What's the real cost of the scandalously high salaries for administrators in the city of Bell? It may run far beyond the millions in pay and pensions.
Bell's leaders may have set back the cause of restoring more local control over finances. While the particulars of each proposal are different, several good government groups are arguing for allowing local government to keep more control over tax revenues. But it's hard to make the case for trusting municipalities after the abuse of power in Bell.
That's too bad, because devolving power to the local makes sense. Over the past 30 years, more and more power over public finances has been concentrated in a few elected leaders in Sacramento. This centralization has been a mostly unintended consequence of ballot initiatives designed to limit local taxation. (With local governments limited in how they tax, they were forced to look to the state for revenues).
What's so bad about centralization? You're living through the bad. When state leaders can't balance budgets, their failure, in a centralized system, hurts everybody.