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Russo Headed to Court in Riverside in November While Seeking to Enrich Himself at Tonight’s Irvine City Council

John Russo, Irvien City Manager. Photo credit: OC Register

Irvine City Manager John Russo is worth every penny of his contract — just ask him and he’ll tell you.  He’s not but never misses a chance to enrich himself or his Riverside team at the expense of Irvine taxpayers.

Tonight (Tuesday September 10), Russo goes before the Irvine City Council seeking about $24,000 in extra compensation for his work as executive director of the Great Park.  This is about an 8% raise the city manager wants to give himself after a little more than a year of work in Irvine with a base salary of $303K plus benefits.  And after an attempt to enrich his assistant city manager with a $50,000+ raise which was knocked down to 9% after we reported about it.

The argument is Russo has cut management positions in his department and the people he’s hired are doing two jobs therefore are entitled to extra compensation.  That argument falls apart because productivity would also decline by as much as 100% because even the most productive of managers might be able to handle an extra 10% workload.

All this, while rank and file city workers get squat.  I believe city workers get a 1% raise in a couple of years.  Sort of insulting given the tenure of some excellent staffers at city hall who have significant institutional knowledge of the city.  It fits Russo’s profile of rewarding those loyal to him and has created an unhealthy work environment in Irvine City Hall.

But the Irvine City Council should heed and question Russo about his upcoming court case over his contract as Riverside City Manager and how he managed to hide certain aspects of that contract from the public — and in some cases, the city council he worked for.  And they should ask him about his pending trial in Riverside for charges of Unlawful Gift of Public Funds and Violation of the City Charter, California Municipal Code and the State of California Constitution.  The trial will be held November 22 in Riverside Superior Court.

The nut of the trial are claims from the City of Riverside that Russo started re-negotiating his contract after he served only half of it and added the contract changes on a meeting agenda at an odd time to throw off the public.  There’s a suggestion that the Irvine City Council members who were seated when Russo was hired may be aware of this, but it’s important to note that three members of the council took office after Russo’s appointment.  The lawsuit document is here.

Couple of juicy details in here include #13-19 and #30-32.  Hard to copy a PDF, so please review the file.

While in Riverside, Russo was able to get a 1% mortgage funded by the city for $675,000; I have to wonder if he took any equity out of the house after it was granted.  There are still tips from City employees that Russo leaves early and has use of a city car during the day in spite of having a car allowance.




    • former City of Irvine employee former City of Irvine employee September 13, 2019

      It is very unfortunate that he takes a slash and burn approach to the hard-working rank and file, all the while keeping around managers and directors that bully and mistreat staff. People put up with it because they don’t want to lose their “safe” government jobs and are fearful of retribution if they speak out, and the City Council just shrugs. As long as the streets are clean and safe, residents couldn’t care less about what’s actually going on behind closed doors at City Hall so a grifter like Mr. Russo can safely continue to line his pockets at taxpayer expense. If City Councilmembers won’t stop him, who will??? I’m sure he and his new cronies at Irvine are laughing all the way to the bank.

  1. Jason Hunter Jason Hunter September 10, 2019

    As a resident of Riverside, I can tell you firsthand that Russo’s legacy here – in just his short 3-year term – is that of carnage. Our fiscal picture and associated future is so bleak that EVERY single elected official up for re-election has chosen to give up their seats (5 of 8), which is unprecedented here, rather than face the embarrassment of further voter outrage.

    “Good Russo” spends his first year as CEO gaining your confidence by implementing tried and true goodwill projects like the Sunshine Ordinance, 2-Year budgeting, and identifying hidden budget shortfalls. In return, he consolidates his power. “Bad Russo” then begins the divide-and-conquer campaign with the electeds, strong-arming the business community, while quietly enriching himself and his cronies at the public’s expense…well that didn’t take long Irvine!

    Russo continues his quest to find a community dumb enough to give him the power of an elected without having any responsibility to the public, with the money/benefits of a bureaucrat without having any oversight.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | September 10, 2019

      Did Russo get success fees for helping friends get govt contracts?

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