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Schwarzenegger considers bills to prevent Bell-type pay, pension excesses

But city representatives and legal experts say some of the rules aimed at avoiding deals such as those given to Robert Rizzo could spark legal battles that would have to be decided in the courts.

September 19, 2010|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

And the League of California Cities argues that the bill would violate the state Constitution, which allows charter cities to control what they pay their managers. That issue could end up in court, according to Levinson, an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School.

The governor is also facing pressure to veto two bills aimed at blocking the practice of pension spiking. Rizzo's salary was boosted 47% in one year, making him eligible for a much higher pension.

Pension reform has been debated for years in Sacramento, and the two measures were introduced months before the Bell scandal broke. But their sponsors say they would help prevent the kinds of excesses seen in Bell.

The bills would bar the use of pay raises for a single individual to be counted toward pensions unless others get similar raises, and would allow pension boards to deny pension payments they believe are intentionally spiked.

The California State Assn. of Counties is urging a veto, questioning the effectiveness of the provisions meant to stop the spiking of pensions.

Paul McIntosh, the group's executive director, said one targets individual workers, such as city managers, who are not part of a large employee class, and does not address spiking that may occur because of pay provided in union contracts.

As a result, McIntosh said, "Unfortunately, counties believe that the bill falls short of a complete end to spiking."

Sen. Louis Correa (D- Santa Ana), a sponsor of the other bill, said arguments that any one proposal doesn't solve the whole problem do not justify a veto.

"What happened in Bell was outrageous"' Correa said. "This is one of many remedies."

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