Nearly a year after a municipal corruption scandal blew up in the Los Angeles County city of Bell, resulting in the forced resignation of top officials, new leaders say the city is beginning to take the initial steps toward fiscal health.
Newly anointed interim chief administrative officer Arne Croce, who started work this week, is working on the adoption of a city budget. His weekly salary of $3,230 with no benefits is a dramatic drop from the $1.5 million annual salary and compensation package received by former city manager Robert Rizzo.
Bell has been without a permanent leader since July 2010 when Rizzo was fired. Rizzo, his chief assistant and six former City Council members face charges of fraud and misappropriation of public funds.
Rizzo is accused of looting the treasury of Bell, a blue-collar city where one in six people live in poverty, to pay himself and the others enormous salaries, according to an Associated Press report.
Angry city residents launched a recall of the City Council in the wake of the corruption allegations and an entire new slate was elected in a special election held in March.
The new mayor and council faced great difficulties in finding qualified candidates for the position that Croce finally filled.
The League of California Cities stepped in to aid the city in the process that eventually led to the hiring of Croce, who formerly worked as the city manager of San Mateo and Los Altos in Northern California.