Great Article on Former Bell City Manager

Steve Rider Steve Rider 4 Comments


This LA Times Article does an exceptional job of illustrating what kind of lifestyle Robert Rizzo, the City Manager of Bell was indulging in.  Opulent habits including horse racing, drinking, golfing, and who knows what else not included in the article.  The ultimate insult is that one of his horses is named “Depenserde l’argent” which is French for “Spend Money.”  While I’m sure he is on the extreme end for lavish government benefits and living, it’s important to recognize that if government compensation spending is not closely monitored and open for private competition,  employees will take every taxpayer dollar they can pocket.

Here’s a couple fun quotes from the article:

– Short and rotund, the 56-year-old Rizzo took to quoting tough-guy lines from “The Sopranos,” and tolerated no challenges to his expanding authority at City Hall, Bell insiders say.”

– After starting at $72,000, two years later the city council, brought Rizzo another bump, to $95,000. In mid-1991, Rizzo’s contract was amended so that if he was fired, he would receive up to two years of severance pay, according to city records.

– Rizzo helped the city stage a successful election — barely 400 of Bell’s 40,000 residents voted — to transform the town from a general law municipality into a charter city. The election was scheduled soon after a 2005 state law capped council salaries for general law cities.  Council members have denied that pay had anything to do with the election, but their salaries shot up after the switch to charter status, and Rizzo’s employment contracts ballooned.

Full Article:,0,6194640.story


Comments 4

  1. Let us all remember that the root of all evil lies with the politicians. It is the politicians that approved this salary, along with so many others over compensated bureaucrats. It is the politicians that approved these labor union contracts with the pensions that we gripe about. So before we blame Rizzo and government workers, let us not forget the people that allowed it to happen, our dear politicians that we elected. Maybe we should start with an investigation of the salaries and benefits of our dear elected officials.

  2. Regor, our local city situation is quite different than Bell. Bell was driven by unchecked greed of the top dogs — no one was watching that city government.

    San Diego (and most cities) suffers from labor union DE FACTO control. This result is RELATIVELY lower compensation for the top SD dogs, but unjustified higher pay and benefits for ALL the employees.

    Almost all San Diego city politicians did the unions’ bidding for one reason — to get and remain elected — and to get future union support for higher office (Kehoe, Vargas, etc.). Their personal profit from bankrupting the city was relatively small.

    For instance, our SD city council critter salary is $75K — the Bell cc salary was $100K for part-time politicians. And Bell is about 1/30 the size of San Diego

    Net result: San Diego and most other CA cities probably have a bigger problem than Bell, as the total unfunded liability for pensions and health care for our 11,000 workers and growing number of retirees is surely a higher percentage of the budget than Bell.

    City workers are desperate to shift the blame for city budget woes from themselves to the widely disliked politicians — politicians who were in fact simply carrying out orders from their bosses — the city labor unions.

  3. Post

    Regor, I wouldn’t disagree with you too much, if you’re referring to Labor Union workers. They are working on plans set forth by Labor Union reps and politicians who are indeed to blame. However wherever you want to put the blame, the lesson is same;it is just human nature to take as much Taxpayer money as possible, if nobody will challenge you.

    My point, and I think what a lot of people are hoping for, is that there needs to be checks and balances. Ultimately government expenses need to be open for competitive bidding and analysis against the private sector.

  4. Here’s a comment I posted under this LA TIMES article:

    Rizzo may favor high taxes to pay for his opulent life style and corpulent body. But, as Rizzo sees it, such high taxes are for the chumps.

    Rizzo planned ahead — buying a race horse ranch in Washington state. Do you know what the state income tax is in Washington? ZERO!

    So instead of having 9.55% of his huge CalPERS pension going to the California treasury (in large part to pay for excessive public employee pay and pensions), Rizzo pays zippo!

    Now, I know what you’re thinking — CA can tax his pension since it pays it. Nope — the courts have already ruled otherwise — leave California and you leave all California taxes behind.

    BTW, this retirement departure of highly pensioned California public employees is a large and growing trend. After all, no sane person of means wants to pay such high taxes.

    This state is in a financial death spiral.

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