Bell City Manager Paid Twice President Obama's Salary Resigns

Robert Rizzo earns nearly $800,000, will become highest paid pensioner in Calif.

ByABC News
July 22, 2010, 4:24 PM

July 23, 2010 — -- Three municipal officials whose outsize salaries sparked a firestorm of outrage in the working-class Los Angeles suburb of Bell, Calif., resigned after midnight Friday following an emergency meeting of the city council.

Robert Rizzo, the city manager, will leave behind a $784,637 annual salary -- nearly twice the pay of President Obama -- and will not receive a severance package. Nevertheless the 56-year-old will draw an immense pension, between $650,000 and $880,000, making him the highest-paid pensioner in California.

"Rizzo resigns and still makes more than $600,000," said Ali Saleh, founder of the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, a grassroots community group. "That's why I call him a predator. He's taking advantage of the community whether he keeps his job or resigns."

Along with Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, who earns $375,000 and Police Chief Randy Adams, who earns $475,000, 50 percent more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, also agreed to resign.

Rizzo and Adams will both step down in August and Spaccia will leave in September.

The council held a closed-door meeting late into Thursday night. After several hours the members emerged to a room full of citizens who burst into applause following the announcement.

Community activists hailed the decision, but questions remain regarding the fate of the of the five-member city council, who accepted the employees' resignations but whose own large salaries have made them the target of a potential criminal investigation.

Four of the five council members, who approved the employees' salaries, earn over $100,000 for part-time work, sparking a preliminary investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

City council members in comparable cities holding similar posts typically earn around $4,500.

"We're reviewing the facts to see if we need to launch a formal investigation," said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney.