Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LA Times: The Solution to Corrupt Vernon Politics is . . . Corrupt LA County Politics

The LA Times has a story today describing the lavish lifestyles and questionable ethics of City Councilmembers in the small LA County city of Vernon. Is this a case of our faithful news media speaking truth to power and exposing the corruption of those in high places? Well, no. As we've been discussing for weeks, Los Angeles elites have a different interest in government corruption in Vernon: they want to forcibly disincorporate the city so the county can get at its tax revenues.

The face of evil.

We're not going to sit here offering a spirited defense of the Vernon City Council. The article makes clear that they've been enjoying good salaries, enormous health care benefits, travel junkets paid for by taxpayers, below-market rents on homes and apartments in the city, and virtually no accountability for their actions. In other words, we wouldn't shed a tear if they found themselves unemployed. But it is worth noting that the City Council provides something that's rarer than the condor in California these days: a business-friendly municipality. In spite of the corrupt government, Vernon has quietly become one of the wealthiest cities in LA County, largely by offering lower taxes, low rates for water and power, quick response times from local police and fire services, and low insurance premiums. And the business community in Vernon is very pessimistic about its viability if it has to operate in an unincorporated part of the county. Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee reported on mounting business and labor opposition to the disincorporation bill. Here's hoping they're successful. Otherwise, it looks likely that Vernon will become more like the rest of LA County: higher taxes, mediocre public services, and businesses going under or going elsewhere.


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