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City Managers May Need to Start Justifying Salaries

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robert rizzo .jpg
Robert Rizzo, 56 (Huntington Beach Police Dept.)

Robert Rizzo, 56 (Huntington Beach Police Dept.)
City Managers all across Los Angeles are currently in the limelight after as we all probably know by know, the LA Times published an article revealing many shockingly high salaries. It was revealed that former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo made more than $1.5 million -- after all his annual compensations were factored in -- which is more than President Obama makes. The average salary for other city managers is more like $200,000.

Some now are even questioning the comparatively lower salaries, believing they too are enjoying unnecessary benefits.

But WeHo News took a different approach explaining that many times these high salaries are a reflection of the size and population of their city. One woman from West Hollywood said she is not worried about the $285,496 they pay their City Manager Paul Arevalo.

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“Paul Arevalo is worth every cent we pay him,” Jeanne Dobrin, who attends virtually all public hearings told WeHo News. “He does an excellent job. I think he’s being paid well and deserving of it."

So what actually makes them 'deserving' of such high salaries?

A city manager is an appointed position when the form of government in a city is a council-manger. Council-manager government is when the mayor serves as the chairman to the council and holds a largely ceremonial role. The city manager on the other hand supervises the city government and implements policy.

A city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of all city departments and staff, including hiring, firing, disciplining and suspending staff. They must also prepare, monitor and execute all aspects of the city’s budget; attend city council meetings; serve as the council’s main technical advisor; are the head of all public relations in terms of meeting with citizens, businesses, and stakeholders; as well as any other duties the council may assign. They don't, however, have any voting rights.

But despite the all the duties that may or may not justify such salaries, California Attorney General Jerry Brown says he expects legal action in “weeks, not months” for Rizzo, according to Bloomberg.

Brown even went as far as to claim that legal violations may include both civil and criminal statues.

“We want to see their e-mails, we want to see the ordinances, the resolutions, the minutes of meetings -- we want to find out exactly how they ever came to the conclusion that city officials should make so much money,” Brown said.

The city of Bell has a population of 38,000, made up of a largely Latino population with a per-capita income of $24,800 in 2008, which is in stark contrast to the $1.5 million Rizzo received.

The Los Angeles County grand jury as well as Attorney General Brown have subpoenaed all financial records and documents and are currently reviewing them for voter fraud and other scams, according to a recent update on Bloomberg.

But that's not all the legal trouble Rizzo is currently facing. He was arrested March 6 for DUI chargers, according to KTLA, and will now have to face the city he has been avoiding since the scandal first came out.

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Rizzo, however has put city managers all over in the tough position of public scrutiny as citizens in Bell issued a warning to people across Los Angeles to look into their own city to make sure no scandal is taking place there as well.