Many Calif. Cities on the Hook for Bell Pensions

When the angry citizens of Bell, Calif., forced their outrageously overpaid city manager and police chief to resign, it may be the best thing that ever happened to the two. Consider the pension now due city manager Robert Rizzo.

"His lifetime pension will be roughly $30 million," said Marcia Fritz of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

And the pension due police chief Randy Adams.

"His lifetime pension will be more like $15 to $17 million," said Fritz.

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But it's taxpayers in other cities who will be shelling out for these lavish pensions because in California every city or county an employee worked for has to pick up a portion of the pension. And the pension is based on the final year's salary alone, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

So police chief Adams, who worked just one year in Bell at a salary of $457,000, now qualifies for an annual pension of about $448,000. The city of Bell will pay just $13,449 a year. Glendale, where Adams worked for five years, will contribute $62,764. Simi Valley? More than $85,000. And Ventura, where he worked for 20 years, will pay more than $286,000 annually.

"It's just wrong," said Ventura resident Becky Rodkin. "He took advantage of the system and now everyone's going to have to take cutbacks and all of Ventura's going to have to pay for it."

For city manager Robert Rizzo's potential $890,000 annual pension, the city of Rancho Cucumonga where he worked more than 20 years ago will have to pay about $185,000 and Hesperia more than $74,000.

"There's no control," said Fritz. "And they don't even know it's hitting them until it hits them."

The only good news for all these communities is that California's attorney general Jerry Brown is investigating whether the exorbitant salaries in Bell should be excluded from their pensions.

More Scandal Coverage

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  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.