The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to support a measure by state assembly speaker John Perez that would disincorporate the city of Vernon.
Crowds of people on both sides of the issue spilled out of L.A. City Council chambers. Earl Goldberg, president of Vernon-based Goldberg and Solovy Foods, spoke against Speaker John Perez’ proposal.
"I’d like to know how many people who work in Vernon are here today. Could you please stand?" Goldberg asked to loud applause from the audience.
He said “work” in Vernon, because only about a hundred people live there. Vernon is an industrial town near East Los Angeles, where Goldberg’s family has maintained a business since the 1950s.
The gross receipts taxes are low, and so are electricity rates. That really helps a company like his with a lot of food to refrigerate.
"Sometimes my friends ask me when they come and visit me in Vernon and they say, 'What is that odor I smell in the air?'" said Goldberg. "You know what I tell’em: it’s jobs. That’s what Vernon is all about."
Vernon is home to about 50,000 jobs. Some labor unions, and business owners like Goldberg, worry that if the state disincorporates Vernon, a lot of those jobs will move away.
Assembly speaker John Perez told the Los Angeles City Council that nobody takes the issue of jobs more seriously than he does. He represents the industrial city in Sacramento. He’s introduced a bill to disincorporate Vernon in order to root out what he calls an unequaled level of corruption that allowed the city’s last mayor to serve for 50 years.
"The leaders of the city of Vernon actually literally handpick who the electorate is," Perez said. "They populate the city with friends, family members and employees."
The Los Angeles City Council sided unanimously with Perez, after he agreed to amend his bill to protect Vernon’s jobs and competitive business climate. If Vernon is disincorporated, the city of Los Angeles could annex it, but councilmembers saved that discussion for later.