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Calif. city managers meet over salary scandal

July 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
After one of their own quits in disgrace, California's city managers met Thursday, looking for answers to the city exectives' salary scandal in Bell that's triggered several resignations and investigations.There are several recommendations being considered. They include statewide guidelines for pay scales and requiring that salary figures be posted on city websites.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also weighed in on the Bell scandal.

City managers from all over California met in Sacramento Thursday, where the conversation quickly turned to the exorbitant salary that was paid to one of their own.

"The problem we ran into in Bell is that was done in a way that the public was not aware," said Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp.

Members of the League of California Cities say that what happened in the city of Bell is a violation of public trust.

"They cannot figure out how this possibly happened," said Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of Calif. Cities. "They think it's wrong and they want to see it remedied. It is not a positive reflection, obviously, on their profession or the values that they hold."

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was pulling down $800,000 per year in a city of less than 40,000 residents south of downtown L.A.

Rizzo, the police chief and the assistant city admistrator resigned last week after outraged residents learned of their pay.

"The thing that has us scratching our heads is, How did we end up with an $800,000 problem? Why weren't there questions asked when the person was being paid $300,000, $400,000, $500,000?"

The statewide association of city managers says it is working with the state legislatrue to make a change in California law that would require the salaries of city, county and state officials to be made public.

"We've got technology, whether it's websites or other kinds of ways that we can make sure that information is easily and readily available, so we're certainly looking at website posting," said McKenzie.

Thursday's meeting of more than 30 city managers came as a response to the Bell controversy.

Thursday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced he supports the idea of posting the salaries of all city officials.

"If the cities have nothing to hide, put the information on a website so people don't even have to call," said Schwarzenegger. "Put it on a website if you have nothing to hide."

The league says it plans to conduct a salary survey of city managers statewide, and then it plans to make that list available to the public.

But members stopped short of endorsing statewide salary caps for city managers.


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