Monday, March 21, 2011

Anarchy in the UKCA? Not Quite

We've been closely following recent developments down in Bell, but it's important to remember that the 2010 taxpayer revolt against corrupt LA County governments (referred to by one blogger as la fiesta de té) has involved numerous nearby cities as well. One of the more interesting is the even-tinier town of Vernon. Like Bell, Vernon spent 2010 in the news due to scandals about city officials' excessive salaries. What's especially interesting about this, however, is what many LA politicos propose doing about it: dissolving Vernon as a municipality.

If that were the whole story, we'd be inclined to think, "Damn! You can just dissolve a government for being hopelessly corrupt? We can think of some places we'd start with before Vernon!" But sadly, that is not the whole story. Vernon, you see, is a unique place. It has a population of about 100, most of whom are city employees. Yet unlike many other cities in southern LA County, Vernon is not at all poor. It is home to a large number of manufacturing concerns and city-owned utilities, and generates an immense amount of revenue through them. Hence the interest from Los Angeles.

In the face of opposition from Vernon business owners and union representatives, the LA City Council recently backed off from a plan to annex the city outright. Now, however, the same politicians are throwing their weight behind AB 46, a proposal from Assembly speaker John Perez which dissolve all cities with fewer than 150 residents. How many California cities meet that criterion, you might ask? Just one. If enacted, the bill would turn Vernon into an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County. As Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee notes, Perez is the cousin and political ally of Antonio Villaraigosa. We're sure this is just a coincidence.

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