MSM Leaves Out Two Little Details
Concerning Bell, California Scandal
When your small-town government officials vote to pay themselves four times the going rate for cities five times your town’s size, that’s a big story. When the town is going bankrupt by leaps and bounds the story is complicated. When unemployment floods the city, that’s more complicated. When the mainstream media chooses to omit two crucial details of the story that makes everything so much more intriguing, no?
The story broke at the start of the summer, no big deal but full of the human interest that drives so many stories during hard economic times. The city of Bell, California, a Los Angeles Country suburb of L.A. was suffering like virtually no small town in southern California had ever suffered . . . whatever the source of the joblessness and poverty growing upon Bell, public activism was NOT the preferred solution. You see, Bell’s problem might have arisen from voter apathy. Only 400 votes were cast in Bell’s 2005 election designating Bell as a charter city. An extra-large number of those 400 votes were suspicious absentee votes. Later in March of 2007, Bell held its first contested elections for city council in over a decade.
As Bell’s problems grew, nearby towns in Southern Cal were also suffering. In July 2010, when two L.A. Times reporters, Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives, began investigating possible malfeasance in a neighboring city but got distracted when they discovered Bell city officials were receiving unusually large salaries, perhaps the highest in the nation. Indeed, the city payroll was swollen with six- to seven-figure salaries. City Manager Robert Rizzo received $787,637 a year (almost double the salary Obama receives. Including benefits, Rizzo received $1.5 million in the last year. His assistant Angela Spaccia, was earning $376,288 a year, more than the top administrator for all of L.A. Country. Police chief, Randy Adams, was paid $457,000, 33% more the Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. The threesome resigned following initial news reports and a huge public outcry.
And then more facts came to light. All but one member of the Bell city council were receiving $100,000 for their part-time work, and all these salaries were SHOCK!! authorized by that 2005 special election, giving the city Charter status. Council members in cities of Bell’s size typically make less than $5,000 per year.
Ten days ago the California Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against eight former and current employees, demanding return of "excessive salaries" and a reduction in pension benefits accrued as a result of those higher salaries. Apparently, the problem has only been getting worse since the 2005 Charter City election. Both the FBI and California Secretary of State’s office are investigating allegations about improprieties in the 2009 election and the city's ultra-high property taxes are also being investigated.
Apparently, virtually all of Bell’s residences and buildings were over assessed and overtaxed between 2007 and 2010. This week former city manager Robert Rizzo, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia and council members George Mirabal, Teresa Jacobo, Luis Artiga, George Cole and Victor Bello were arrested and charged with misappropriation of public funds. Police Chief Randy Adams has resigned under pressure and been replaced. Of note, the media have had a field day kicking Bell around but two little details about the town’s plight have been conveniently missing from every MSM (mainstream media) story so far . . . only FOX News noticed that Bell calls itself “a proud sanctuary city” and that all eight of the problem officials were Democrats.
Interesting, just as they’ve left the party tag off Charlie Rangel (D) and Maxine Waters (D) and downplayed or omitted news about their scandals, the MSM seems to only believe (R) –Rated scandals require party mention.
So Bell, California, has been run for at least thirteen years by a Democratic machine; moved itself out of the umbrella of state law with a questionable charter city election; deliberately overburdened its systems by making itself a sanctuary city for illegal aliens and definitely got the progressive government it so-deserved with virtually no one going to the polls to keep their crooks honest. Sounds like Washington, D.C., eh?
Ya’all live long, strong and ornery,