Posts Tagged ‘robert rizzo’

The reporting team  and Pulitzer Prize Winners for Public Service, led by Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb, was hailed for “Breach of Faith,” which exposed the deep seated  municipal corruption in the city of Bell, California, and displayed the  excessive compensation packages received by city officials.  In the Los Angeles suburb of 36,000, city manager Robert Rizzo had received annual compensation of $1.5 million in salary and benefits, the reports showed, with similar pay packages going to the police chief and other city administrators.  The Times reporters uncovered the malfeasance while investigating a separate story in the neighboring city of Maywood.  Vives and Gottlieb described the story behind the coverage in an August event at USC Annenberg. (Watch the video here).  In the official award citation, the panel of judges called the team’s work “the finest tradition of shoe-leather investigative reporting,” and hailed the group for their service to the public.  Eight former and current city officials have been arrested in the aftermath of the scandal, and the state controller’s office has ordered municipalities around California to post the salaries of officials on the Internet.  On a side note Jeff Gottleib was a reporter for the Riverside Press Enterprise for about thirty years. We can sure use him now.


In my opinion it’s always been the nature of government to propose the proposition if there is no trail to an incident or event,  it didn’t occur.  In a free society we expect accountability and transparency, not some semantical play on words leading us further from the truth.  What is really disturbing is the fruition of a culture which has become unrepresentative of the needs of the community and has  become increasingly detached from mainstream economic theory, that its interference with the free market takes precedence.  What is best for the community is simply to do the right thing.   If that was done at all, we would not have so many employees fired at will.  But in retrospect, couldn’t this in essence,  be construed as a reflection of leadership?  And leadership can inadvertently distort the truth as a mechanism of defense.  Whereby an initial account of truth once disseminated, is followed by a transfiguration there of,  eventually becoming a subterfuge leading the community with a distorted perception of the truth.  For these reasons people are angry, people are frustrated, economically stressed and foremost, people are now asking questions.  Having questions is one thing, asking them is another.  People are feeling intimidated and afraid of government, and for good reason for which it has been quietly expressed in the community.  What has happened to our government, our protector and fervent leader?  What has propagated an entitled culture to developed independently of  the needs of surrounding community?  We have seen this within cities such as Bell.  People shouldn’t  have to feel that they are wrong  or be  intimidated by asking questions of public servants, or to feel they may be retaliated against.  Remember, elected and appointed officials are there to work at the pleasure of the people.

“Fear is the foundation of most Governments…”       

– John Adams, 2nd President of the United States of America,  January 1776

City Attorney Greg Priamos states he is there to protect the mayor and the council.  Is this an aberration of duty?  Or a momentary lapse of clarity?  …such as when an inquiry is initiated, and the assertion of attorney-client privilege is spawned.   Attorney-client privilege?…. lets analytically conceptualize the relationship.  In our tangible world it simply means the relationship between attorney and client, whereby the client hires the attorney for a fee.  Elected and appointed officials work at the pleasure of the people, taxpayers, and the community etc.,  therefore are we not their employers?  In essence, is the City Attorney present to protect the people and serve at the pleasure there of?  Therefore, would we not be his client?   An employee is still considered to be an employee, and we the people are technically their employer.  Such as the case of Best, Best & Krieger representing the Chief of Police via the tax payer,  we the employer/the CEO, do we not have the right to know what he may have done wrong and how it damages us as the employer?   Furthermore, is it the taxpayer/employer which must then hire a third party entity such as BB&K to actually tell us, again the taxpayer/employer, not the truth?  Led of course, by former Riverside DA Grover Trask, now with BB&K.  The City Manager, serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and the Council,  and therefore the responsibility of his actions reflects upon the mayor and council, it would be considered a breach of trust and of their fiduciary duty to the community  if they did otherwise.  It should also be assumed that the city council and mayor if necessary, could conduct themselves as city manager.  This would imply, a mastery of the appointed position, and this should be a requirement to becoming mayor or a member of the city council.  Understanding the work of the City manager is not only necessary but pertinent to the understanding the intricacies of the general fund.  Therefore there would be no justification to an aberrational abuse as seen with City Manager Robert Rizzo of the city of Bell.

Those that have been there longest have attained institutional memory, of which could be detrimental to a leaders agenda.  Ridding the work force of this intangible phenomenon insures the likelihood of implementing ones agenda without question, regardless if it is right or wrong.   Of course, those with institutional memory know right from wrong.  Is it a benefit to leadership to control and to rid their immediate arena of institutional memory?  And when expelled from the work arena,  does it have a corresponding price?  Duck taping a mouth always has a price within a city gone rogue. (Note: This Original Link Dissapeared From The Press Enterprise Site).  Without integrity there ultimately would be no need to question the actions of representative leadership.  Say what you don’t mean and mean what you don’t say.  Thank-you Sean Gill and Raychele Sterling for doing the rightful work of the people and with the integrity, and thank-you for asking the questions which help us, the taxpaying community,  to protect us from the abuse of public funds.  You have not been forgotten….