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Bell hires as Rizzo replacement former El Segundo chief executive

Residents celebrate in front of Bell City Hall after the arrest of Robert Rizzo.
Bell, the southeast Los Angeles County town that became linked with corruption after eight former leaders were arrested, Monday appointed a city manager who was fired earlier this year as chief executive in el Segundo.

Doug Willmore was terminated as city manager of El Segundo after announcing he had discovered that, for decades, Chevron had paid millions of dollars less in taxes on its refinery in the city than did refineries elsewhere in the state.

Willmore said the council fired him “in retaliation” and that he expected to file a lawsuit against his former employers.

Before going to El Segundo, he was chief administrative officer of Salt Lake City for six years.

On June 1, Willmore will become Bell’s first permanent city manager since Robert Rizzo left the position in July 2010 after The Times revealed he was making nearly $800,000 a year. Rizzo is one of eight former officials who have been charged with public corruption.

Willmore faces the task of rebuilding a city with a legacy of mismanagement. Bell also has been reported to be close to insolvency.

Willmore is expected to sign a three-year contract for $175,000 a year.

He said he was impressed by the council’s “commitment to progress, so I think there is a lot of potential in the city and some untapped assets, and I think there’s clearly a lot of things that need to be improved; but at the same time a lot of great things can be done.”

Mayor Ali Saleh, said 72 people had applied for the job.

“We felt he had the expertise and knowledge and would be good fit to move the community forward,” Saleh said.

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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Residents celebrate in front of Bell City Hall after the arrest of Robert Rizzo. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

 
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