A timeline of key developments
Pivotal moments, including Rizzo’s hiring and the city election that led to huge raises.
Bell hires Robert Rizzo as city administrator at a salary of $72,000. “He’s probably the lowest-paid city manager in the area, probably in the county,” says then-Councilman George Cole.
Bell becomes a charter city, clearing the way for council members to exempt themselves from state salary limits. Fewer than 400 people vote in the election.
Council members Luis Artiga and Teresa Jacobo are reelected, beating reform candidates. A few months later, Councilman Victor Bello resigns and Lorenzo Velez is appointed to replace him, joining Oscar Hernandez and George Mirabal on the council.
After losing its insurance, Maywood decides to lay off nearly all its city employees, disband its Police Department and turn operations over to Bell. “We want to help our neighbor,” says Bell Mayor Hernandez.
July 15, 2010
The Times reports that Rizzo is paid $787,637, Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia $376,288.
July 23, 2010
Rizzo, Spaccia and Adams resign. Rizzo stands to become the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system, entitled to $600,000 a year for the rest of his life.
July 26, 2010
Council members agree to cut their near-$100,000 salaries to match that of Velez, who makes $673 a month.
Aug. 8, 2010
The Times reports that Rizzo received a lucrative benefits package, including 28 weeks for vacation or sick leave, making his total compensation more than $1.5 million.
Aug. 18, 2010
The Times reports that the city of Bell gave nearly $900,000 in loans to Rizzo, Spaccia, Hernandez and Artiga over the last several years.
Aug. 24, 2010
Petitions to recall council members Artiga, Hernandez, Jacobo and Mirabal are submitted to the city clerk.
Sept. 9, 2010
The U.S. Department of Justice launches an inquiry into possible civil rights violations in Bell.
Sept. 15, 2010
State Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown files a suit accusing eight city officials of concealing their lucrative compensation and plotting to enrich themselves.
Sept. 16, 2010
State Controller John Chiang estimates that Bell wrongly collected more than $5.6 million in local taxes.
Sept. 21, 2010
Eight Bell officials are arrested on felony charges. All are jailed. Rizzo’s bail is set at $3.2 million. Source: Times staff writer Corina Knoll