Vernon disincorporation would cost jobs, report commissioned by city says
A report by fiscal experts hired by the city of Vernon argues that dismantling the small industrial town could cost thousands of jobs and result in millions in lost dollars for the local and state economy.
The analysis, released Thursday by Sacramento-based Capitol Matrix Consulting, said that Assembly Speaker John Pérez’s bill to disincorporate the city of roughly 90 residents would hurt businesses in Vernon and deter others from moving there.
The report stated that if Vernon were eliminated, Southern California could lose more than 11,000 jobs, $42 million in revenue and $420 million in wages a year. Capitol Matrix Consulting also argued that any municipal government taking over Vernon would see its costs ramp up and assume a potentially crushing debt.
Vernon has been arguing that disincorporation would be bad for local business. But backers of Vernon have disagreed, saying they would expect little change in the business climate.
[Updated at 4:40 p.m.: Shannon Murphy, Perez’ deputy chief of staff, called the report “a flawed study that relies on inaccurate assumptions about what will happen when Vernon is disincorporated.”
“Vernon’s officials are spending an unconscionable amount of taxpayer money to preserve their status quo,” she added. “And when they’re spending more than $500,000 per month of taxpayer funds to fight disincorporation, any study they produce has to be viewed with deep skepticism.”]
In recent years, Vernon’s history has been punctuated by criminal charges filed against three top officials, including a mayor convicted of voter fraud for lying about living in Vernon for 30 years.
Critics argue that Vernon’s leaders run the city like a secretive, corrupt “fiefdom,” lavishing officials with some of the highest salaries in the nation, including more than $1 million in successive years for a city attorney turned legal consultant. Pérez said Vernon cannot be reformed from the inside because almost of all its residents are connected to city leaders.
He argued that Vernon officials have unleashed an expensive blitz of lobbyists, lawyers and an advertising campaign to scare people into thinking that disincorporating the city will result in lost jobs.
“I am very, very optimistic about what will happen to business in Vernon,” Pérez said Tuesday. “But it is never acceptable to say that the cost of business surviving is to allow corruption to take hold the way it has in the city of Vernon.”
Vernon officials say that any corruption is a thing of the past, touting their hiring of independent ethics advisors to review the way Vernon City Hall operates and to suggest any potential changes.
-- Hector Becerra
Photo: State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez acknowledges his supporters following his comments at City Hall on Tuesday. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times