6. Is A City Manager Worth $800,000?
Last July the LA Times asked what one would hope would be a rhetorical question: Is A City Manager Worth $800,000?
It would appear that Robert Rizzo, City Manager of Bell, California, certainly thought so. When it emerged that he was making $787,637 to manage a city of 37,000, described as “one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County,” his explanation was forthright:
“If that’s a number people choke on, maybe I’m in the wrong business,” he said. “I could go into private business and make that money. This council has compensated me for the job I’ve done.”
He might have added, “and it’s not like I’m all alone here at the trough!”
In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City’s police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.
Unhappily for Mr. Rizzo’s constituents agreed that perhaps he was in the wrong business and forced him to resign shortly thereafter. Bad news got worse when Los Angeles County filed charges against Rizzo and seven of his confederates, alleging that they misappropriated $5.5 million in public funds. In a masterpiece of understatement the Assistant District Attorney referred to it as “corruption on steroids.”
When last seen, Robert Rizzo had just lost his volunteer parking lot attendant job at the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, apparently lined up to earn community service hours for a DUI conviction. (There are some things you just can’t make up.) No word if he’d suggested to the big Museum Kahuna that if he couldn’t get a six figure raise he must be in the wrong business.