For Whom the Bell Tolls: Outrage After Small Town Discovers City Manager Makes Almost $800,000 a Year

There is an amazing story out of Bell, California where citizens in the small city of 38,000 are outraged at news that Chief Administrative Office Robert Rizzo makes almost $800,000 a year and its police chief Randy Adams makes $457,000. As a point of comparison, Los Angeles (with a population of 3.8 million people) pays its police chief roughly half what Bell pays its Chief of Police. There have been calls for the resignation of Mayor Oscar Hernandez and other city officials.

In addition, Bell council members earn almost $100,000 for part-time work. Those salaries have triggered an investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Dave Demerjian, head of the office’s Public Integrity Division said Bell council members were receiving $8,083 a month, mostly by serving on city-related commissions, but California law limits salaries of council members to “several hundred dollars a month.”

Rizzo makes over twice the salary of the President of the United States in overseeing a city of fewer than 40,000 people.

Bell citizens made an annual salary of $24,800 per capita in 2008 and its revenues have been declining.

Rizzo is expected to resign or be fired.

Source: Bloomberg

39 thoughts on “For Whom the Bell Tolls: Outrage After Small Town Discovers City Manager Makes Almost $800,000 a Year”

  1. Ishobo,

    Byron has integrity, he just (like all of us) is sometimes lacking in objectivity, and suffers from a severe case of lack of skepticism of anything that claims to support into his world view.

    So basically, he’s human. I have however seen him change his mind, and admit to errors. Which puts him a cut above many others on both sides of issues.

  2. This underscores the losses caused by the closure of many local newspapers and the failure of many otherwise responsible adults to stay informed about local affairs.

  3. @Byron

    From the information I have seen, privatization is the way to go. It usually reduces cost and someone is accountable and you can not renew their contract if you don’t like the service.

    Except reality says otherwise. That is the problem with you libertarians, your policies look good on paper but in practice they have been proven not to work. They offer zero transparency to the residents and often cost more.

    The reason the city manager was paid $787k was because he argued that would be his salary in the private sector. All I hear from your types is government should be run like a business. They fail to understand that government is NOT a business, it is government. Its purpose is to serve the people. Outsourced operations are not accountable to the people. There is no way to implement transparency.

    I don’t know why I am offering a counter point, you have shown over the months that you are perfectly willing to revise history to support your argument. You lack integrity.

    The big failing here are the residents. They should have demanding greater transparency and scrutinized city operations. Most voters are not interested in govermental affairs and aloof to the details.

  4. Byron,

    Another example:

    Paying $400 for a hammer = systemic error.

    Charging $400 for a hammer = criminal behavior (fraud).

    Another more potentially fatal example (keep in mind the US military is one of if not the largest logistics operation in the world):

    Misplacing nuclear weapons/Broken Arrows = systemic error.

    Ordering the invasion of a country that didn’t attack us for personal profit = criminal behavior (treason).

  5. Byron,

    Complexity can create error. However, there is a huge difference between systemic error and criminal behavior. This is an example of the later, not the former. Just look at the comparable population served to pay data for LA the Prof. included in his story and the distinction should just jump off the page.

  6. Byron–

    “From the information I have seen, privatization is the way to go. It usually reduces cost and someone is accountable and you can not renew their contract if you don’t like the service.”

    Don’t forget to keep in mind military contractors like Blackwater/Xe and others that have kept the costs of waging war down. They’ve given us cut-rate prices, haven’t they? All their workers have been models of perfect behavior, haven’t they?

    There are incompetent, lazy, greedy, nasty people everywhere you look. Some work for the government; some work for private companies. The same holds true for competent, hardworking, honest, upstanding folks.

  7. Puzz:

    nice find. From the information I have seen, privatization is the way to go. It usually reduces cost and someone is accountable and you can not renew their contract if you don’t like the service.

  8. Buddha:

    it has a good deal to do with size. The people who run things in DC do not have the ability to control something very large. Even private corporations reach a size where it becomes harder and harder to control. Size precludes accountability because there are too many levels and branches.

    Look at the emmense beauracracy created by the Patriot Act, the Washington Post just did an expose on it and it looks like we are back to square one.

    So yes size does matter if you want accountability in government.

  9. I’m all for axing the ‘good ol boy’ networks but what happens when they just shift to ‘private’ sector. Gamers are gamers….period. I still think we need regulation to PREVENT and control grafters….

  10. ‘Bell council members were receiving $8,083 a month’

    Damn!

    ‘Rizzo makes over twice the salary of the President of the United States in overseeing a city of fewer than 40,000 people.’

    Double Damn!!!!!!!

  11. And how much are the parking clerks making, $250K?

    Let’s send the whole thing to the private sector. Everything. For those who didn’t see it, the New York Times just ran a piece on the city right next door to Bell, called Maywood, where they did just that.

    A City Outsources Everything. Sky Doesn’t Fall.

    While many communities are fearfully contemplating extensive cuts, Maywood says it is the first city in the nation in the current downturn to take an ax to everyone…

    … the celebration here is practically palpable. Freed from its employees, Maywood has nowhere to go but up, they say.

    “Remember the Soviet Union?” said Hector Alvarado, who heads a civic advocacy group. “They had a lot of bureaucracy, and they lost. Maywood was like that. Now people know if they don’t work, they will be laid off. Much better this way.”.

  12. Nothing to do with size, Byron.

    Everything to do with accountability.

  13. this is not unbelievable at all, what do people expect? This is what happens when you have big government run by elites for their personal gain. Government is, in my mind, make work jobs for people who are unable to compete in the private sector and need an avenue for wealth creation for themselves.

    When you make 40 times the salary of the people you are working for you are no longer able to do your job properly. And those people are paying your salary through their hard work. Someone needs to be severely punished and the rest of us should wake up and throw all these bloody bastards out, along with the entrenched bureaucracy that really runs the government into the ground. Government service should not be a road to wealth.

    Harry Truman retired with hardly anything but the house he owned, seems fair enough to me. Why should we pay huge pensions to someone who worked for 8 years? Let them go back to work or write books or speak to earn their money. Same for congress, who the hell do these people think they are? We have to work 30-40 years to get a chicken shit retirement because the laws passed by these jack asses restrict wealth creation. All the while they are sucking on the government teat with excellent benefits and large retirement salaries and for what? 8-12 years of screwing us over?

    Send them back to the private sector how they came in and let them fend for themselves under the bullshit laws they make us labor under. They can do what the rest of us do and put some money aside in a Roth IRA for their retirement. I bet that would change the limits real quick. Simple minded dipsticks are what most of them are and naturally tending toward corruption by virtue of their opinion of themselves as the anointed elite.

  14. I know its hard to keep track of all levels of government, but people need to take the time and devote at least some to keep track of what our leaders are doing, otherwise they have no one but themselves to blame.

    After all you can’t fault the hogs for eating at a full trough….

  15. Ask not for whom the Bell toils. It toils for thee.

    Thank you and good night! Don’t forget to convict your criminals! (drops microphone and leaves stage)

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