By now just about everyone in the world has heard about the sleepy little California city of Bell and how the corrupt elected officials have, now let me see, how can I put this gently… screwed over the people of that community by working the system so that they could grant themselves enormous salaries and outrageous pensions. Bell is not a rich city by any stretch but even if it were, the money it was paying out to these thieves would still be ridiculously out of line.
Top crook here would be Robert “Ratso” Rizzo, a city administrator who was pulling down an annual salary of about $800,000 with a retirement pension at age 50 of $700,000 each and every year (with cost of living increases) for life! So they force him to resign, so what? He’s 55 years old, so he resigns and starts collecting his fat pension. Nice. According to Reuters, he stands to collect upwards of $30 million in retirement money before he dies. Talk about a golden parachute! Rizzo gets the golden parachute and the tax payers get the golden shaft. Rizzo’s windfall is only the worst case that has surfaced so far in a statewide pension rip-off. The entire state of California is going broke, millions of normal hard working people have lost their 401K’s and private pension plans, but government workers are doing just fine and dandy, thank you. The state’s public pension assets are managed by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System, global fund giants better known as Calpers and Calstrs, respectively. That’s respectively, not to be confused with respectfully, a concept never used by government bureaucrats when dealing with the folks.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is finally demanding that lawmakers do something to reform pensions of government workers. Gee, Arnie, ya think? This year alone California taxpayers have had to pony up an extra $600 million just for state government pensions. Hell, this state only has a $19 billion deficit in our state budget for this year, that’s all. Meanwhile, we’ve got an economy that’s in the tank and entitlement programs that keep pumping out billions not only to American citizens, but to support illegal aliens who live here.
But let’s go back to Bell for a minute, because I don’t want to neglect the other thieves. Like for instance Police Chief Randy Adams who earned $457,000 a year, that’s two times what Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck gets. The City of Bell has a 46 person department; L.A.’s police chief oversees a department of 12,899.
And then we have Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia who was paid $376,288 annually, which is more than most city managers are paid. Oh, and let’s not forget the City Council members who get around $100,000 a year for their part-time positions. Council members in similarly sized cities make an average of $4,800 a year.
To put all this in perspective, the City of Bell has only a population of around 37,000. It is definitely a lower-income blue-collar community. The per capita income is about $24,800, according to the city’s latest annual report. An investigation into the cities property taxes has found that the homeowners of Bell are paying a higher rate than homeowners in Beverly Hills. Residents of Bell pay as much as 1.55% of their home’s assessed value in taxes. The average for the county is 1.16%In Beverly Hills, where the per-capita income is over four times that of Bell, residents pay 1.19%.
The good news is, the three thieves were forced to resign and as of now, I understand that Rizzo, Adams, and Spaccia will collect no state pension monies until California clears them of charges of fiscal abuse pending against them. But what if they are cleared? Do they get the big bucks? And the question remains: How did this this happen in the first place? These people didn’t walk into a bank vault with masks on their faces and shove twenties into bags, this thing was carefully maneuvered and it looks like voter fraud may be behind it.
It seems that there are some discrepancies in the 2009 election. These “discrepancies” are being examined by the FBI and the Office of California’s secretary of state. In the police report filed, were listed the names of 19 voters who allegedly were either living in Lebanon or were deceased at the time that their votes were cast. There is a small Lebanese community in Bell.
Voter fraud or just crooks being crooks, it doesn’t make any difference. These thieves who were “doing the people’s business” as so many of them like to say, shouldn’t get a penny in pension. Not a penny. I’m sure they’ll never see any jail time, but I’d love to see them do some community service, like cleaning county correctional facility toilets for about five years at a nickel a john. Let them save those nickels towards their retirement fund, that’s all they deserve.