Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Attorney general issues subpoenas in Bell salary scandal

July 26, 2010 | 12:42 pm

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown on Monday issued subpoenas for hundreds of salary and employment documents from the city of Bell to determine whether top officials broke laws in awarding out-sized salaries to city administrators and City Council members.

Brown said he was moving swiftly after The Times exposed a pay scandal in the small working-class city to reassure taxpayers that the state was determined to crack down on possible wrongdoing and to warn other cities not to follow Bell's path.

"These outrageous pay practices are an insult to the hard-working people of Bell and have provoked righteous indignation in California and even across the country," Brown said. "I'm determined to get to the bottom of these exorbitant payouts and protect the state's pension system against such abuses, and today's subpoenas are an important step in that process."

The Times reported that Bell's city manager, Robert Rizzo, was earning nearly $800,000 in annual pay, making him the highest-paid government manager in the nation. Police Chief Randy Adams was paid $457,000 a year, and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia made $376,288.

Under pressure from residents, all three have resigned. At a City Council meeting Monday night, Bell residents are expected to push for the resignations of four of the five council members; each of the four makes $100,000 a year for a part-time job.

At the meeting, the council is to consider cutting council member pay, which is now considered significantly higher than that of other cities of the same size.

Brown, in a statement released Monday, said he would examine whether illegality occurred in the Bell cases and whether changes in California law are needed to prevent similar abuses. He said his office will also look at salaries in other local governments to determine if similar abuses are happening.

-- Catherine Saillant

Investigating Bell:  A Times special report:

Is a city manager worth $800,000?

Bell residents are not happy about high salaries

High salaries fuel anger in Bell

Bell council members under investigation for $100,000 salaries

Video: Why do Bell officials make so much money? The Times' Jeff Gottlieb explains.

Bell city manager might be highest paid in nation

Bell council found loophole to allow big salaries

Photos: Protests in Bell