina Garcia is leading a grass-roots effort to have both men fired.

"When you think about the fact that you have a police chief earning half a million dollars, you could create 17 new police jobs with that," Garcia said.

Taxpayers also want the City Council that approved these salaries recalled. Those council members make nearly $100,000 and their jobs are part time.