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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)

1. The base salaries to calculate retirement should be salaries with COLA going back to before city charter changed to circumvent high salaries for council members. The city council members should be prosecuted. How much quid pro quo went in to changing charter, highly inflating compensation for City Manager, police chief and other manager?

2. If the City Manager is prosecuted and found quilty of bribing council members with high salaries, then he should forfeit his retirement. He can live in state prison and have a bed, roof over his head and food. Maybe some water. It is the humane thing to do!

Funny: Atty General Brown called this almost unbelievable. Not unbelievable!

Speculation: San Bernardino County CAO disappointed, just completed salary survey using City of Bell compensation schedule.

Betsy Adams, City Manager of little Grand Terrace earning $300,000, with 14,000 residents, no police or fire dept., worried reporter who broke Bell story will "sniff" her out!

Corruption is the Mexican way. It’s now our way, all the way.
Your soul for cheap grapes and wanted drugs!
When They say heads will roll. Do you mean like real; as in Mexico?

These jokers were essentially operating a criminal enterprise, and they were all in on it.
Their little fiefdom was based on viewing their constituents as nothing more than ignorant serfs, who's hard labor gave them little or no time to delve into the greedy mechanizations of these human vultures. Just Modern day versions of "The Duke' and "The Dauphin". The con men, from "Huckleberry Finn"
Somewhere laws must have been broken, and this cast of characters must be sent to their just rewards. Up the river.

To all those blaming the voters of Bell: The Los Angeles Times has reported that the city called a Special Election in 2005 ... right after the state established limits on pay of council members. How many of you went to the polls for a city special election with one item on it?

Talk about a sneaky move. The city billed the measure as a means of becoming more local control, by becoming a charter city. Not coincidentally, all five council members endorsed the measure, which didn't mention how it would affect council member's salaries.

They make MORE money than OTHERS in similar positions and he's SORRY ? Somebody bitchslap this guy back to his house. Those people are LUCKY they decided to 'step down' ( resign) than face a criminal trial. It's absolutely AMAZING that this mayor actually STOOD UP for these thieves

after getting those salaries is a shame that they are going to continue earning the big bucks through their pensions, that is not right, they also need to get rid of the mayor

This guy is 100% scumbag who should be going to jail.
What a loser! Because of scum like this we are in a
recession right now.

While the salaries are utterly outrageous, I don't know if I can blame the administrators for them. We all pull for as much as we can get when it comes time for a raise or the renegotiation of a contract. The real fault lies in the council members and mayor who approved them. They've either been negligent in allowing these contracts or willfully misused public funds to pay them. Either way, they should be recalled. And if any quid pro quo is found, criminal charges should be filed against all parties.

That being said, its not a crime or even morally wrong to receive a high salary. If no other misconduct occurred, then each administrator should be eligible for a pension for their service, albeit significantly reduced to be in-line with comparable positions in other cities.

I can't wait until they do the same to the Maywood council for corruption and for trying to do the same as Bell... I will be front and center for that one as I am a resident of Maywood. Can't wait....

adams is a much better police chief than beck.

HOW ABOUT THE $600,000 PER YEAR PENSION RIZZO WILL BE RECEIVING FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE?

THAT'S THE REAL TRAVESTY.

With this kind of mayor, you guys don't have a chance. What universe is this joker living in?

This is what happens when you corrupt city leaders that abuse tax payer funds and the peoples trust. Their salaries should be kept in line with Federal standards. Which means that their salaries should be reduced immediately by at least 80 to 85%%? Is there any city that can justify these high salaries? Not one. This is a major problem through out our state and a major reason for our state of California’s financial crisis.

Remember when it was about serving your community and our country? Now it's about winning the lottery.

Did people read the article about the 400 person special ballot initiative?

Basically in 2005 because of the South Gate scandal, the state enacted a law limiting the pay of council members in "general law" cities. So the Bell City Council held a special election that same year (costing the taxpayers) with one thing on the ballot: an initiative to convert Bell to a "charter" city.

Now how would people even know that converting to a charter city meant taking the cap off of the pay raises? Some of the posts here make it sound like the initiative on the ballot was directly about council pay.

I'm not absolving the voters from blame, they had more than enough time to dig this out, but heck, I'm not even sure I would care about whether my city was a charter or a general law city.

The man isn't stupid how many people do you know make more money then the President of the United States for doing nothing. Many other officials are doing the same they haven't got caught yet.

I will run the who damn city for $220k a year.

. The base salaries to calculate retirement should be salaries with COLA going back to before city charter changed to circumvent high salaries for council members. The city council members should be prosecuted. How much quid pro quo went in to changing charter, highly inflating compensation for City Manager, police chief and other manager?

2. If the City Manager is prosecuted and found quilty of bribing council members with high salaries, then he should forfeit his retirement. He can live in state prison and have a bed, roof over his head and food. Maybe some water. It is the humane thing to do!

Funny: Atty General Brown called this almost unbelievable. Not unbelievable!

Speculation: San Bernardino County CAO disappointed, just completed salary survey using City of Bell compensation schedule.

Betsy Adams, City Manager of little Grand Terrace earning $300,000, with 14,000 residents, no police or fire dept., worried reporter who broke Bell story will "sniff" her out!


Posted by: Orangerind | July 23, 2010 at 03:42 PM

The sad part is, this is standard operating procedures for a lot of government politicians these days. Time to take the country back as whole for out of control government spending.

who cares? It was stimulus money from Hussein!!!

This whole thing went to fast. There is time to look for loopholes to fires these idiots. Have the city union pick up this crap------overthrow the city pension fund

Am looking forward to the federal investigation.

The city manager and his cronies all need to end up in prison. If I had to bet, I'd put money on them serving time!

Why is there no maximum pension allowed by CALPERS? The fact this guy gets a 650K pension is as bad as the 800K salary.

I say, "investigate them" (I smell fraud/thievery). Get the money back to the taxpaying citizens of Bell California. No government employee (paid by our tax dollars) should be allowed to get away with this.

Meanwhile, the obama administration is dismantling the private sector. Vote all incumbents and liberals out in November!

I say, "investigate them" (I smell fraud/thievery). Get the money back to the taxpaying citizens of Bell California. No government employee (paid by our tax dollars) should be allowed to get away with this.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is dismantling the private sector. Vote all incumbents and liberals out in November!

Thank you for the opportunity to congratulate the people of Bell.

 
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