Another small city in the Los Angeles area has been paying very high salaries to local officials. The situation in Vernon comes a month after similar revelations in Bell. While the salaries came from city budgets, the pensions for those officials are another matter. Reporter: John Myers
When controversy erupted over the salaries of officials in the city of Bell, Randy Adams had only been police chief there for a short time. But Adams had previously been police chief in Glendale and Simi Valley, and was a veteran member of the police force in Ventura.
And yet even though it was Bell where his salary skyrocketed, it's not just Bell that pays his pension.
He worked at Bell for one year, and Glendale, Simi Valley, and Ventura have to pay those $411,000 pension payments. Bell has to pay just 3 percent of his pension costs, said Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale).
On Thursday, Gatto and a group of his fellow Democrats introduced proposals directly tailored to the Bell salary scandal. Assemblymember Gatto's bill makes it simple: the city that offers the big salary to an official is the city that pays in the long run.
"I think it's only fair. We would never imagine a situation where one city would force another city to pay for potholes in another city, to force the city to pay for the garbage collection in another city. But we have a situation under current law where we allow one city to offer obscene salaries and force other cities to pay the pension benefits," said Gatto.
But the bill, if it passes, would not change what happened in Bell, though the Bell pension issue may be challenged in court. And the proposals introduced Thursday in the Assembly all look towards preventing future Bell-type controversies.
One of the bills allows more state oversight of some local salaries and requires contracts of city managers, police chiefs, and other top officials to be disclosed in public meetings. Another bill mandates salary disclosure on the internet, and requires the same online disclosure for members of the Legislature and legislative staff.
That last proposal makes it clear, said the Speaker of the Assembly, John Perez, that more, not less, reform is needed.
"This scandal has exposed a critical lack of transparency in the salaries of elected and appointed officials, despite California having one of the strongest sunshine laws in the nation," said Perez.
Perez says he will push to get all the measures onto the governor's desk by the end of the two-year legislative session on August 31st.
The measures are likely to get bipartisan support. Remember the example of Bell's now fired police chief, Randy Adams, who used to work in Simi Valley. The assemblymember representing that city, Republican Cameron Smyth, says officials in Bell haven't done enough to address the controversy.
"You know, their city council hasn't been too receptive to what their constituents have to say. And we want to make sure we give them a forum, so their voices are heard," said Smyth.
And to do that, Smyth, who is chair of the Assembly Local Government Committee, says he will soon travel down to Bell to convene a special hearing.