Glendale's worries about former Police Chief Randy Adams' extraordinary pension may be solved by a case California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed Wednesday against Adams and two other former officials of the city of Bell.
Adams more than doubled his salary, from $215,000 a year to $471,000 a year, when he left Glendale for Bell in 2009. As a result, his annual pension would be about $400,000 and the pension obligations of the cities where he formerly worked — Glendale, Simi Valley and Ventura — jumped precipitously.
Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird estimated that if allowed to stand, Adams' pension benefit based on his year on the job in Bell would cost Glendale taxpayers an additional $40,000 a year for as long as the benefits are paid out.
On Wednesday, Brown made clear that he does not want those benefits to stand. In a case against former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, former Assistant City Manager Victoria Spaccia and Adams, the attorney general's office accuses the trio of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
The lawsuit asks for their salaries to be returned and their contracts with Bell to be voided. It also asks that their year in Bell not be considered in the California Public Employees' Retirement System formula for determining their retirement benefits.
Should the case prevail, Glendale and the other cities would be off the hook for the extra cash.
"Anything that corrects the efforts by the Bell officials to manipulate the PERS system to their advantage and to enrich themselves at the expense of the community is welcome," Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird said in an e-mail.
He also said there is more in play than Glendale taxpayer dollars.
"It is more important that the greater issue of the ethical, professional and moral corruption by the officials of Bell be addressed," Starbird said.
Rick Cole, city manager in Ventura, applauded the lawsuit. "A judge at the end of the day will have to weigh the facts," Cole said. "But I would find it surprising indeed if these outrageous salaries were allowed to stand and form a basis for lifetime pensions."
Fiorina used the dealership's rooftop — which comes with a view of the empty lot where the stimulus-subsidized but failed New Horizons Family Center was to be built — as a stage for attacking Sen. Barbara Boxer and Democratic Party economic recovery efforts as wasteful.
Fiorina said the stimulus has failed, and that greater tax cuts, coupled with reduced government spending, are the formula for climbing out of the doldrums.
Harlan Gittin, co-owner of Toyota, said Fiorina's campaign asked to rent the site about a week earlier.
"We're apolitical," Gittin said. "We would do the same for anyone who asked. We want to help the process, whoever it is."
Fiorina's event was tightly scripted. Accompanied by aides as she came off the elevator, she marched between rows of gleaming new Toyota Highlanders to a podium that, the camera lenses would show, stood directly above the New Horizons lot.
Fiorina spoke for about five minutes and answered about five questions before an aide called out "last question."
As she headed for the elevator, two or three cameramen backpedaled in front of her to catch images of her walking along. She light-heartedly expressed concern for their safety.
"It makes me nervous watching you guys walking along backwards," she said.