Saturday, September 25, 2010

How The L.A. Times Broke The Bell Corruption Story : NPR

How The L.A. Times Broke The Bell Corruption Story : NPR

Tripping Over The Story
Few of these developments would have happened without the aggressive and unrelenting work of Vives, who worked his way up from copy boy, and his colleague Jeff Gottlieb, 56, an experienced reporter and editor.

They make a classic pair -– part Woodward and Bernstein, part Mutt and Jeff. But the scandal almost escaped their attention.

Vives tripped over the story in June -- the neighboring city of Maywood was so strapped for cash it wanted Bell to take over city services, like policing. But his colleague Gottlieb learned of an investigation into pay for Bell's city council members. Their attention swung to Bell and they demanded public documents.

"Literally every day, I'm calling the city clerk," Gottlieb said. "I'm telling her, 'Listen, are we getting the documents? I really don't want to sue you, but we will, and when we go to court, and we win, because we will, we'll ask the judge to make you pay our legal bills, because that's what the [public records] statute says.'"

The city manager, Robert Rizzo, finally relented, but they had to meet him at a conference room near a city park for kids. That was weird enough -- but nine city officials and lawyers showed up.
"Pretty quickly, I ask Bob Rizzo, 'How much money do you make?'" Gottlieb said. "He coughed out, '$700,000.'" I wasn’t sure I was hearing him correctly."

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