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The compensation scandal in the city of Bell; Haiti's problems; EBay's customer service

July 25, 2010

Bell's off-the-charts pay scale for officials

Re "3 Bell officials asked to resign," July 21, and "Bell scandal may spur a civic shift," July 22

If we voters fail to be vigilant, our communities will continue to be vulnerable to the abuse of corrupt and misguided managers and elected officials.

While working-class voters don't have much time to spare between earning a living and raising their families, finding the time to participate in city government is integral to a well-run city that serves the needs of its residents rather than the whims of self-serving council members and managers.

Get informed by attending regular city council meetings, educate your neighbors and hold your elected representatives accountable with your vote at the ballot box.

Jason Stinnett

Commerce

We want to commend The Times for its articles regarding compensation for appointed officials in the city of Bell.

The amount of compensation being paid to the chief administrative officer and others in Bell was surprising. The publication of that compensation serves a legitimate public service and provides us the ability to submit these comments:

As retired city managers each with more than 35 years of service to California communities, we must state for the record that the compensation provided to Bell's chief administrative officer is not at all reflective of compensation provided to professional local government managers.

What's more, today many city and county administrators and other officials are not only deferring compensation increases but are reducing their own salaries and benefits to help local governments balance budgets.

While the ultimate decision about compensation is the responsibility of local elected officials, it is also the responsibility of professional local government managers to assure that their compensation is within reasonable, acceptable norms.

Local government professional managers should be compensated fairly, equitably and with recognition of services provided.

Compensation in Bell far exceeds these standards.

Kevin O'Rourke

Fairfield, Calif.

Dave Mora

Salinas

The writers are members and former officers of the International City / County Management Assn.

If anyone should resign, it's the Bell City Council.

As despicable as this compensation may be, it is not the fault of the three individuals in question; they have broken no law or trust.

On the other hand, the members of the City Council did break the trust of the people of Bell by irresponsibly approving these salaries and the lopsided contracts that place the city in its predicament.

Jason Levi

Northridge

Haiti's tragic history lesson

Re "Haiti's ongoing disaster," Editorial, July 19

The Times writes of Haiti's "haphazard and corrupt governance" as if this nation evolved in a vacuum.

To understand Haiti's current status, one must review its history.

Haiti was founded by kidnapped West Africans who were enslaved by the French. While slavery still thrived in the United States, the Haitians overthrew their slave masters (defeating French, British and Spanish armies in the process) and established their own republic in 1804. As a direct result, France lost two-thirds of its income from trade and was forced to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States for the bargain price of $15 million.

For more than 200 years the Western world has punished the Haitian people for their successful revolution. Haiti has endured military invasions, gunboat blockades, economic embargoes, trade barriers, diplomatic quarantines, subsidized armed subversions, Western-backed dictators and defamation by the media.

Haiti's misery, poverty and instability are largely due to the collective determination of former

colonists to prevent its success.

Legrand H. Clegg II

Compton

Parole in a high-profile case

Re "Where tragedy and fame collided," July 17

I can understand the emotions the Rizzo and Sinatra families have had in the 18 years since Jilly Rizzo's terrible death.

I am struck, however, that with the exception of two of Rizzo's sons, there seems to be nothing in their hearts but the need for revenge against Rizzo's killer, convicted drunk driver Jeffrey Perrotte. Neither Assistant District Atty. Judy Buck, Commissioner Lea Ann Chrones nor the family seem to have given any thought to the positive force Perrotte might be in the community.

Chrones said that Perrotte had "not shown sufficient remorse or insight into how his abuse of alcohol had led to the crime."' Did not his "dozens of letter to alcohol abuse organizations … about the mistakes he made" count for anything?

I fervently hope that this decision had nothing to do with the status of those who wrote to demand that he not be given parole.

Susan Harrigan

San Diego

The joys of customer service

Re "Can you elaborate on that?," Opinion, July 21

Mark Steinberg's EBay customer service transcript made my day.

Dealing with EBay's "Live Help Team" is worse than having a tooth extracted.

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