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Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation: $787,637 a year

Top city officials in the small, relatively poor city of Bell might be the highest paid in the nation,  according to documents reviewed by The Times.

In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City's police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.

Experts in city government said they were amazed at the salaries the city pays, particularly Rizzo's. "I have not heard anything close to that number in terms of compensation or salary," said Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Assn., and a retired city manager.

By comparison, Manhattan Beach, a far wealthier city with about 7,000 fewer people, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year. The city manager of Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, earns $235,000 annually. Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka makes $338,458.

Top officials have routinely received hefty annual raises in recent years. Rizzo's contract calls for 12% raises each July, the same as his top deputy, according to documents obtained under the California Public Records Act.

Rizzo, who has run Bell's day-to-day civic affairs since 1993, was unapologetic about his salary.

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

Read the full story here.

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives


• Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo $787,637

President Barack Obama $400,000

• Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka $338,458

• Los Angeles City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana $256,803

• Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa $232,425

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi $223,500

• Dana Point City Manager Douglas Chotkevys $203,483

(Dana Point has the same population as Bell)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger $173,987

(Schwarzenegger has declined to take his salary)

• Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez $109,584

Source: Times reporting

Comments () | Archives (29)

There needs to be a major investigation into how this came to be.

These poor Latino dominated cities are run just like corrupt cities in Mexico. We've been importing this type of behavior from south of the border for decades now and it will only get worse. There is 'Chicago style' politics and now 'Latino Style' politics as seen in Maywood and Bell.

Isn't it amazing that the police will waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money to bust pot dealers, yet real crooks like Rizzo are walking the streets (in expensive shoes no doubt).

Wow--I just did some internet sleuthing and apparently the part-time city council members make over 8,000 a month (apparently far more than the avg for a city of Bell's size).

This is extremely high overhead for a working-class city of 40,000. These council members need to be voted out immediately and the city management replaced. These people are taking advantage of the City of Bell.

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

Go into private business and stop ripping off the citizens. You're a disgrace. How do you even justify that? Didn't Maywood just layoff almost the entire city staff including the police department?

The city manager makes how much?, Outrageous!

Bell, Maywood, all those 3rd world cities in that area are full of criminal corrupt officials and city leaders. All those cities should be investigated by the FBI and all should be taken over by authorities.

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


This arrogant parasite has found a niche in fleecing the inattentive taxpayers. He would be lucky to make 100K/year in the private sector.

Bachelor degree in Politial Science - U.C. Berkely - 1976
Master's in public administration - Calstate Hayward - 1980

He thinks he deserves $787,637/year managing 92 employees, in a tiny city of 34,000 low income residents.

The city council should be ashame of themselves to approve that kind of compensation. What a web of inverluted corruption.

So these white people are stealing latino tax payer money. Oh I forgot, it's legal to take advantage of disadvantaged communities.

@ boochie: Sadly, corruption, cronyism, and quid pro quo is part and parcel of most city governments in this day and age, even in cities that are not 'Latino dominated' read: Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and San Marino. It's just that in those type of cities, the pols and city staff members have learned to be a bit more slick.

It isn't the gross over-compensation these folks receive that shocks decent and moral people so much as the arrogant reply the manager proffers when he's questioned, ""If that's a number people choke on, maybe I'm in the wrong business," he said. "I could go into private business and make that money."

This dirty crook should face the citizens in an open forum and justify his salary. It's no wonder residents in the City of Bell are constantly harrassed by the local police department. The city leaders need all the extra money the can squeeze out of it's residents.

The person that approves his salary should be under investagation. How can the city so small and so poor afford to pay this man that much money. The questions is why and how. Something needs to be done, what happened to the peoples right.

A whole bunch of thiefs,starting with the city council,all they are doing is enriching themselves at the tax payers expense,thanks to the la times for uncovering such crimes,lets hope the State Attorney General follows up and files charges and cleans house at the City of Bell.


The resident of those cities is robbed in broad daylight.

Talk about bleeding the city funds. Time for pay cuts.

I completly agree with all of you. I wonder now what the people of Bell think or would do...

~This is of course criminal. It should be turned over to the D.A.'s office & investagated by the feds.

Keep this in the news.

We could have fun with this one....maybe get a political !! Wouldn't that be a welcomed change.

This kind of corruption stinks to high heaven. It represents everything that is wrong with this country and it's economy. Someone, (if they had the guts) should look into how Bell can afford this and where the money comes from.

Whoa, oh, run and take the money!

You have GOT to be KIDDING me! Absolutely despicable. These employees should be immediately fired together with the morons who set their pay. In a time when this country is in debt up to its ears, the last thing we need is this type of outright corruption in public offices.

The salary of the President of the United Staes is around 400k.
People in congress make less than 300k.
Obvious misuse of public funds.
Criminal investigation is definitely warranted.

Dear readers and community members,

Bluntly, so what if the salaries are higher than many other elected officials are.
Sounds to me like bell has a balanced budget, and is "expanding and helping the neighboring city of Maywoood' by taking over management and the residents of Bell enjoy a good community.

Perhaps all the other 'lower" paid elected officials should take note and Balance their budgets (Presidents, Governors and Mayors) and respectively act in accordance with good bossiness practices.

Independently speaking, as a former Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organizations of Los Angeles (www.EOnetwork.org) and a Board Member of the Valley Economic Alliance, I liken this as positive growth and security of a business. If Bell were a stand alone business it is doing what other cities would like, be out of debt and run rather well.. Looks to me like it is doing what the ARA funds care trying to do. Stimulate, and here it seems like long term growth and reward.. Uniquely on a small level like most independent businesses that make up America, Bell seems to have a positive impact, and its membership is reaping the benefit. Work hard and reward those at the top that help make a positive thing happen is what we do in business…Be seen, be heard and do a good job are supposed to be the principles of a good business..

Good for Bell, good for its citizens and good the communities surrounding it.

Gerald Olesker, sustainable entrepreneur will be speaking on "How to Make money Building Green” at the Rose Bowl next Friday.
http://adgwebnet.com/greenwordpress/archives/282and will mention Bell.

M A F I A $$$$$$$$$$$

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