Bell coverage resonates with readers

The Times first alerted readers to the high salaries paid to city of Bell officials in an article July 15 headlined “Is a city manager worth $800,000?”

The controversy following the report has led to the resignation of the city manager, the assistant city manager and the police chief; and officials around the state have discussed damage control in their own cities.

(The story continues to develop, with L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky proposing Tuesday that the county post the salaries of department heads and California state Comptroller John Chiang announcing that his office will begin posting salary information for elected officials and other city employees.)

Readers have been writing and calling The Times to express thanks for the investigation. A sampling of their comments:

For those who would question the value and importance of newspapers in our daily life, one need only see what careful, investigative reporting has accomplished for the citizens of the city of Bell. Without your reporters uncovering this fiasco, the citizens of Bell would still be paying for a highly suspect group of grossly overpaid city employees.

— Hal Gold, Woodland Hills

The real story in the expose of the obscene salaries of Bell city officials is the role of the Los Angeles Times in uncovering the story. The role of the free press, the 4th estate, has never been better displayed. Kudos to you! We can only hope that in this era of a  declining print media that you, and other journalists, are able to devote enough resources to keep government, at all levels, honest.

— John Hammargren, La Mirada

Kudos to the two journalists who did their homework and discovered this horrible injustice.  I hope The Times publishes a list of cities in California that are similar to Bell in demographics, municipal revenues and population and show the salaries of the top three city officials in those other cities. Thanks for encouraging more government transparency.

— Fred Stern, Los Angeles

Just want to thank you for breaking this important story. This is what the people’s right to know is about. Looking forward to your continued coverage as this outrage continues to unfold.

— Tonya Gipson, Orange

I am a retired police officer from Bell, retired in 1979. I love the city; I moved there in 1940 and went in the U.S. Navy in 1953 at age 17. I appreciate the L.A. Times bringing the story to light on the Bell salaries. It is really sad. Bell’s government has really changed over the years.

— Frank Blake, Bell

I am an avid reader of The Times, and it is reporting on issues such as the city of Bell official’s salaries that I will continue to be a reader. For all its power and influence, the Internet will never replace a hometown paper as a watchdog for its citizens. Thank you for uncovering what is sure to be one of the most talked about issues for some time to come.

— Jim Garcia, Monrovia


This column was originally published on on August 3, 2010.

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