China Has Locked Up the Energy the Rest of the World Will Need
Ex-official of Bell, Calif., pleads no contest to stealing millions
Judge Kathleen Kennedy indicated former city administrator Robert Rizzo would be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.
By IAN LOVETT
The New York Times
LOS ANGELES — Robert Rizzo, the former city administrator of Bell, Calif., accused of looting millions from city coffers, pleaded no contest to all 69 felony charges against him Thursday, prosecutors said.
On the eve of his trial, Rizzo made a surprise appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom and pleaded no contest to all charges, including misappropriating public funds, hiding and falsifying records, perjury and other crimes.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy indicated Rizzo would be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison, which would be the longest sentence in a Los Angeles County public-corruption case since at least 2001, according to the district attorney’s office.
His attorney said Rizzo would also likely be required to pay between $1 million and $3.2 million in restitution to the city.
“Although we were prepared to go to trial and felt confident we could convict Mr. Rizzo of all charges, we are pleased he chose to admit his guilt and accept full responsibility for the irreparable harm he caused the people of Bell,” said Jackie Lacey, the district attorney.
Often grimacing at photographers who followed him and — at least until now — publicly unrepentant, Rizzo, 59, became a symbol of municipal corruption after the Los Angeles Times reported in 2010 that he was paid a base salary of nearly $800,000 a year for managing the small working-class city just south of Los Angeles, where a quarter of the residents live below the federal poverty line. Rizzo’s benefits package boosted his compensation to $1.5 million a year.
Other city officials were paid huge sums; Rizzo’s assistant, Angela Spaccia, made $376,288 a year. Five former City Council members, who were paid as much as $100,000 annually for part-time work, were convicted on corruption charges this year.
But they pointed to Rizzo as the mastermind of the scheme to enrich themselves on Bell tax dollars. Rizzo, who once owned a ranch in Auburn, had been scheduled to stand trial, along with Spaccia, next week.
Rizzo and his lawyer had previously maintained that although his salary was high, he had broken no laws.
“Today was the first step toward Mr. Rizzo’s effort to accept responsibility and put his legal troubles behind him,” said James Spertus, his lawyer.
Rizzo will still face federal charges, Spertus said, which he expected to be filed in the coming weeks. He said Rizzo would now cooperate in the case against Spaccia.
The surprise no-contest plea was a bittersweet ending for Bell residents, who had hoped a trial would reveal more details of what went on during Rizzo’s 17-year tenure
When senior scientist Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 about fundamental design flaws at the nation’s largest facility to treat radioactive waste in Hanford, Wash., he was assigned to work in a basement room without office furniture or a telephone.
On Wednesday, Tamosaitis, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., was laid off from his job after 44 years with the company.
The concerns that Tamosaitis raised two years ago about the design of the waste treatment plant, a $12.3-billion industrial complex that would turn highly radioactive sludge into glass, were validated by federal investigators. Construction of the plant was halted and the Energy Department is trying to address a wide range of problems with the design.
Winston Churchill put it, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
The main problem with Obamacare is not its addictive generosity; it is its poor, unsustainable design. Its finances depend on forcing large numbers of young and healthy people to buy insurance — yet it makes their insurance more costly and securing coverage less urgent. (Because you can get coverage during each year’s enrollment period at the same price whether you’re healthy or sick, the incentive to buy coverage when healthy is much diminished.)
Low Orbit Ion Cannon
John F. McBrideSeattleVerified..I’m no expert on Affordable Care legislation, read about it as I may. I’m a combat veteran and our department of veterans affairs will address my health care in the years to come.
But I care immensely about the direction our nation takes and I know this about Affordable Care: it will insure fellow citizens who otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain insurance, and it will save this nation billions of dollars in our economy.
The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation told Paul Ryan that … “In a letter to Speaker Boehner (sent on July 24, 2012) CBO described the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act, as passed by the House of Representatives earlier in July. In that letter, CBO indicated that the net savings from eliminating the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions that repeal of the ACA would entail. On balance, CBO and JCT estimated, repealing the ACA would affect direct spending and revenues in ways resulting in a net increase in budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period.”
The ACA will cost over $1 trillion.
But it raises revenue and will progressively cut health care cost. As a result, the CBO estimates that the law as a whole will reduce deficits.
Republicans aren’t trying to be frugal by killing ACA.
They simply don’t like government programs that aren’t for them and theirs.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 2:09 a.m.Recommended22..SleaterChicagoVerified..I’m very glad to see Americans’ enthusiastic interest in the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare exchanges. I figured when all the dust settled and the sign up period started that far more people than anyone expected would be browsing the online offerings to see what they offered.
The need for health insurance is at desperation levels across the country, though if you only listened to journalists on TV or watched many reality shows, everyone is upper-middle-class and fine and worrying only about how to get their children into an Ivy League school or what model of expensive car to buy. In reality, quite a few of us in the 99% badly want and need what the Affordable Care Act has to offer.
I just hope we can work to improve and sustain it, and not let it fall prey to right-wing chicanery and demagoguery, the way that so many great New Deal and Great Society programs have. We can be fiscally responsible and ensure no American goes without the basics, which include a quality education, a decent place to live, food, clothing, health care, and equal opportunities for jobs and a viable living.
It took decades for such a law to be passed and signed; let’s work to ensure we have it for centuries to come.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:44 a.m.Recommended19
..Doug BroomeVancouver..I had no problems reaching healthcare.gov, and for the purposes of a brief visit falsely declared myself a resident of the Republican dystopia Texas. I trust I won’t be arrested at the border by Orwellian Homeland Security next time I take a jaunt to Seattle. I found the site easily navigable despite the best efforts of Texan creepy-nasty misanthrope Rick Perry to make the “navigators” (wonderful name) an extinct species, as needlessly dead as too many poor Texans denied health care.
Obamacare shouid be a success because the current American health care system delivers the worst results at by far the highest costs of any wealthy democracy, worse overall results at double the costs. (It generates huge profits, and Republicans love big money as surely as they love taking food from hungry poor children. The GOP’s raison d’etre is serving and profiting off the rich.)
Obamacare starts on the premise that health care should deal with the health of Americans rather than the $20 million bonuses of health executives, thereby re-establishing a natural order. And it encourages competition, something Republicans hate except for the competitive drive to the social policy bottom among sadistic Republican states.
The current system is set to maximize profits by bamboozling the victim with bafflegab but healthcare.gov clearly presents the alternative coverages. Granted, it’s still barbaric compared to real national health insurance but a vast improvement over the current inhumanity.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:40 a.m.Recommended30
..gregrockerl.a…Still there are Americans out there wondering how we got here. Since I was there and witnessed it on my radio, I’ll bear witness again:
Some of the dirtiest political tricksters on earth took over and set up the biggest disinformation operation in world history on our public AM radio airwaves. The German magazine Sterm surveyed it ten years ago and pronounced that it would “be the envy of Goebbels” They used this and a phonied up cable news channel operated by a Nixon trickster to dupe tens of millions of know-nothings and other neo-confederates only interested in taking down modernity and getting even with Yankees and other liberals.
Depending upon how they scare enough people their juggernaut includes up to a third of the population, utterly unmoored from facts and almost always acting loudly on entirely imaginary threats. Their leaders are almost all charlatans who have no shame.
Shame is exactly what is missing since without large-scale shaming as was done when a similar cohort of ignorants was raised in 1964, they are left to think they have the answers if they’ll only scream a little louder.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:25 a.m.Recommended28
..taikoOakland, CA..Good summary, Paul.
I’m only partly pleased about ACA because it doesn’t go far enough. At least I’d like to have seen an alternative insurance program provided by the feds for low income people. Alternately, I’d rather see Medicare for all or, better yet, socialized medicine like they have in the UK. I worked on the UK economy for several years and had no trouble getting access to health care.
That said, at least millions of formerly uninsured persons will now be covered. Maybe we can improve on our infant mortality rate (a key indicator of health care), which is now 54th in the world. Being civilized is about taking care of our own, and ACA, though far from perfect, is a big step in the right direction.
p.s. My wife and I are covered by a retirement health plan, so ACA doesn’t directly affect us. We just want to live in a civilized society where everybody has good access to health care.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.Recommended21
..MJonesSan Francisco..The Republicans got enough rope and were perhaps thrown off by Obama’s many earlier premature capitulations, that this time they overplayed their hand and sealed their own doom.
It’s not easy to get the truth out to voters in Republican states who have gerrymandered a permanent Republican advantage for all of their House Seats. Most people watch highly biased news as though it is factual reporting. But finally, the Republicans protested so long and so loudly against the socialist Obamacare healthcare law that even the naive ignorant voters in the Tea Party states know about it – under the name Affordable Health Care Act. Republicans must be cursing the day they gave Obama credit for this helpful social relief giving healthcare to those who previously couldn’t afford or couldn’t obtain insurance from the health insurance companies. What’s in a name? When voters are ignorant enough, they vote slogans – hence most are in favor of Affordable Care and totally opposed to Obamacare because they hate him. They are very surprised to discover their racial bias.
Now that it has been implemented, and is working, the Republicans are caught looking like the greedy, selfish, and rich-favoring privileged Good Old White Boys that most of them are.
Now the Republican Congressional Members are simply looking for a way to save face, They are in an embarrassing situation. but Barack and Nancy are in no mood to give them any relief. I’m sure many political ads will feature this event in 2014.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.Recommended21
..Michael WolfeHenderson, Texas..I tried to sign up. The e-health server for Texas said, because of my pre-existing conditions, that not one of the plans on the exchange would accept me. (The law says, if they accept me, they must pay for those pre-existing conditions; it does NOT say they must accept me.)
Basically, there are some very cheap plans for some persons. Why? Because they offer absolutely no benefits if one reads all the fine print. Will people sign up? Some will, either because they don’t read the fine print, or if the plans are cheaper than the tax for not signing up.
Ultimately, this is a huge windfall for the insurance companies who paid the requisite baksheesh to be allowed onto the exchanges. These companies are getting lots of people directed to sign up with them, but only people whose legally mandated benefits are much less than their legally mandated premiums.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:12 a.m.
D. MartinVero Beach, FloridaVerified..I live in a town full of people who would like to see Obama impeached and the Affordable Care Act revealed. They range from wealthy retirees to low-income people, and they faithfully vote for a congressman who will never vote to raise the debt limit.
This sort of alienation from the federal government is widespread, a major phenomenon in American society that perhaps isn’t very visible from more populated parts of the Northeast. Florida today is vastly more conservative than it was twenty or thirty years ago
In our form of government, the negative agendas of the Tea Party and the increasingly conservative federal judiciary can thwart moderate and progressive aspirations for effective government. The government shutdown seems merely a big example of the obstruction of government that’s going on all the time.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.Recommended
robertgeary9Portland OR..After reading a few of the disturbing items here, i.e., an ignorance about a law that is more than three years old; some Republicans who blatantly indicate that the common American should go without health coverage, I then wonder if we now resemble an empire close to its fall.
If so, to what cause do we attribute it? For example, ignorance usually is associated with sloth.
Furthermore, when one class despises another, snobbery is the usual culprit.
But perhaps, in today’s competitive atmosphere, maybe, just maybe, enough “young people” will stem the tide so that our nation, as we know it, may yet go on for another generation.
Or will it?
Oct. 4, 2013 at 12:40 a.m.
Gene AmparoSacramento, CA..”Will there be enough young, healthy enrollees to provide a favorable risk pool and keep premiums relatively low?” This is the key to understanding insurance of any kind: sharing the risk. Instead of thinking of Obamacare as yet another entitlement program foisted upon taxpayers by the government, think of it as risk sharing. It is an encouraging sign that Obamacare premiums are lower than expected and young people may indeed ignore those creepy conservative ads paid for by Tea Party members (older, affluent, white) and sign up, the same way young people ignored the anti-Obama election campaign ads and voted him into office in 2008 and again in 2012.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 12:38 a.m
Sheldon BuninJackson Heights NY..Defund Obamacare, that was the objective. That and continuation of sequester level spending. In exchange the insurrectionist neo-confederates, who have no interest in governing only the destruction of a government which serves anyone other than the .01% and requires no legislation, only a series of manufactured crises when it demands more and more freedom and respect.
Systematically they will demand freedom from voting, freedom from a living wage and safe working conditions and wage and hours laws, freedom from the habit forming programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, freedom from Dodd-Frank and any limitation on the power of banks and corporations from doing exactly what they want.
They will demand freedom from justice, fairness, equality before the law, democracy and good government. They also shall demand freedom to pillage the commons, our natural resources and to despoil our environment for the profit of the .01%.
They plan to achieve this by blackmail, extortion and taking the nation hostage. They want respect, love and deference. They revel in the injury they are inflicting but they to not wish to be called traitors, fascists, terrorists, corrupt and nut cases. They do not want their feelings hurt.
America needs to disrespect the Republican party as synonymous with traitors, fascists, terrorists, corrupted by bags of cash and ignorant nut cases. If the shoe fits etc., let them know what we think of them loud and often.
Oct. 4, 2013 at 12:24 a.m.
Jeremy Temple (top right), of Ohio, is facing animal cruelty charges after police rescued his abused and emaciated dog, who was weighing only 60lbs and had his teeth knocked out. When confronted by police about the pet’s horrific living conditions, Mr Temple allegedly responded, ‘the dog is not a human.’