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Catching up with Robert Rizzo

Times staff photographer Don Bartletti was given an assignment to photograph former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo after Times columnist Steve Lopez received a tip that Rizzo was working as a parking lot attendant in Huntington Beach. Bartletti recounts the experience:

“I approached the lot where Steve Lopez said Rizzo was hunkered down beneath a brim hat and behind dark glasses.  From across the street at an auto repair place where I parked, I first saw Rizzo bundled up in a puffy blue jacket and seated in front of a wall-size mural of half-naked people riding the waves.  It was immediately surreal.  From the repair shop he was too far away to make good photo, so I crossed the street and in haste made 10 frames with a telephoto lens.  I was prepared for him to bolt from the scene or hide his face. He didn’t budge or move a muscle, so I walked right up to him and I unshouldered a camera with a wide-angle lens.  As I focused and composed, I said to him, ‘I don’t mean to bother you and I’ll only be a second.’ He remained stoic and as still as the figures in the surf mural.  When I knew I had recorded the scene, I lowered the camera and looked at him with pursed lips — a smiling frown like people do in an attempt to lower the tension. It felt odd to see him there looking so vulnerable.  I know his story of alleged corruption, so I felt justified in photographing him as a representative of the citizens who rely on this newspaper as their watchdog. I was close enough to see my reflection in his sunglasses when he nodded in response to my half hearted smile.  I turned and walked away.”

Read Lopez’s column at “Robert Rizzo is serving time behind cars.”

Photo: Now working as a Huntington Beach parking lot attendant, former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo waits for customers at the International Surfing Museum.

Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

1 Comment

  1. January 13, 2011, 11:08 am

    White Collar Crimes. The guy still has his freedom after hurting a whole city? Where is the Justice in all of this? I guess it's ok to steal as long as your a politician.


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