California Budget Woes

(10AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

The current mantra in the conservative circles of California government is those darn employees with their “cadillac pensions and benefits”. When painted with a broad brush, as the story goes, its these same government employees that are bankrupting the state and local municipalities.

In order to combat a crushing budget deficit of $450,000 the City of Maywood last month planned to layoff all of its employees and outsource its operations to a neighboring community.

Maywood, a small working-class community south of downtown Los Angeles, plans to lay off all its employees, disband its Police Department and turn over its entire municipal operations to a neighbor – an action that appears to be without precedent among California cities.

Maywood a largely hispanic community has a population of 28,991 people. Maywood’s cost of living is 13.60% Higher than the U.S. average. The unemployment rate in Maywood is 18.20 percent.

So who was handling city services for Maywood?  

Welcome to Bell, California.

Adjacent to Maywood is Bell, California and according to the L.A. Times is one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County.

Bell has a population of (as of July 2008) 36,657. And median household income (2008) $39,394 (California median household income: $61,021). Estimated per capita income in 2008: $13,244. It is estimated 17% of the cities population lives in poverty.

So what is all the hubbub about? Apparently Bell is very generous with their compensation.

[Bell] pays its top officials some of the highest salaries in the nation, including nearly $800,000 annually for its city manager, according to documents reviewed by The Times.

In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City’s police commissioner. Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia makes $376,288 annually, more than most city managers.

Interestingly enough … some of the names are the same.

Maywood’s acting city manager, Angela Spaccia, declined to comment on the vote. She also declined to make employees available to talk with the media. Before taking the Maywood job, she was the assistant city manager of Bell.

So how did this happen? In 2005, the year the California Legislature limited the pay of council members statewide Bell was able to find a loophole. A state law was enacted that limits the pay of council members in “general law” cities, a category that includes most cities in Southern California.

But the year that law passed, the Bell City Council authorized a special election with only one item on the ballot – a measure calling for Bell to convert to a “charter” city. The move was billed as one that would give the city more local control. The ballot language included no mention of the effect the change would have on council members’ salaries.

All five council members signed the ballot statement in favor of Measure A. It also was backed by City Manager Robert Rizzo, according to a council member in office at the time. Rizzo “sold the idea to me,” former Councilman Victor Bello said. Council members subsequently signed off on contracts that have boosted Rizzo’s pay to $787,637 annually, making him probably the highest paid city manager in the country.

[..]Since passage of the measure, salaries for council members – part-time employees – have jumped more than 50%, from $61,992 a year to at least $96,996.

A special election with little details that an impoverished population will really bring out the votes? In a city of nearly 40,000 the charter measure passed, 336 to 54, less than 1% voted.  

Compare that to the average California State employee.

Seventy-eight percent of all service retirees in June 2010 received $36,000 or less a year. Based on 20 years of service and an average retirement age of 60.

Is there abuse in the system … yes … but the MSM paints these exceptions as the rule of thumb. As always its the elected officials and executive staff that have abused their authority. However when the Governor looks to correct the abuses who does he turn to but the very same executive staff that is gaming the system.

His is the same mantra as all other Republicans that came before … Government is the problem … well it is … AT THE VERY TOP!  

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  1. :o)

  2. ….. same **** as the “Charter School” crap.  Privatize and rip people off.

  3. no one has a job anymore.  

    It will then be just the chosen few (them, of course), and the rest will be slaves.

  4. ….. social and religious leaders.   It’s always the wealthy religious fundamentalists that do NOT send their children to public schools, that are pushing this crap. Their mantra is “we will privatize and save the taxpayer XXXX number of dollars”  and then it always turns out that the brilliant bean counter they put in to cut benefits, cut hours,  and lay off people is making tons more money than their predecessor.  



    Compare that to the average California State employee.

    Seventy-eight percent of all service retirees in June 2010 received $36,000 or less a year. Based on 20 years of service and an average retirement age of 60.

    doesn’t that say it all.

    Much easier for the Republican Neocon Wing to bash “the unions” constantly than to admit they want to put little old retired ladies on the chopping block of the Cat Food Commission.

  5. in Washington State. Many years ago, in an earlier life, I used to camp at Lake Cushman State Park, and usually found that it was necessary to arrive early on weekends, since the park filled quickly.  There was no admission fee, but there was a small charge for camp sites. Tacoma Power had made the land available at no cost for the purpose of using it as a park. Despite this, the state decided in 2002, due to budgetary concerns, to close it.  After this travesty, Tacoma Power found someone else to operate the area as a park.  Part of this sad story can be found here.

    Now in private hands, the park currently charges a five dollar admission fee, with an extra $2.50 if there is a pet in the vehicle.  

    Here are a couple of photos representing the location lost to the taxpayers of Washington State in order to curry favor from The Boeing Company, Microsoft, and the other usual suspects.

    Lake Cushman Pictures, Images and Photos

    Lake Cushman in Washington State, right by my house Pictures, Images and Photos

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