Disgraced Calif. City Manager Goes From $800K A Year To Life 'Behind Cars'

January 13, 2011

Mark Memmott

Whoever wrote this headline on the Los Angeles Times' website is really good:

"Robert Rizzo Is Serving Time Behind Cars."

If you don't recognize the name, it's still likely you've heard about Rizzo and other (now former) officials in Bell, Calif. He's the city manager who the Times last year revealed was being paid nearly $800,000 a year. As NPR's Ina Jaffe has reported, not only did he and others in the local government get big salaries at a time when local governments are stretched for cash, "they allegedly used city coffers for nearly $2 million in personal loans."

Rizzo and others in on the alleged scheme, as the Times says, have been charged with misappropriating public funds.

The must-read stories this morning, though, are the reports in the Times and the local Daily Pilot about the volunteer work Rizzo is doing. He's spending time as a security guard in the parking lot at the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum.

The gig may have something to do with the 10 days of community service Rizzo was sentenced to last August after pleading guilty to "driving with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit," the Daily Pilot writes. All Rizzo would tell the Times is that "I enjoy volunteering."

Museum director Gary Sahagen says Rizzo's doing a good job. "He's come up with some good ideas and implemented them -- he's a self-starter," Sahagen told the Daily Pilot. "He's got a head on his shoulders." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.