More waste, fraud, and abuse from Bell, CA

October 21, 2010

An audit report of Bell, California – the west coast’s poster child for irresponsible city government – outlines that gross waste, fraud and abuse, combined with a shocking lack of oversight, cost the city’s taxpayer’s more than $5.5 million.

Below is an excerpt of today’s Los Angeles Times look at the report; please click here to read the entire article.

Bell’s former Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo and two other top officials got a portion of their lucrative compensation by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a fund that was supposed to be used to provide housing for low-income residents, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

The audit of the Bell Community Redevelopment Agency also found that the city wrongly spent about $180,000 of the affordable housing funds on cellphones, car washes, car batteries and landscaping while City Council members — charged with overseeing the agency’s budget — failed to provide “any meaningful oversight.”

“Public money dedicated to increasing affordable housing and maintaining local roads were instead used as a self-indulgent slush fund to pay for excessive salaries, perks and other unlawful expenses,” said state Controller John Chiang, whose office prepared the report.

The audit is the second report issued by Chiang to conclude that council members, despite earning nearly $100,000 for their part-time work, failed repeatedly to watch over the city’s treasury and created an environment ripe for fraud, waste and misappropriation of public money.

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