Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meet Bell, CA - America's Shinning Example of Statism on Steroids

Bell, California is one of the poorest cities in California with a population of 38,000 and average per capital income of under $25,000 according to Bloomberg, here. The impoverished city of Bell is 90% Hispanic but Bell made national headlines a few years ago when it went public that it's City Manager earned an annual salary of nearly $800,000.  Bloomberg further reported:
Hundreds of residents of one of the poorest municipalities in Los Angeles County shouted in protest last night as tensions rose over a report that the city’s manager earns an annual salary of almost $800,000.

An overflow crowd packed a City Council meeting in Bell, a mostly Hispanic city of 38,000…

It was the first council meeting since the Los Angeles Times reported July 15 that Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo earns $787,637 -- with annual 12 percent raises -- and that Bell pays its police chief $457,000, more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck makes in a city of 3.8 million people. Bell council members earn almost $100,000 for part-time work.

The city’s personal income was $24,800 per capita in 2008..
As if an $800,000 a year overpaid bureaucrat isn’t bad enough, Reuters reports that the pension costs to taxpayers for this $800,000 a year parasite could top $30 million, here.

Fortunately, the citizen of Bell became justifiably enraged over the government they elected and revolted.  The crimes of Bell's public officials are well known and it appears that they will be prosecuted for their crimes.

Massive corruption case going to trial Huffington Post
Six former officials of the scandal-ridden city of Bell go on trial this week in a massive corruption case that nearly bankrupted the Los Angeles suburb.

The former mayor and vice mayor and four former City Council members are charged with misappropriation of public funds in a 20-count felony complaint.

Prosecutors claim they looted the city's treasury in order to pay themselves exorbitant salaries. The complaint says sham commissions were created to enrich the defendants.

Two major figures in the scam are not part of this trial. Former City Manager Robert Rizzo and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia are scheduled to be tried separately. They have been accused of making millions while hiking taxes and fees for residents in the modest, blue-collar suburb where many live in poverty....

Defense attorneys had argued that the council members earned their salaries, working full time on the city's behalf, not only attending monthly council meetings but taking part in community projects that benefited low-income people, the aged and numerous others.

Prosecutors contend that Rizzo had an annual salary and compensation package worth $1.5 million and masterminded a scheme to loot the city of Bell of more than $6 million. His assistant city manager, Spaccia, was paid $376,288 a year.

Council members drew salaries of about $100,000 a year, which Hall said was about 20 times more than they were entitled to make.

The six defendants are expected to claim they worked hard for the city and were unaware of Rizzo's financial manipulations. Those set to go on trial Tuesday are former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former vice mayor Teresa Jacobo and former council members George Mirabal, George Cole, Victor Bello and Luis Artiga.

Testimony at the trial is expected to focus on the creation of sham boards and commissions such as the city's Surplus Property Authority which met a handful of times between 2005 and 2010 and never for more than a minute or two. Hall calculated that resulted in council members being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour for sitting on the authority's board.

He said the city's Solid Waste and Recycling Authority was never legally created and, in any case, met only one time in 2006 -- to vote its members a pay raise.

"It was a sham agency," said the judge.

Former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who filed the Bell corruption cases, said more than $5.5 million was taken from the city coffers.
Even if the public officials are prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison, that won't be the end of Bell's problems.  The city had issued $35 million in bonds and that debt will continue to be a burden on the impoverished Bell taxpayers. The LA Times reported, here:
The small and cash-strapped city of Bell is on the hook for a $35-million bond debt that voters didn't approve — and that the city can't afford to pay off, The Times has learned.

The debt, which Bell took on three years ago to buy land near the 710 Freeway, is more than twice the size of Bell's annual operating budget. Come November, the city could lose the land to foreclosure.
The misery of public corruption doesn't end when the corrupt politicians are brought to justice.  They leave a very long trail of financial burdens that taxpayers will be sorting out for many years.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts