Cities don't come more opposite than Bell and Beverly Hills.

The former is 90 percent Latino, with an average household income of $30,000 per year. Its city government is drowning in an impossible pile of debt, and residents are still feeling the hurt of corrupt policing and fines after barely surviving one of California's biggest public-salary scandal ever.

Beverly Hills, on the other hand, is world-famous for its stability:

Residents are so comfy and loaded that most could care less what their city politicians are making. So what if City Manager Jeff Kolin rakes in $274,000 per year? My dog's vitamins cost more than that!

Which makes their new partnership a little puzzling, or at least amusing.

Last Friday, the Bevery Hills City Council voted 3-2 in favor of lending up to $10,000 in “staffing assistance” to Bell, answering its worse-off southeast neighbor's call for help.

It's not the first city to do so. Interim Bell City Administator Arne Croce says Santa Monica has lent police officials to help negotiate a new contract for Bell's own cops, who aren't very happy about the prospect of losing the cushy six-figure salaries they enjoyed under Robert Rizzo & Co.

San Luis Obispo and San Mateo have likewise sent down financial advisors to assist Bell's overwhelmed rotation of interim city managers and administrators in tackling the mess Rizzo left behind.

But Beverly Hills? Really? Councilmember Lili Bosse, one of two who voted against the Bell rescue effort, touched on the irony of 90210 lending advice to a city plagued by inflated salaries:

“I think we have our own PR issues to deal with in our community right now, in terms of salary issues and frustrations about how some of our city departments are functioning.”

The Weekly raised an eyebrow last year when the City Manager himself was gifted “a $1.6 million housing loan at an interest rate that hovers around 3 percent” by City Councilmembers, with city funds.

And it's not just the top dogs who are sitting pretty. Beverly Hills' humblest workers are set to become millionaires under their insane pension packages. “Even a lowly street sweeper will see $1.143 million in pension benefits following retirement if she lives to average life expectancy,” we wrote earlier this month. “Parking enforcement officer? Nearly $1.6 million. Assistant city librarian? $3 million!”

The other “No” vote on Friday came from Councilman John Mirisch, who feels Beverly Hills' #whitepersonproblems are more pressing than the crisis down south:

“I personally feel we have too many issues and problems in our own city. … Occasionally residents feel theyre not able to get a hold of someone and get the right service, or that things are postponed. … And those are real issues.”

Right. If you consider having to live above a plebeian subway, or tolerate mansions larger than yours being built next door, “real issues.”

Bell City Councilman Nestor Valencia says post-Rizzo Bell is on the verge of collapse, with “contracts that are irregular and lawsuits up the ying-yang.” And, in the understatement of the century, Croce says there is “not a lot of organizational infrastructure in place.”

Still, the Beverly Hills Courier was noticeably annoyed by the city manager's costly proposal to lend a helping hand, in an August 26 article:

“90210 to pay for 90201? Beverly Hills City Manager Jeff Kolin has apparently volunteered to send City staff members, apparently at Beverly Hills' expense, to try and administer the city of Bell.”

(We like how “City” is capitalized for Beverly Hills, but not for Bell, which is apparently just a “city.” Read: unworthy third-world ghetto. Heh.)

What do you think? Is Beverly Hills fit to be giving a broken town financial advice, given its own habits of opulence? And would lessons learned in Beverly Hills even apply to such a dramatically different community?


LA Weekly