In the “Where Are They Now” of ex-Bell, California city officials, former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo is working as a parking lot attendant, and three other former officials are trying to get the city to pay their legal bills — after they allegedly used public funds to inflate their salaries.
Some of the officials in the city made up to $96,000 a year for part-time elected positions — 20 times the national average for a city Bell’s size.
But three of those officials seem to think that allegedly taking money from the city does not disqualify them from the perks of holding public office. Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo, and former Councilman George Cole are arguing that the city should pay their legal bills in a lawsuit brought by the state’s Attorney General. Cole and Jacobo want the same perk applied in a criminal case by the L.A. County DA.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The legal papers were filed by lawyers for the trio in response to the attorney general’s lawsuit. The current and former council members’ lawyers insist that despite claims their clients took large salaries for little or no work, they did nothing legally wrong and are entitled to have Bell cover the costs.
The effort to get the city to foot the bills comes as state auditors have indicated the city’s expenses are already outrunning its income, leaving Bell little alternative but to cut services and employees.
And then there’s Rizzo, who was charged with 53 different counts after making nearly $800,000 a year. Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Rizzo is now employed as a parking lot attendant at the International Surfing Museum.
Lopez writes he went down to the museum to check it out:
“You look famous,” I said to him.
Do you surf?” I asked, and I think this is where the relationship went south.
Rizzo gave me a long hard stare. Perhaps it was his way of suggesting it was just as likely that Jabba the Hutt was a surfer.
Read the full report here (it’s worth clicking just for the picture).
All eight officials charged with misusing public funds pleaded not guilty in October.