Attorney General Investigates Town Employees Raking In Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
[And Its Not Even On Long Island!]
Over the years, The Community Alliance has brought you tales from the far side, almost beyond the realm of belief, of Town Sanitary District employees duping taxpayers out of millions, government workers taking six-figure salaries for no-show jobs, and even a Water District operating, on tax dollars, out of someone's kitchen. [Talk about throwing in the kitchen sink!]
Yes, there have been investigations, news stories, and even disturbing public reports on what amounts to public graft in local government, but what has come of it, particularly on our Long Island, where Special Taxing Districts continue to run amuck, on your dime (dollar)? Not all that much, we're afraid.
Okay. So here's a story that hits home. Maybe it even rings a bell. Though this one stems from greed and misplaced public trust on the west coast, from our vantage point, only the names and the locales have changed. The bilking of the taxpayer out of his hard-earned money continues on the east coast, unabated and, more often than not, unchallenged.
File this one under: It Can (And Does) Happen Here!
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California AG sues over California town's municipal salaries
By the CNN Wire Staff
One official made $787,638 annually
Brown wants to reduce their pension benefits
He plans to widen the probe statewide
(CNN) -- California's attorney general sued eight former and current municipal officials in a small Los Angeles suburb who sparked national outrage for their ultra-high salaries, his office said Wednesday.
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. of California filed the suit "to recover the excess salaries" that officials from the city of Bell awarded themselves. He is also pursuing a reduction of their pension benefits.
"I'm going to continue to do everything in my power to go after corrupt officials who, rather than doing the public's business, scheme behind closed doors to line their own pockets," Brown said.
"These officials must be forced to give up their ill-gotten gains, and we must enact strict reforms to prevent these kinds of abuses in the future."
Brown's lawsuit was filed against former city manager, Robert Rizzo; former assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia; former police chief, Randy Adams; council members Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo, and George Mirabel; and former council members Victor Bello and George Cole.
The suit charges include fraud, civil conspiracy, waste of public funds, and breach of fiduciary duty. It also alleges that the defendants deliberately misled the citizenry about the accurate amount of their compensation.
The suit is demanding that the people return all excessive compensation and it is asking the court to set "appropriate salary levels for pension purposes."
Rizzo's last annual base salary was $787,638, Adams' $457,000, and Spaccia's $336,000. Bell city council members were paid $96,000 a year before they took a recent cut. Cities of similar size pay their council members $4,800 a year.
Since 1993, the Bell city council raised Rizzo's salary 16 times, with an average increase of 14 percent a year. The city council raised his salary by 47 percent in 2005, and council members also awarded themselves salary increases of 16 percent a year since 2003.
Brown said Rizzo prepared a memo for the public that "showed council members were paid $673 per month and Rizzo was paid $15,478 per month. But he said council members actually were paid $7,666 per month, and Rizzo was paid $52,325 per month.
Brown plans to widen a statewide probe of public salaries and benefits, and he called for legislative reforms of salary and pension practice.
He is serving a subpoena on the city of Vernon, which is near Bell, "to obtain compensation records for city officials and employees."
"News articles have reported that one city official there received an annual salary of $785,000, and another received compensation totaling $1.6 million in a single year. Vernon, an industrial city near Bell, has a population of less than 100," the attorney general's office said.