Dec 21, 2010

City Manager of Bell, California Censured

 The International City Management Association publicly censured the City Manager of Bell, California and separated him from ICMA.This was the strongest measure the professional association could take against on its members.

Board deliberations result in public censure and membership expulsion.
Robert Rizzo, former city manager, Bell, California, was publicly censured and expelled from membership in ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, by the ICMA Executive Board at its December 11, 2010, meeting.

The board found that Mr. Rizzo personally benefitted from misuse of city funds; failed in his fiduciary responsibility to ensure that public funds were legally and properly used for the public’s benefit; did not fully and accurately disclose his compensation in a transparent manner; and failed in his obligation to ensure that city matters were transparent and fully communicated to the council and public. 

The Board found that Mr. Rizzo’s conduct violated Tenets 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics as follows:    
  1. The manner in which Mr. Rizzo’s compensation was established did not follow normally accepted practices and lacked both transparency and adequate public disclosure leading to excessive compensation not supported by fair and reasonable market-based metrics and performance standards.
  2. A portion of Mr. Rizzo’s compensation was improperly charged to special district funds, which is not permitted under California law and is contrary to standard municipal financial practices restricting the use of special agency funds.
  3. Mr. Rizzo obtained a personal loan using public funds without proper authorization and provided loans of public funds to other city employees and elected officials that also lacked proper authorization and any justification that the loan program served a public benefit.
  4. Without approval of the city council, city funds were used to repay a personal loan Mr. Rizzo made from his retirement accounts of approximately $94,000.
  5. Mr. Rizzo failed to follow customary and legal purchasing requirements which resulted in the payment of $10.4 million over 15 years to a firm that had no valid contract with the City. Mr. Rizzo personally approved invoices issued in increments of $10,000. 
  6. Mr. Rizzo failed in his fiduciary responsibility to properly secure, segregate, and manage bond proceeds resulting in a loss of $1.7 million in interest earnings as well as the improper depositing of funds.  
ICMA members are expected to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct in order to maintain the trust and confidence of the public they serve.  

The action to publicly censure and expel Mr. Rizzo is the strongest action available to the ICMA Board.  The Board’s consideration of the case followed a thorough investigation by the ICMA Committee on Professional Conduct.