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Fate of Bell's highly paid officials at issue as City Council sets emergency meeting

July 22, 2010 |  8:09 am

The Bell City Council has announced an emergency closed-session meeting for Thursday afternoon in which officials could decide the fate of three top administrators who are among the highest paid in the nation.

Attorneys for the city have been negotiating with the three officials for several days, hoping to reach deals in which the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief would step down, sources told The Times.

Resigning would make City Manager Robert Rizzo, Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia eligible for lucrative pensions. But the three also have contracts that protect them from being fired without cause.

As a result, unless they agree to resign, the city would face the prospect of buying out their contracts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional payments.

Rizzo earns nearly $800,000 a year, making him the highest-paid city manager in California and possibly the nation. Adams makes $457,000 — 50% more the Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck — and Spaccia makes $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

The salaries, revealed by The Times last week, sparked protests in the small, predominantly working-class town southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Should Rizzo be forced from his job, he would immediately gain a new title: highest-paid retiree in the state's CalPERS retirement system.

Rizzo, 55, would be entitled to a $659,252-a-year pension for the rest of his life, according to retirement calculations made by The Times that were reviewed by pensions experts.

That would make him the highest-paid retiree in the CalPERS system, outstripping the $509,664 paid each year to Bruce Malkenhorst, former city manager of Vernon. 

-- Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb

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