Claremont Insider: City Attorney Firm Subpoenaed in Bell Investigation - UPDATED

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

City Attorney Firm Subpoenaed in Bell Investigation - UPDATED

The LA Times reports that the two parallel investigations into the Bell scandal, one by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley's office and one by state attorney general Jerry Brown, have proceeded with brisk election-year dispatch, an efficiency that will no doubt fade quickly after the first Tuesday in November.

The Times said that an LA grand jury has issued subpoena's in the DA's investigation. The Times also indicated that Brown's office served subpoenas to obtain records and depositions from nine former Bell officials.

The Times article also said that the AG's office served subpoenas on Best, Best & Krieger, the law firm Bell employed for its city attorney services:

The attorney general also said Monday that his probe was expanding to include the city's former law firm, Best, Best and Krieger, which also received subpoenas. The city last week ended its contract with the lawyers. Shortly thereafter, a longtime city attorney, Edward Lee, who worked for Best, Best and Krieger, announced that he was leaving the firm. A spokeswoman for Best, Best and Krieger said the firm had received the subpoena and is "assisting in any way we can."

BB&K contracts with many municipalities to provide city attorneys. Claremont's city attorney, Sonia Carvalho, is a partner at BB&K.


The city of Maywood, which outsourced nearly all of its services earlier year, was also in the LA Times today. An article in the paper's LA Extra section described how the turmoil in Bell has spilled over into Maywood:
In late June, Maywood fired most of its workers and turned over operations to its neighbor city. But the scandal over eye-popping salaries in Bell has become a "distraction," and Maywood leaders said they would look for someone else to run their affairs.

"We're caught in a situation where we need to move forward," said Maywood Councilman Felipe Aguirre. "We don't want to be distracted by things that are not germane to our city."

Aguirre said doesn't want Maywood to "become a laughing stock of a city," a term used to describe Bell by one of its own embarrassed council members.

When it began to look outside the city for its services, Maywood hired Angela Spaccia, who was at the time the assistant city manager in Bell, as its interim city manager. Spaccia's Maywood contract paid her $10,000 a month. Spaccia was also earning $376,288 at her regular job in Bell and received benefits that drove her total compensation up to $845,960. Bell let Spaccia go when it fired its former city manager Robert Rizzo when Times broke the news of Rizzo's exorbitant compensation package.

Maywood's three-month contract with Spaccia ends on Thursday. During her short time in Maywood, Spaccia oversaw the dismantling and outsourcing of the city's various departments, and under her Maywood signed a $50,833 a month contract with Bell to run Maywood's basic operations.

Maywood also retained BB&K's Edward Lee for its city attorney, and Lee resigned from Maywood on August 2.

The photo that accompanied today's Times' Maywood article showed angry residents at last night's Maywood city council meeting. The protesters were upset over Maywood's alliance with Bell, and the photo showed one person waving a sign that said, "BBK and Spaccia Brought Bell to Maywood."