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Rizzo's compensation totaled $1.5 million a year, Bell records show

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f27b8a26970b-320piFormer Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, whose $787,000 salary prompted widespread outrage, received an unusually large package of benefits that increased his annual compensation to more than $1.5 million, according to city records reviewed by The Times.

Rizzo's benefits package -- which covers time off as well as retirement, medical and other types of insurance -- shows he was paid for time off that amounted to more than 20 weeks per year.

Bell's new interim city attorney said Saturday that Rizzo’s compensation package raised serious questions and that the city planned to investigate who approved the perks and whether they were legal.

“It appears Rizzo was getting an inordinate amount of hours of vacation and sick benefits and being paid for it,” said Jamie Casso of the law firm Meyers Nave. “We’re looking to see when it was approved, whether it was approved at a City Council meeting and who approved it.”

Compensation experts said Rizzo’s compensation was far above the norm.

“This is extraordinary, it is outlandish and in absolutely no way represents” normal compensation for city managers, said Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Assn. and a retired city manager. “Extreme is a kind word.”

The revelations come as both the L.A. district attorney's office and the California attorney general's officer are investigating high salaries received by Rizzo, other top Bell administrators as well as Bell City Council members, who earned nearly $100,000 a year before cutting their pay two weeks ago.

Details about Rizzo’s full compensation are contained in city records requested by The Times under the California Public Records Act.

Rizzo did not return calls seeking comment.

The records say Rizzo was to receive $386,786 in paid vacation and sick benefits this year on top of his base salary. Casso said city officials were still trying to understand the compensation agreement. But the documents appear to show Rizzo was being paid for 107 vacation days and 36 sick days a year. The documents show the city paid $48,996 annually into Rizzo’s deferred compensation plans.

Bell also paid $20,496 into Rizzo’s 457 plan, which is similar to a 401(k) for government employees. According to Rizzo’s contract, the city was to pay the full amount of his 457 plan in the first 10 days of the year, meaning he could benefit from an entire year of interest or investment gains.

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives

Photo: Robert Rizzo. Huntington Beach Police Department.

Investigating Bell: A Times special report:

Is a city manager worth $800,000?

In depth: High salaries in Bell

Interactive: How the salaries got so high

Interactive: Paying too much? How property taxes compare

Video: Why do Bell officials make so much money?

Photos: Protests in Bell

Comments () | Archives (67)

There are sure a lot of rumors about the FBI's presence, they usually make arrests when cases are pretty solid. I hope that's the case in Bell. I'm going to have a party the day they get arrested for all they've done!!! As we all should...

Is it possilbe that what happened in Bell is happening right now at the State and Federal level? Most government employees are hardworking folk just like you and me but there are crooks among-em that are scamming the system even as I write this note. BUT wait.....are you listning?.....if you don't "voluntarily" cough up hard earned dollars and give it to the government on April 15th...you could end up in jail!!! How's that grab you Bunkie? We are required by law to ( as politicians like to say ) "pay our fair share" to support bloated bureacracies, bloated salaries, bloated pensions and crooked politicians.

The question is this how can any official get any compensation of any kind unless vetted by a slew of officials - namely the bureaucracy?

Well I guess the politicians have crushed our economy and now they want to be handsomely compensated for it starting at the city level.

We need to rise up and take back our government instead of taking it in the dark side.


This is a wake-up call for the rest of us. This is what happens when the residents stop looking over the shoulders of the people that they elect. Electing council persons is only half the job. You must continuously check and re-check what these people do once in office. Question and examine what they do. They obviously need to have residents looking over their shoulders and watching them.
Some election reform would also be in order. This is also what happens when politicians have to spend more money in campaigns to get into office, than what the job actually pays. Just look at the Governor's race. Check out what the Governor of California pays and subtract that from what Meg Whitman has spent, thus far! That's enough money for a decent sized state stimulus package!! And the election is still months away!!!

Why aren't the citizens of Bell protesting (shutting down) the city govt and demanding ALL resign?

This is why all govt departments must be transparent.

Why is this man not arrested and in jail while the investigation is done before he leaves the country....why don't they freeze his funds and bank account like they do the Taliban.

I say to the people of Bell, take back your city, take back your money, take back your pride and do away with Jabba Rizzo.

This is what happens when citizens don't go to city council meetings. The citizens of Bell are lazy, obviously. And they need to accept at least partial, if not the majority of the blame because of their own laziness.
Wake up. This is your city. Participate. Don't just lay there and play dead!!!!

I have a hunch this guy has violated many laws. It is probably only a matter of time before he is in prison.

BTW, the city in Laguna Beach-his salary is $104,000.00 per year.
The folks in Bell are asleep. Whether they're Latino, Caucasion, or black,...they need to get off their rear ends and participate in their own civic processes.
Don't go blaming everyone else for your own lazinesss.

They all need to be tar and feathered then told get out of this country after they do jail time all they are is a bunch of thieves that includes all of the employees of the city

This is one of the reasonS we should demand our government to balance the budget everytime all the time and not to let anything unfunded be approved.

It seems jail time and paying back the money would be appropriate. How can what they did be legal?

@Minnesota Mike:

>Why didn't anyone in-the-know question these salaries and perks when they were implemented?

Because anyone-in-the-know also had unwarranted 6-figure salaries and didn't want to kill the golden goose.

starting with page one of the coments, 1.if the people of bell elected the risrato when he intered office the they should pf been aware of the money he was to be paid,and did somthing at that time to take away all the excess money being paid to him.2.lets look at the people who helped him get elected in the first place were they not on six figer incomes, and if not then they new that wonce he was elected that they would get there money some how or some way.3.please tell me how the voteing process in bell works, do they vote ten or twenty times with differend names, or turned there backs and simply walked away,no more room left

starting were i left off at,4.is he a collage grad with the smarts to know how to stick it to the people and get away with it, or was there some one on his side that owed him money and that was the only way to pay him back was to twist the screwdriver a littel harder and deper and not care what would happen, i could keep on going on but more latter.

This type of activity is not only happening here in the U.S., it is happening around the world. Here's one that caught my eye, "Unions Vent Anger at Social Security" in Belize in 2004, the government allegedly used Social Security funds paid by workers to bail out businesses, and securitized, meaning turning money into investments, see www.channel5belize.com/archive_news_cast.php?news_date=2004-08-26 And what's interesting here, the business that allegedly got guaranteed loans from the gov't using Social Security Funds said that he would leave the country since gov't changed the rules (regulations) and he could no longer do business in Belize.
Then there's also allegations, that officials took money meant for the country's health care system.

Just look at what's happening with our social security system, they are going broke. Low ranking employees are taking pay cuts, meanwhile, the top positions are not being hit as hard.

Maybe it's just me, but, I've always felt like why do we have top-heavy management - example, city management (council, management...), county management (county supervisor....), state management - example, state senate/fed senate, fed management, it just seems to me that we don't need all these extra top management positions, especially when we need more public services that are being cut like teachers, waste management - trash pickup, fire and police....

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