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Defiant Bell mayor defends city manager's high salary, hours after official resigns

  Bell-mayor

A defiant Bell City Council defended the hefty compensation awarded to City Manager Robert Rizzo and two other officials just hours after the three agreed to resign amid a public outcry.

In the city's first formal statement on the salary issue, Bell released a letter from Mayor Oscar Hernandez in which he praised Rizzo's service to the city and said his nearly $800,000 annual salary was justified.

"Unlike the skewed view of the facts, the Los Angeles Times presented to advance the paper's own agenda, a look at the big picture of city compensation shows that salaries of the City Manager and other top city staff have been in line with similar positions over the period of their tenure," Hernandez said in the letter.

Hernandez did address the outrage generated after The Times revealed the salaries last week, adding: "We recognize that today's economic climate and the financial hardships so many families are suffering put our past compensation decisions in a new light.  To the residents of Bell, we apologize."

As part of the resignations, Rizzo, Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia will not receive severance packages. Rizzo will step down at the end of August and Spaccia will leave at the end of September. Adams also will leave at the end of August after completing an evaluation of the Police Department.

Rizzo earns nearly $800,000 a year, believed to make him the highest-paid city manager in California and possibly the nation. Adams makes $457,000 — 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck — and Spaccia makes $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

The decision was announced at midnight to a crowd of angry Bell residents that had been waiting anxiously since 4:30 p.m. when the City Council began its meeting. None of the administrators attended the session. The crowd erupted in applause after the announcement but immediately yelled out questions about what would happen to the council members. Four of the five are paid close to $100,000 annually. When residents' questions were not answered, they shouted, "Recall!"

"Definitely letting go of these three top officials is the first step we need to fix the city," said Cristina Garcia, a member of BASTA, or the Bell Assn. to Stop the Abuse.

Throughout the evening, several residents complained that the council was taking too long, while others clapped in unison to urge the members to come out.

"This is outrageous," said Marcelino Ceja, who has lived in the city for 17 years. "They have to hurry up. I've got kids to feed."

The emergency meeting followed several days of negotiations between the officials and attorneys for the city to reach deals.The crowd began shouting when Councilman Lorenzo Velez's request to open the meeting to the public was overruled by the city attorney, who said the city would be at legal risk if it discussed personnel matters in public.

-- Ruben Vives at Bell City Hall

Photo: Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez listens as the resignations of the police chief, city manager and assistant city manager are announced after the City Council met behind closed doors for nearly six hours. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

 

 
Comments () | Archives (238)

I am pleased that Mr. Rizzo actively sought out other funds for "his city," and wish Los Angeles and the other cities of So Cal did the same.

However, it doesn't nearly justify his salary. That's as obvious as the sun and surf.

OUT OSCAR HERNANDEZ, A THUG AND A CRIMINAL! HE'S DONE NOTHING BUT STEAL WAY BEFORE HE WAS ELECTED A MAJOR! HE HAS A CORNER STORE CLOSE TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN THE CITY AND HAS RIPPED KIDS OFF SINCE HE OPENED! THIS GUY HAS FACILITATED HIS OWN CITY PERMITS TO RUN HIS BUSINESS AND HAS NOT ALLOWED ANYONE ELSE TO OPEN AND COMPETE WITH HIM THE AREA! HOPEFULLY LA TIMES PICKS UP ON THIS AND FINDS OUT WHAT HE HAS DONE BY GIVING HIMSELF ILLEGALY THE PERMITS NECESSARY TO RUN AND EXPAND HIS BUSINESS! OUT WITH OSCAR!!! OUT WITH OSCAR!!!!

Recall the mayor! One side of his mouth says he understands the people and their outrage and the other side of his mouth says the high salary is justified. The two together do not make sense and sound like a big, fat lie.

congratulations and good job to the people of bell who raised hell after all nothing happens until we get vocal and you people should be commended for you excellent excercising of your rights as americans in fact i would say you are true americans thats what is supossed to happen, they work for you and me but if we fall asleep at the wheel the sharks and jackals and wolfs move in for the kill, also let this be a lesson just because a candidate looks like you, latino,black,white,yellow,blue =,purple doesnt mean they are there for you remember - absolute power corrupts absolutely - god bless the people of bell - a south gate resident

The only way that the City Manager could deserve that amount was if he somehow had generated savings (annual at that) of three to four times that much from innovations that resulted in greater service levels to the citizens. These innovations could not be anything that any other City does too, because then they were not his idea. I do not believe they can show that, thus he is only doing the same thing that other city managers do and should be paid the prevailing wages. Now that being said, Bell cannot be harder to manage than say a Long Beach, Anaheim, or Ontario, yet his salary is at a minimum two to three times more than the managers of those cities. Hernandez, you cannot reason your way out of a paper bag. You are a thief and you know it, you can't even figure out how you got caught. In municipal services, it is possible to steal for a short while ( we have seen it from time to time), but you WILL always get caught. Local government is about providing as much service as you can to your citizens. You are gone and there is an instructive moment and I hope your citizens will take the lesson. I think they will.

The small city of Bell, 90% of the population Hispanic, over 50% of them illegal aliens.

You know, this is what happens when you let a lot of illegal aliens into CA and are clustering together in one small city like Bell because they don't speak English and now you have local American politicians (many of them with Hispanic surnames) gouging everybody for taxes and using the proceeds to enrich themselves.

The illegals themselves don't vote. The ones who do vote (400-500 of them out of 40,000) don't know what they're voting on.

You know what the illegals have created in Bell. They've created a mini 3rd-world state. This is the way all the Central and South American countries are governed.

American politics is bad enough, but this kind of outright deceit and corruption is standard in Central and South American politics.

This is what the illegals have done in Bell. They've completely destroyed the American culture and replaced it with 3rd-world culture that's rife with sheer corruption.

turns out that Rizzo will be collecting better than $600,000 annualy in retirement... that is what needs to be cancelled! How much are the police chief and city administrator going to receive for a pension? This is what happens when you let the ox into the hen house.

One Word... RESTITUTION!

WHY ISN'T ANYBODY TALKING CRIMINAL CHARGES HERE? IF THERE ISN'T ANY PENALTIES FOR EMBEZZLEMENT TO SAY THE LEAST THEN IT IS JUST GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN! WAKE UP PEOPLE WE ARE GETTING SCREWED AT EVERY LEVEL IN THIS COUNTRY!!!!!!!

I believe that no Government official deserves to get paid more than 400K for any job including President of the United States. For a city manager is a poor city like Bell to make double that is an outrage and this better serve as a wake up call for all of their citizens to stay involved in the process of selecting officials. All legal residents better vote and do their homework or this will happen again.

When a business or individual makes a mistake or is wrong, most responsible ones own up to it and at least apologize. But notice how arrogant government officials almost never admit they were wrong. They also pass laws seeking to prevent citizens from learning about their usual secret activities behind closed doors. They learned well from Nazi, Germany and the former Soviet Union so many brave souls fought so hard to rid the world of. They also passed laws preventing the same penalties for negligence and improper and possibly illegal conduct to apply to them as they do to all ordinary citizens.
This is what most arrogant and corrupt government has degenerated to in the U.S.A. We might as well be living in a third world country.
Now these greedy hacks will draw totally unreasonable amounts of money from the California Retirement Fund thereby moving it faster to bankruptcy.
We citizens in the rest of the country refuse to bail California out on this outrageous decadent waste of public tax money. Thank you editors of the Los Angeles Times for disclosing this gang rape of citzens and taxpayers. This is what great journalism by a great newspaper is all about.

The arrogance is absolutely amazing.

Pensions:

Rizzo's pension will be more than $650,000 per year for life, and make him the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system. Rizzo could also begin receiving Social Security payments At age 62 boosting his annual pension to $976,771, topping $1 million two years later.

Adams will get more than $411,000 per year. Spaccia will get $250,000 a year.

This is the "Bell Bust-Out." Tony Soprano would be proud.

How isn't this stealing? Hernandez is a crook. Is this guy a dictator or what? Do they have elections in Bell? This bum needs to thrown out of office.

"Unlike the skewed view of the facts, the Los Angeles Times presented to advance the paper's own agenda, a look at the big picture of city compensation shows that salaries of the City Manager and other top city staff have been in line with similar positions over the period of their tenure," Hernandez said in the letter.
THIS WAS ALL ON-LINE ..NO PAPERS WERE SOLD.
WHAT A JOKE...CLEARLY HE IS DEFENDING THEM FOR A REASON, AND THEIR SALARIES ARE MORE THAN TWICE THAT OF THE PRESIDENT AND THE L.A. CHIEF OF POLICE......THANK YOU L.A. TIMES

Everyone, myself included, needs to take a look at who WE put in charge. Elections, people, you put them there. Rizzo lives in Huntington Beach, why did the election in Bell go to someone who is not part of the community, much less be on the same page of anyone in the community? Encourage your community leaders to run for positions in your local offices. Take charge of where you live, vote, and be involved in local government!

Hang 'em high! The West is now like the old West, no laws, no integrity. Maybe these criminals will understand some old West justice! People better start voting conservative, not Republican and for sure not Democratic, but CONSERVATIVE!!!!!!!!!

Are the members of the Bell City Council Democrats or Republicans?

Sorry to hear about the City of Bell's problems....it is even more disappointing to think that when you think about it...what it really comes down to is Hispanics preying on Hispanic constituents. The fact is that they are sometimes not educated in gov't, voting or are not even english speaking. Shame on the Mayor, City Manager and all the thugs that they oversaw. Instead of helping to uplift your community by giving them resources for job training, youth programs, even college grants, etc...you have stolen from them and have made indoubtedly made all the right moves to fatten your own greedy little wallets.
As a city employee myself (not far from Bell) I am proud to say that ALL of our workers' salaries are listed online. At first, when I was made aware of this database I will admit that I felt a bit violated. However, given that my salary is funded by the very same people that I work for...I welcome the accountability.
Maybe Bell should post their stuff online as well? Why not? Why does it take some "investigate" report from the media to weed out the scum???
Like my momma says..."if you owe nothing then you fear nothing." All tax paying citizens should have access to their local government. Government for the people and by the people...obviously someone forgot to tell that to those that work in Bell.

Need the City DA and Feds to look into this.

They should pay back the money.

he looks like Don....?

I would like to apply for this job, please.

The fact that Rizzo helped solve the city's financial woes is noteworthy, but guess what Bell City Council, that's his job. That does not entitle him to receive a salary comparable to executives in the private sector. If his aim was to get rich, he shouldn't have accepted a job in local government. Rizzo's salary is most certainly NOT in line with the salaries of administrators in other comparably sized cities. The fact that the mayor continues to defend the salaries the city paid to Rizzo, Spaccia and Adams (and blame the LAT for its steller investigative reporting and review of PUBLIC records) shows he just doesn't get it. Salaries are paid from the general fund, which is also used for city services. Does Bell really have all the services it needs? The parks couldn't use sprucing up? The recreation department couldn't offer more classes to teens? The police department has all the officers , all the technology it needs? I doubt it. Council members may have convinced themselves they've done nothing wrong but history (and hopefully Bell voters) will not be so kind. Good luck with the recall election, Bell residents, I hope you are successful!

watch out Californians! this is the future of California, Mexican style~
don't know what the left think now? they have been pushing for diversity and this is what we got from it, politics of Mexican style!

The people in the audience are the dummies and root cause of the problem. Stupid constituents get what they ask for.

 
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