Bell: Robert Rizzo Gave Questionable Loans

At this point it's starting to seem like using a firearm to kill aquatic life in a barrel-like object, but still worth noting: Another Times story on Robert Rizzo, the former Bell city manager who was making nearly $800,000 per year when he retired in July under a cloud that looks increasingly dark.

The Times reports Rizzo gave two loans of nearly $400,000 to two Bell city businesses without public debate or approval of the City Council, whose own members were making nearly $100,000 per year until they all agreed to take a pay cut last month.

One loan for $300,000 went to a Chevy dealer who went out of business without having repaid any of it.

The second loan went to the Steelworkers Old Timers Foundation, a senior citizens group run by George Cole, often spoken of by people in Bell as a kind of political godfather of the city. He was on the City Council when the loan was extended in 2005. It's not clear if it was paid back.

It's not totally unusual for cities to make economic development loans (hey, 300k to a Chevy dealer is nothing compared to billions for GM!) but the terms were unusual, according to the experts the Times consulted.

For instance: "This is a complete breakdown of checks and balances," said veteran municipal lawyer Michael G. Colantuano. "It's plainly illegal."

Whoops.

Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor, and District Attorney Steve Cooley, who is running for A.G., are engaged in a joint investigation, and no doubt would love, love an indictment before November, though these matters usually take longer.

Still, drip, drip, drip....


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