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Maywood may divorce Bell and cancel outsourcing contract

August 9, 2010 |  5:38 pm

Maywood, whose political marriage to the city of Bell made national headlines, is considering a quickie divorce.

In late June, Maywood fired most of its workers and turned over day-to-day operations to Bell. But the scandal over eye-popping salaries in Bell has become a "distraction," and Maywood's city leaders say they may look for someone else to run their affairs.

"We're caught in a situation where we need to move forward," said Maywood Councilman Felipe Aguirre. "We don't want to be distracted by things that are not germane to our city."

Also, Aguirre said, he didn't want Maywood to "become a laughingstock of a city," a term used to describe Bell by one of its own embarrassed council members.

The Maywood City Council is also expected to vote at its meeting Monday night to replace Angela Spaccia, an interim city manager borrowed from Bell. Spaccia, was being paid $376,288 a year as an assistant Bell city manager, much more than most city managers. When her benefits package was included, Spaccia's salary more than doubled to $845,960. (Spaccia has left her Bell post.)

But that paled in comparison with former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, whose $787,637 salary swelled up to more than $1.5 million when counting vacation, sick days and benefits. The enormous salaries paid to Bell administrators provoked a collective shudder throughout county and state governments when learned.

Many reacted to distance themselves from Bell as a line of politicians took turns expressing their disgust with the lucrative contracts.

But no city was as intimately tied to Bell as Maywood. Aguirre and other elected leaders there said they would have faced bankruptcy because the city had lost its insurance had they not outsourced jobs to Bell. It was by all appearances the first time a city had done that, not only in the state, but in the nation. Aguirre said that "Bell saved our skin."

Maywood residents have ratcheted up their criticism of elected leaders for jettisoning the city's controversial police department, firing workers and outsourcing municipal operations to Bell.

Aguirre said that if Maywood votes to end the relationship with Bell, it could contract with another city, the county or even a private agency. Without getting into details, Aguirre said Monday that "things have changed in the last maybe 72 hours."

"Things are getting very, very complex," he said. "We have to deal with issues affecting Maywood."

-- Hector Becerra

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