Government Reform Bell, Calif. Protests Turn Into a Tax Revolt


Should a city manager from one of Los Angeles County's poorest cities earn twice as much as President Obama?

Residents from the working-class town of Bell erupted in outrage after learning that their city pays its officials some of the highest local-government salaries in the nation, including City Manager Robert Rizzo who takes home nearly $800,000 per year.

City of Bell protest.

Rizzo has resigned, as have some of Bell's other top-earning government officials. But on Monday evening frustrated residents gathered at a city council meeting to demand more resignations and an end to what they regard as widespread corruption.

In addition to disgust at the current leadership , many residents denounced the increasing cost and dwindling value of government services. Bell's median income is about $30,000 per year, and yet taxes, fees and regulations are among the most punishing in one of the nation's most punitive counties. spoke with protesters furious with high taxes, cronyism, and inflated public-sector compensation.

Approximately 3 minutes. Produced by Ted Balaker and Tim Cavanaugh, who also hosts. Camera by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos. Edited by Weissmueller.

NEXT: Bell, Calif. Protests Turn Into a Tax Revolt

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  1. They object to taxation? Obviously, they have to be motivated by racism. They weren’t complaining when Bush was in office.

    1. proof of the power of US constitutional rights…if they had protested their corrupt cities and states back in mexico and central america, maybe they wouldnt of had a need to immigrate here………..just saying……….

      1. In some of those countries, if they had protested then they definitely would have had to come here. The older man has been here 38 years, so I think he has a right to protest here.

    2. …straight up

    3. Interestingly, cable news is covering this “outrage” a little differently than last August’s town-hall meetings, wherein mostly disaffected Republicans were the “frustrated residents gathered at [meetings].” Last year it was a violent, racist insurrection led by fat, stupid white people. This year it’s a “tax protest” by “working-class poor.” The MSM seems to be oblivious to the fact that both protests have their roots in a genuine disgust and hatred of big government and all its attendant corruption.

      1. You were surprised, sun?

  2. What’s with all the Hispanic teabaggers? Are they self-hating latinos or something?

    1. Where’s a wise Latino woman when you need one?

  3. But… but… taxes are good!

    1. And higher taxes on evil rich people will ensure everyone gets a share of the pie!

      1. Getting rid of the Bush tax cuts won’t be enough. We need $20/gal gas taxes, or we’ll all die of TEH EXTERNALITIES!!!!1!

        1. Go suck Ron Paul’s cock, Bell tax protesters!!!

          1. We need a 90% tax rate.

            Not marginal… on every dollar over $100K income, single or married.

            1. Good… good… let the hate flow through you…

              1. Kruggie as Der Emperor Palpatine? I like it.

      2. Yea….how dare those “evil rich people”of Bell,Ca. protest their local officials, dont the residents realize the officials are only trying to get a share of “their” pie

      3. Re: “will ensure everyone gets a share of the pie!”

        How’d that work out with housing?

      4. “….ensure everyone gets a share of the pie!”………..FUCK THAT!! I dont want a share of the pie,GIVE ME THE RECIPE, I’LL MAKE MY OWN DAMN PIE!!!!

        1. Would you hurry up and make that pie, I’m hungry.

          1. Wait your turn. We all deserve a piece of his pie.

  4. I don’t know that it’s far to proclaim “corruption from top to bottom” in Bell. As I recall, there was a lone councilman making the standard $8,000 minimum. (The sap.)

    1. In Springfield MO (population, roughly 160,000), neither the mayor nor council make ANY money for their services. Okay, there’s an expense account, with a definitely tiny limit, but they don’t get paid for serving. One of my colleagues has to take off work to attend daytime functions related to his councilman status.

      1. as it should be. “PUBLIC SERVICE” shouldnt be a career option.

        1. I’m not disagreeing, but we’d have to make ALL political service unpaid. Doubt Obama’s going to give up his cushy gig that easily.

          1. i really wouldnt have a problem so much with pay,…say ‘average prevailing wage’ per year, ….but this thing with 150% pensions and bennies for life shat…….HELL NO!!!

            1. Make “Public Service” gratis and all you do is create an even greater incentive for those people to bribe and grift the system.

              I’m not saying that paying them will stop corruption or other rent seeking…just that there is no silver bullet. You need to be vigilant.

              1. My colleague is a bit of an anomaly: He punches a time clock, owns no rental property or business, and does not profit from or even seek same from his council position.

                Probably the only one of his kind in the history of this town.

                1. You’re in Springfield? I’m just a hop and a skip away, in Joplin.

                  1. Hail, fellow Missourian! How does it feel to be a toothless, inbred, racist hick according to the non-elitist Democrats around these parts?

  5. Do you hear Chanel me,Talking to you Across,the water across the deep blue ocean,
    Under the open sky oh my, I’m trying.Boy I hear you in my dreams,
    I hear your whisper across the sea,I keep you with me in my heart,
    You Chanel bags make it easier when life gets hard.
    I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend.zf

  6. *Finally* a story that isn’t about unfair zoning restrictions on bukkake filming, or lanyard-wearing tattooed DC bloggers in a fetal position singing “Guilty of Being White” incessantly to themselves.

    Ahem. If you open up ye olde Thomas Guide you’ll see Bell is right off I-710. CLEARLY this is all about the South Pas/San Marino gap–a conquest that has captivated the errant dreams of the Powers That Be for decades. Bell is roughly equidistant between the 105 and the 10/Pomona Fwy interchange. It is the keystone to their entire plan. CAN’T YOU SEE

    1. Translation: *Finally* a story with Latinos in it. God it makes me feels so good to talk about minorities. Now I can show all my liberal friends how enlightened I am!

      1. Translation: I’m a bitter old liberal who doesn’t really give a shit about minorities but I resent it when it looks like they are supporting the other team.

    2. Hey,

      Bukkake should be allowed to be filmed anywhere. There should be no zoning restrictions at all. Fascist!

    3. Translation: Me no understand how libertarians want one set of rules for rich and poor ??

    4. I seem to recall many articles on how innocent people are going to jail in Reason. I’m sure that at least a few of them were minorities, weren’t they? Oh, that’s right, you don’t really care about those people, do you Heller?

      1. LOL, I care about the rights of everyone. I’m just not obsessed with making sure everyone is talking about minorities as much as they’re talking about white people. I really don’t give a flying fuck about race, unlike you. Take Morgan Freeman’s advice on how to solve the race problem: Just stop talking about it.

        1. Wonder how much hate mail Freeman got for that… from his own “people”.

          1. I’m sure Al Sharpton called him an Uncle Tom or whatever label he uses these days for people he disagrees with.

          2. I doubt that pretension self-hating scribblers are “his people”.

  7. “Should a city manager from one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities earn twice as much as President Obama?”

    Put it another way:
    Obama should make half of the night janitor at the office. At least he isn’t bankrupting the country, so he’s doing at least twice as good as Obama.

  8. I wonder if Rizzo can get his student loans forgiven for serving a higher purpose. A higher calling. This one is pretty easy: this is obviously some form of racism directed at Obama for simply encouraging youngsters to serve a higher purpose. Now small-town latinos are racists. It’s almost as if tax is a code word. “No More Taxes” translation: “No More Black President” These tea partyin’ anti-tax sons-of-bitches are destroyin’ the country like a cancer.

    1. and there is no cure yet for this cancer. BWAAHAAAHAAA!!!!!

  9. Does anyone know how these salaries are set in Bell? I haven’t seen anything about how this all came to be.

    1. “Council members drove up their salaries by earning stipends for serving on various boards or commissions, all of which generally met ? often very briefly ? during council meetings. In their agreement Monday, council members said the $673-a-month salary will reflect their total pay.”…..0663.story
      I’d also read that the raises were some part of a ballot measure. Whether the increases were, shall we say, ‘hidden’, or whether the voters approved them knowingly, I can’t say.
      CA voters are *not* noted for rationality; we (not me) voted for the high-speed-porkbarrel….

    2. I don’t see what the big deal is anyways. It’s a good thing if Rizzo and others like him get $800,000 a year. Think of how much money he will pump back into the economy. In fact, if every public servant was getting 10 billion each, Bell would be a commercial hotbed. You idiots can’t even understand simple demand-side econ-101.

      1. Hey, those gold-plated faucets don’t just install themselves!

  10. I’m sorry. You guys just don’t understand how simple economics work. If you pay a city manager $800,000, that translates into a $2.7 million dollar boon to the economy. Sheesh, are you people stupid or what. The more money the government spends, the better off everyone is. I mean it’s common sense. What do I have to do to get through to you people.

    1. ………and if the city gives each resident $80,000 dollars,that translates into …..ummm…gadzillion dollar boon to the economy,but[in a cheesy aussie accent]WHERE ARE THEY GOING TO GET THE MONEY???

      1. From the helicopter, of course.

    2. And the children

      1. for the children from the children

        its poetic

        1. Nice

  11. I look at this as a lesson that,”yes, you really do need to vote, because someone else is going to vote and they are probably voting themselves money.”

  12. If you ever want a glimpse of the public service mentality in California, quoth Robert Rizzo:

    “If that’s a number people choke on, maybe I’m in the wrong business. I could go into private business and make that money. This council has compensated me for the job I’ve done.”

    Because matching $800,000 per year and retiring with a $650,000 inflation-indexed pension at 55 is so easy. I eagerly await his private-sector debut.

    Part of the issue is that Bell has a huge immigrant population (hence all the Hispanics), which unfortunately distorts the point that Bell’s woes are unique only in magnitude. Sure, the demographics made it easier for crooks in government to take advantage of the Bell population, but corrupt public administration is a problem in many California cities.

    1. “If that’s a number people choke on, maybe I’m in the wrong business.”

      Also, I want my life back.

  13. Ok, I think it’s time for me to open the online store I’ve been thinking about for a long time. “”, your one-stop shop for all your government interaction needs. We’ve got tar, we’ve got feathers, we’ve got pitchforks, torches, pillories, and everything else you need to vigorously express your dissatisfaction with elected officials and bureaucrats.


  14. My, my, my, just look at all those Latino tea partiers.

  15. Thanks for sharing excellent informations.

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