Last month, we highlighted wasteful spending in Bell, Calif., that resulted in paying the City Manager nearly $800,000 a year. There is a silver lining for Bell residents. This gross misuse of public funds prompted an investigation by prosecutors and what they found was amazing. They found that not only was the City Manager, Robert Rizzo, grossly overpaid, but the city council failed to oversee his actions, which resulted in Rizzo making unauthorized city loans to himself.
Prosecutor Steve Cooley was justifiably outraged by these findings saying:
They used the tax dollars collected from the hardworking citizens of Bell as their own piggy bank, which they then looted at will
He also added that it is “corruption on steroids.” This is a blatant misuse of public funds, and they should be held accountable.
Cooley also found that Rizzo had used public funds to repay $95,000 in personal loans. The citizens of Bell are already on the hook for his salary, and because of that, their property taxes are the second highest in Los Angeles County. While wasteful spending to this degree is the exception, not the rule, there is a growing trend of government workers earning more than private sector employees. The problem is that government workers are paid with taxpayer dollars.
The citizens of Bell did not take this lying down. Within a few days of finding out about the astronomical salaries, groups were started to make sure this never happens again. The indictments are a small victory for the taxpayers in Bell, and they were pretty excited about the developments. They learned about wasteful spending the hard way, but hopefully more cities can learn from this.