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Attorney general orders investigation into high City Hall salaries in Bell

July 22, 2010 |  4:21 pm

California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown today said he had ordered an investigation into high salaries paid to Bell’s elected leaders and top administrators, calling their compensation packages “almost beyond belief.”

Brown said the nearly $800,000-a-year salary of Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo and salaries paid to the city’s police chief, assistant city manager and City Council “morally borders on a gift of public funds.”

Brown said he had directed attorneys in his office to “exhaust every possibility under California law’’ to determine if the city leaders had acted illegally. He expects a report back within days, the attorney general said.

“It certainly doesn’t seem that the council exercised it’s fiduciary duty to the people of Bell,’’ Brown said.

Rizzo’s $787,637 annual pay is believed to make him the highest-paid city manager in California and possibly the nation. Police Chief Randy Adams earns $457,000 a year and Asst. City Manager Angela Spaccia is paid $376,288, more than most city managers.

Four of the five City Council members earn nearly $100,000 a year for their part-time service.

Brown noted that the high salaries enabled the city leaders to become eligible for similarly out-sized pensions. Rizzo, 55, will take home more than $600,000 a year in retirement pay if forced from his job as expected. Adams, 59, would receive about $411,000 and Spaccia, 51, about $250,000.

“Pensions, of course, are connected to salaries,’’ Brown told The Times. “Capping salaries is just as important as capping excessive pensions.”

-- Catherine Saillant