Following the arrest of Bell’s ex-city manager, Robert Rizzo (along with seven other former and current Bell officials), a spotlight has been cast on the role and salaries of the city manager position. The San Francisco Chronicle, for instance, ran a piece yesterday — accompanied by this handy chart — on a state assembly committee survey of city manager salaries throughout California. The Chronicle looked at 23 Bay Area city manager salaries and found compensation ranging from $195,987 in the small East Bay town of Piedmont to $354,559 in the city of San Ramon. (Not to mention the package given to Palo Alto’s city manager James Keene, who earns $229,780 base pay but also received, according to the Los Angeles times, “$1.5 million to buy a house…co-owned by the city plus a $500,000 home loan.”

To tell you the truth, I have always lived in big cities with statutorily strong mayors, so I’m not too familiar with the city manager position. What, exactly, do they do? And why do they make more than the President of the United States?

Yesterday, KPCC Southern California ran a report called “What is a Fair Price for a City Manager?” (KQED’s California Money will also take a look at the issue, tonight.)

Oh, btw, while Jerry Brown has “been all over the Bell scandal,” as LA Weekly puts it today, Meg Whitman’s trying to turn that around on him.

Related links:

The City Manager Kerfuffle 29 September,2010Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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