What They Do and What They Really Mean

I was going to blog about something else, but I just couldn't stop myself from saying something about the ridiculous situation in Bell, CA.

In case you didn't know, California and all its cities are suffering from massive budget shortfalls. In Bell's case, it appears that the obscene pay to public officials is a big contributing factor to the budget crisis.

LA Times reports in two parts:

www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-cuts-20100727,0,5834864.story

The report shows that community services, including social services and recreation programs, were cut by 21%, or $593,438, while public safety took a 3.7% hit, or $228,888. Police training was whacked by 58%.

The salaries of [City Admin Officer] Rizzo, [Police Chief] Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia are equal to about 10% of Bell's $15.9-million general fund budget.

www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-salaries-20100727,0,1970663.story

...the city's top officials received some of the highest municipal wages in the nation. City Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo made $787,637 a year, almost twice the salary of President Obama; Police Chief Randy Adams made $457,000, 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck; and Assistant City Manager Spaccia made $376,288, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County.

All three resigned last week.

I really hope it doesn't end with their resignations because it's an empty gesture.

They got to keep their ridiculous pay (almost twice what we pay our commander-in-chief!) and as far as I can tell, they'll be able to get their pensions when they reach retirement age. This is the biggest F-you to the people Rizzo, Adams and Spaccia can come up with on their way out. (Oh, BTW -- Rizzo has been collecting that big pay from the city for fifteen years!)

And to further illustrate how outrageous their pay was -- the population of Bell is about 38,000. No, that's not a typo. It's only 38,000.

If Bell had paid just those three half of what they made, the city would've saved $810,462.50 this year. That's enough to preserve the funding for community services for the residents, and it would have almost no impact on the funding level for public safety. Now this is just those three. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars could've been saved if the city hadn't overpaid other public official fat cats.

Nothing short of a full investigation, and new laws with claw-back features will stop public officials from pulling this kind of stunt again.