City of Vernon grills up opposition to disincorporation effort

"Save Vernon Jobs" coalition organizers say about 1,000 people attended a barbecue lunch and rally on Thursday to oppose a state assembly bill to dissolve the city.
Corey Moore/KPCC

The city of Vernon threw a free barbecue today for hundreds of people to rally defenders of its cityhood. Between bites, utility worker Rob Franz with Petrelli Electric, discussed his concerns about a measure to make the city of Vernon history.

“As a contractor for the city, we provide a real quick service, a real time saving service, something that you can’t get from other large cities," he said. "And the fact that there’s a couple of corrupt officials doesn’t mean that you get rid of the entire city.”

The “Save Vernon Jobs” coalition held the event to campaign against the legislation being proposed California State Assembly speaker John Perez. The Democrat wants to dissolve the city in response to past incidents of corruption and voter fraud. But not all his party members support the effort.

One of them is Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino. He pointed to a recent ethics review by former Attorney General John Van de Kamp as proof that Vernon is making real reforms.

“There’s no greater champion of these issues than Mr. Van de Kamp and his reputation is above reproach, so I’m leaning towards seeing his efforts go to fruition, and not jeopardize the amount of jobs that might be jeopardized if this legislation goes through," said Portantino.

Vernon hired Van de Kamp to conduct the review. The city has reduced salaries for top officials and made changes to housing policies, which critics claim have created more of a fiefdom than a democratically-run city. The report also said Vernon has more work to do.