Desperately Seeking Leader: Scarred Bell Casts Wide Net for New City Manager

The city tries something new in seach of a permanent city manager

The March 5 application deadline is looming for one particularly critical job for a functioning democracy.

You could be the next city manager of a tiny scandal-plagued city in a working class suburb of Los Angeles.

The city of Bell is looking for a permanent city manager, and a revival, after a massive city scandal rocked the tiny city in 2010.

The city's first efforts to attract applicants resulted in zero candidates. So it has embarked on a national search to replace its city manager.

"We have over 35 applicants," said Bobbi Peckham, a partner at Peckham & McKenney, hired to conduct the search. "I will continue to recruit throughout that date."

Peckham & McKenney created a slick digital brochure to promote the 35,477 population city nestled on the west bank of the LA River.

"We created a brochure that markets the opportunity to potential candidates," Peckham said.

The brochure touches on different aspects of the city, from its history to its demographics.

The city was the center of a massive corruption scandal in 2010 when then City Manager Robert Rizzo and other city officials were charged with misappropriating city funds after The Los Angeles Times exposed their six-and-seven figure salaries.

Grabbing candidates' attention is what the city set out to do.

The city hasn't had a permanent city manager since Rizzo was fired in 2010.

Last year, an entirely new city council was elected, after the accused former councilmembers were recalled.

Since then, the council, which appoints the city manager, has struggled to find a permanent replacement. Its first two hires did not last long on the job.

That's when the council hired former San Mateo City Manager Arne Croce, 60, last August on an interim basis, but he cannot be employed permanently due to restrictions set by the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

So, what are some of the perks?

The brochure wasn't specific about salary, stating it would be open and competitive, but does mention "attractive benefits" for the new city manager.

Interviews with Peckham will begin March 14 and the council is scheduled to choose a new city manager by early April.

Bell officials did not return calls.

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