Hi, my names is Gerald Lee Carroll and I live at Los Angeles and I’d like to share this news.
I’m very happy that Gottlieb and Vives from the L.A. Times got a Pulitzer! I followed up all the Bell city scandal story as it unfolded and they really contributed to make a change. If you are not aware of who they are and what they discovered it looks a bit like a Sopranos episode, without the gory bits: the city administrators robbed their community, had not been by these reporters it would have kept on going. Today there is a new administration, humble tax payers have been refunded and the corrupt plot was made public and might (should) go to jail.
I you want to take a look on the articles, there is a great time line here: http://timelines.latimes.com/bell/
The story was really worth a Pulitzer Price. The articles implied a thorough and brave research and casted lights on things one thinks belong to other times, left behind. How can California be thriving states when this kind of people seizes the city halls?
It took the Los Angeles Times a team of 20 reporters and editors, led by Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives to reveal that Bell officials secretly enriched themselves with extravagant salaries and benefits. This was carried out by illegally raising taxes on the city’s residents, who are amongst the poorest in Los Angeles County: the people found responsible of this where Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who received an $800,000 salary and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in perks, city manager, his assistance Angela Spaccia, Police Chief Randy Adams and the major himself.
For those who have never been there, is not the kind of place one would go as a tourist. But I have friends there and it is a hard-working area, where life may be though but the community sense and bonds are strong. My sister Anne Lee Carroll used to work at the community center at Bell, LA County and I have been, I think this kind of research by the LA Times will certainly help the community progress. My father, late Gerald Lee Carroll senior, was has also committed to the Bell library activities and the Pulitzer for the LA Times on this matter would certainly make him happy.
Bell is located in Los Angeles County, California. The city is located on the west bank of the Los Angeles River and is actually a suburb of the city of Los Angeles. It is also one of the smallest cities in the United States to have that have a population of more than 25,000.
But, believe or not, this was not the first time Bell gained notoriety: in March 2000, Bell gained worldwide publicity, before Rizzo and his gang became famous, the media announced that a shipment of 55 Oscar statuettes was stolen from a trucking company loading dock in Bell. It was the second Oscar mishap, since earlier that month 4,000 ballots were misrouted. And, oh surprise, the missing Oscar ballots were found by the post office in a Bell processing center.
The city manager Robert Rizzo, who was in his charge during the Oscars steal (I wonder if he had something to do with it or just looked on the other side), received $787,637 a year (almost double the salary of the President of the United States). And including benefits, he received $1.5 million in the last year. His assistant Angela Spaccia, was earning $376,288 a year, more than the top administrator for Los Angeles County and the police chief, Randy Adams, was paid $457,000, 33% more the Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Of course, they all three resigned following the LA Times reports and public outcry. All but one of the members of the city council were receiving $100,000 for their part-time work. Council members in cities similar to Bell in size make an average of $4,800 a year, prosecutors have noted.
I think it is a good story worth reposting. I was at the same time amazed and angry as I followed the story, but the outcome has made me feel changing things is possible.
Justice comes in strange ways. Keep you posted.