Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BREAKING: Key Backer of Vernon Disincorporation Changes His Mind

This is interesting. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Democratic state Senator representing southeastern Los Angeles County, Kevin de Leon, has changed his mind about AB 46, Assembly Speaker John Perez's bill to forcibly dissolve the city of Vernon. De Leon had originally co-authored the legislation, but today announced that he thinks the city should saved, provided a set of tough reforms are put in place.

In a letter to Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth, de Leon said he was concerned that thousands of LA County jobs would be lost if the scandal-plagued city is disincorporated, as dozens of businesses have threatened to close up shop if AB 46 is passed. He also noted doubts from a number of county officials regarding their ability to oversee the troubled town. Instead, he'd rather see the city adopt a number of reforms, including uniform city council term limits, limits on salaries and benefits, setting up an open process for bidding on city contracts, establishing an independent commission to oversee public housing, and starting an "environmental fund" to mitigate Vernon's air pollution. Though Perez remains determined to push the disincorporation through, opposition from business and labor groups was creating a rough road for AB 46 even before the recent revelations of the city's massive public debts. Since the LA Times opened Vernon's books, the County Board of Supervisors and now de Leon have started to wonder whether taking on its debts and crippling its economy are a good idea. So, we're not sure where this leaves Perez. But, certainly, the prospects of keeping those 50,000-odd jobs in Los Angeles County just got a bit brighter.

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