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Editorial

Down on Rizzo's farm

As the Bell scandal shows, public disclosure on the Internet of compensation received by California's city, county and school officials is needed.

February 16, 2011

What do the former city officials of Bell consider themselves today? Pigs or hogs?

Those aren't our words. They're the words of Angela Spaccia, the former assistant city administrator, who claimed to be quoting her boss, former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, according to e-mails made public this week that offer the first evidence of just how comfortable and confident Bell's leaders were as they lined their own pockets.

"I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money?!" the incoming police chief, Randy Adams, wrote to Spaccia.

"LOL … well you can take your share of the pie … just like us!!!" Spaccia wrote to Adams about the inflated paycheck he was about to receive. "We will all get fat together."

Somehow, we're not LOLing.

Spaccia went on to quote a favorite expression of Rizzo's. "Pigs get Fat … Hogs get slaughtered!!!! So long as we're not Hogs… All is well." As she and Rizzo face criminal charges of misappropriating funds, the analogy is too fitting to ignore.

The Legislature has responded to the Bell scandal with a spate of reform bills. Of those, the most important is a bill that would require public disclosure on the Internet of compensation received by California's city, county and school officials. A bill with the same provisions never made it out of the Legislature last year, and even this one doesn't go far enough. Legislators and state administrative officials should be included in any such transparency laws.

An informed public is the best protection against buying a pig in a poke. Or a hog.

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