CorruptAuthority.com is NOT a political movement, and is NOT intended to endorse or support political views of any nature.
We believe that those in power and those in a position of public trust should be held to higher standards of honesty, morals, ethics, and integrity than the public at large.
In this regard, we do not view public corruption as simply the commission of a crime. Instead, it represents a disregard and offense against the very system, that we entrust to those in a position of authority, which is intended to protect us.
We do not oppose government, or those in position of authority. However, we demand that government be fully accountable to its citizens, and work tirelessly to protect the ideals upon which our nation was founded.
What our name says about us…
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~Lord Acton
Not much has changed since these words were written in 1887 by English historian, John Dalberg-Acton. Today, there is no shortage of those in power, and accordingly, no shortage of corruption.
The mission of CorruptAuthority.com is to collect and present for our readers current news stories that report on unethical and illegal behavior, fraudulent activities, greed, lapses of moral judgment and other reprehensible acts of public officials, union leaders and big businesses. We scan the Internet and ferret out stories, both large and small, in the hopes of exposing the wrong-doers to the largest audience possible.
While no one is perfect and everyone is capable of making mistakes, the type of actions we discover everyday go far beyond what any reasonable person would find acceptable for those given trust and authority.
Founder and Managing Editor: Michael Dubelko
The inspiration for Corrupt Authority came from a series of investigative news stories in the Los Angeles Times covering the financial looting of the community of Bell, California, a small working-class suburb of 40,000 mostly Latino residents about 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The median household income in Bell is about $40,000 per year.
The scandal began with a single story in the Times on July 14, 2010 reporting that Bell City Manager, Robert Rizzo, was paid an annual salary of $787,637, the Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia received $376,288 and newly-hired Police Chief Randy Adams made $457,000. Other city department heads earned as much as three times the salaries paid to officials in neighboring communities.
The story exposed the city administrators as likely the highest paid in the nation, and understandably, outrage in the community was immediate. Those knowledgeable in city government were amazed by the salaries, and cited examples of major metropolitan areas such as New York City and Los Angeles which paid its own city leaders a fraction of that which Bell officials received. While shocking and outrageous, the salaries were only the beginning of the story…
Within days, the scandal began to take on an entirely new dimension as Times reporters unearthed even more staggering information after sifting through records obtained by public records requests. Among the further revelations in the following 60 days:
- Bell City Council members made about $100,000 per year from their part time job. Under state law, based on its population as a small city, council members were entitled to only $4,800 per year. To get around this salary cap, the city fathers cleverly held a special election at a cost of about $60,000 to the taxpayers, bestowing upon itself “charter city” status, exempting it from state rules. Of its 40,000 residents, only 390 people voted in the special election, 239 by absentee ballot. The measure easily passed with 86% voting for the measure.
- Officials at California’s state pension fund knew about the outlandish salaries as much as four years earlier and did nothing about it. In fact, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System granted an exemption to its rules in 2006 so that the Bell city manager could get a 47% pay hike and still receive a full pension on his salary.
- Additional outlandish salaries were discovered; a director of administrative service was earning $422,707; a director of community services received $421,402; a business development coordinator earned $295,627 and a police captain was making $238,075. Throughout the corrupt administration, officials were getting rich while the average city household income was $36,000 per year.
- One of the elected officials, Bell councilman Luis Artiga, didn’t even appear to be a resident of the city – at least according to the Times. Artiga owns and seemingly lives in a large home in a neighboring community, but claims that he and his extended family lives in a small apartment behind the church where he is the pastor.
- Additional records showed that, when taking into account the benefits paid by the city, Rizzo’s annual pay package totaled over $1.5 million. Rizzo’s package included over 20 weeks of paid vacation, huge pension benefits and outsized health and other insurance packages. Police Chief Adams’ package was calculated to be worth $770,046 and Assistant City Manager Spaccia’s totaled $845,960.
- City officials made secret loans to themselves and other employees out of city coffers exceeding $1.5 million. Rizzo alone received loans totaling $900,000. None of the loans were reported on financial disclosure forms, as required by state law.
- The city illegally raised property taxes in 2007, imposing a “retirement surcharge” to cover the massive pension costs on the inflated salaries handed out to crooked city managers. The overcharged property taxes have since been ruled illegal, and were determined to be in the amount of $2.9 million.
- City Administrator Rizzo gave city loans to two businesses totaling $400,000 without any public discussion or approval from city council. One went to a local Chevrolet dealership in the amount of $300,000. The company has since folded within a year of receiving the monies and the city was never repaid anything.
- The Chief of Police was hired with the understanding that the city would facilitate an arrangement whereby the Chief would be declared disabled for pension purposes- even before he reported to work on the first day. The agreement would allow him to receive millions of dollars of pension payments on a tax- free basis. Meanwhile, his former employer, the City of Glendale, disputes any notion that Adams was ever disabled while working there.
- A lawsuit by former police officer James Corcoran accused the city officials of using off-duty police officers to distribute absentee ballots to voters and telling them which candidates to select. City officials also filled out and submitted absentee ballots for dead people.
On September 21, 2010, eight city employees were arrested, allegedly having stolen over $5.5 million. City Administrator Rizzo alone was charged with 53 counts including misappropriation of public funds, falsification of documents and conflicts of interest. The story doesn’t end here, but this page does.
Clearly, if this could happen in Bell, California where officials didn’t spend much time concealing their crimes, it could happen anywhere.