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Vernon Dissolution Plan Hits Opposition From Business And Labor

Hannah Madans |
April 26, 2011 | 4:48 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (Courtesy Cretive Commons)
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (Courtesy Cretive Commons)

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce announced  Tuesday its opposition to Assembly Bill 46, which would dissolve the city of Vernon.

The Los Angles County Federation of Labor previously announced its opposition unless the bill was amended to preserve jobs in Vernon. AB 46 is sponsored by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and is co-authored by roughly 100 of California’s 120 legislators, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Pérez claims that Vernon is corrupt and the city’s leaders have created a ruling class in the city.

Last year former city manager Donal O’Callaghan was indicted over conflict of interest charges and probed by the attorney general’s office. Issues of the probe included large pay for city leaders.

While Vernon is only home to 96 people, it contains 1,800 businesses and roughly 55,000 jobs.

"There is great anxiety about the long-term viability of (businesses) if Vernon if disincorporated and becomes a part of unincorporated Los Angeles County or is annexed by an adjacent city," the Chamber of Commerce wrote to Pérez.

The L.A. Chamber also asked that changes proposed by Vernon businesses be give a chance to improve the city’s government before considering disincorporation.

Earlier this month AB 46 unanimously cleared an Assembly committee.

Pérez urged the legislators to dissolve Vernon’s government whose “corruption is the worst we’ve seen in the state,” reported the Los Angeles Times. Pérez also said that the group had the moral obligation to clean up Vernon and dissolving the city would do so.

 “Today’s unanimous vote is a strong statement against more than 60 years of corruption that represents a threat to jobs throughout Los Angeles County,” Pérez, who introduced the bill in December, told the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus. “AB 46 not only remedies the corruption that currently exists, but permanently eliminates the structural mechanisms that have allowed this corruption to flourish unchecked for more than half a century.”

One of the problems with Vernon cited by the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus is that almost all of Vernon’s residents live in subsidized housing, owned by the city and are also employed by city officials. This has made the city the landlord and supervisor for Vernon residents, which gives the officials large economic control over its residents. The Caucus claimed that this led to the officials not being held accountable and using their leverage by harassing reformers who attempt to run for office.

Many gathered in support of the bill including L.A. County Sheriff Lee Bacca. Southeast communities in L.A. County have also largely supported the bill.

“This is fundamentally about ending corruption and protecting jobs. Vernon’s officials have been accountable to no one for too long, and the rap sheet of indictments, allegations and investigations against Vernon officials is staggering. This is a major priority for the people of the Southeast Community, and I am proud to stand with them against corruption and for jobs,” Pérez said to the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus.

Gathered in defense of Vernon, was a coalition of business owners, workers and labor leaders who claimed that the bill would cause a loss of jobs.

"We need to maintain the stability of our economic environment -- this bill is creating havoc," Peter Corselli, manager at U.S. Growers Cold Storage in Vernon told the Los Angeles Times. "The sooner this bill dies, the better."

Pérez and other officials are still supporting the bill which will next be heard by the full Assembly. Then, it would go to the Senate for approval.

To reach Hannah Madans, click here.



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