Following pay scandals, California controller says all cities and counties must disclose salaries 

The California state controller is ordering all cities and counties to disclose their salary information, following two corruption investigations into exorbitant municipal salaries in Bell, California:

Controller John Chiang said Tuesday he will post the information on his website beginning in November.

The directive comes after revelations that the Southern California city of Bell paid three of its top administrators a total of $1.6 million a year. Part-time City Council members were paid nearly $100,000 a year.

Currently, local governments must report only general figures about revenue and expenditures to the state controller’s office.

Chiang says more detailed reporting will ensure that excessive pay does not escape public scrutiny and accountability.

The California controller’s decision also comes on the heels of city officials in Bell refusing to turn over salary information to the Los Angeles Times and a member of the town’s city council.

Interestingly, obscene small-town salaries in California were a problem years before it was recently revealed that Bell’s city manager was making almost $800,000 a year. Bruce Malkenhorst was reportedly getting paid in excess of $600,000 a year as the former city manager of Vernon, California, population 92. Malkenhorst is now getting a taxpayer-funded pension of $509,664.60.

It’s a good bet that there are other towns in California with salaries like Bell and Vernon. The release of this data could be interesting.

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Mark Hemingway

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