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Jerry Brown on City of Bell Salaries & Meg Whitman

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Following a press conference about city of Bell salaries, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown took to TV cable news, speaking with Neil Cavuto on the FOX Business Network.

“I want to find out what was the basis," Brown said about the Bell salaries. "Because on the face of it, it seems irrational and capricious. Nobody makes almost $800,000 for being a city manager in a town of less than 40,000 people. That’s more than the president, that’s more than anybody else in America as far as I can tell. If we can find wrong doing here then we can roll back that salary and we can protect the impact on the pension. Because this thing is not just pay out for today, but a payout for decades if it fits into the pension system that California has.”

But Cavuto was curious what happens if Brown finds nothing illegal.

“If it is [lega] we are going to put a stop to it. When you act as a public official, you have a fiduciary duty to the people. That means you have to act with reason and not capriciously," Brown replied. "The city charter of the city of Bell says that the salary is to be commensurate with the duties. So what are these duties that allow the manager to make almost $800,000 the police chief to make over $400,000 far more than the police chief of Los Angeles? And how does this thing fit together when the city councilmen are making almost $100,000. Something really smells.”

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Brown went on to explain his frugal approach to government in relation to Bell. But that had Cavuto comparing him with gubernatorial opponent Meg Whitman. "You sound like your Republican opponent, Meg Whitman. It's almost word-for-word what she says," he said.

BROWN: Well, no, you'll -- listen, wait a minute, this lady gave herself $120 million and then they had to lay off 20 percent of the employees. She had a private jet that flew her around for 200 hours on private... CAVUTO: Yes, but she wasn't on the tax-payer's dime, you know what I'm saying?

BROWN: No, but that was shareholders, and shareholders are really the citizens of the corporation. So, look, she is flying around on a private jet. She has almost 100 employees paying -- spending $500,000 a day. It's the only business that I know of that has no limit. There's no sense of cost containment. And that's not a good preparation to take over California which is $19 billion in the hole.

CAVUTO: But, you know, people would turn it around, and your argument is sound one, Governor, but people might turn it around and say, well, we need to go to business types because they're experienced at dealing with waste, fraud, and abuse, and that's something that might come in handy in your state. And that is why she does as well as she does in the polls. You guys are neck-and-neck, but in almost any other day, at any other time, you should be trouncing her, right?

BROWN: Well, wait a minute. She spent over $100 million, I have spent one one-two hundredth of that. And the latest polls show me one or two points ahead.

CAVUTO: Yes, but you're a well-known name. You're everyone knows you. And up until a few months ago, no one knew her outside of the corporate circles.

BROWN: Well, no, more people know Meg Whitman than George Washington in California today. As a matter of fact, by the time the election comes around, I'm going to be the fresh face in the election, ironic as it may be.