This year, we had a smattering of missteps across the state. People were recalled from office. City officials were accused of nepotism, embezzlement, drugs, drunk driving, assault, battery, conflict of interest, or fraud. Ok, so there might be plenty of material to draw upon for the PublicCEO Blunder of the Year Award.
But no single event, even a purse-snatching mayor, can compare to the years of conspiracy and theft that allegedly occurred in Bell.
In fact, the scope of that municipal nightmare has reverberated across the country. It in an interview with PublicCEO last year, Joe Gottlieb, who helped break the story, described the scope of the nightmare. “”Of all the stories I have written, this has brought the highest level of outrage,” Gottlieb said.
That outrage cooled to a simmer in the months after the story broke, when Rizzo and his cohorts resigned themselves to a fate decided by the court, but the fury hasn’t been forgotten.
Some months later, when Rizzo was discovered doing community service in a parking lot in a nearby town, reporters covered the story. The publicity forced him from the job. And I have to imagine that at least a few people across the state smiled.
As previously reported on our website “The stories by Gottlieb and Vives have changed how local governments operate now and into the future. The impact of the Bell scandal is far-reaching, leading to transparency policies for local governments throughout California.”
Change certainly did come to California. The State Controller’s Office launched its effort to collect and publish all local government employee pay in the state. So far, they have been mighty effective in increasing transparency for pay.
But when the Bell 8 are convicted (or found innocent), and Bell regains the upper hand on the finances ravished by such a corrupt group of so few, that ought to be the lesson that’s remembered.
From the terrible act of dishonesty and deceit that was committed on a poor community came steps that will prevent the same behavior from pillaging the coffers of others.
In closing, while PublicCEO would like to recognize the failures of humanity who once ‘led’ Bell, California. However, we wouldn’t dare soil our name by giving them an award.
Instead, PublicCEO is proud to ensure they continue to live in infamy.
We thereby declare that from this year onward, the PublicCEO Blunder of the Year Award will be known as the PublicCEO Bell Award.
Other PublicCEO Second Annual Local Government Award Winners Already Announced:
PublicCEO Service to the State Award
PublicCEO Ordinance of the Year Award
PublicCEO Public Information Officer of the Year
Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from PublicCEO.com. For more information, please contact the editor, Dan Oney at Dan@PublicCEO.com.