In an attempt to fight off a bill that threatens its cityhood, Vernon officials have approved a package of reforms that include pay cuts for council members, salary caps, and term limits. Overall, salaries are slated to be cut by salaries by $43,000. City Administrator Mark Whitworth commented that the changes are “a very positive step” for the city and that “Sacramento’s voice has been heard.” As a refresher, Assembly Speaker John Perez introduced AB 46, which would lead to the disincorporation of the small city in Los Angeles County. The bill has already passed the Assembly. The city has committed to extensive lobbying efforts and a coalition of business and labor leaders have contributed toward the fight against the bill. The Los Angeles Times reports:
“Juliet Goff, a local business owner who spoke at the hearing, said the changes would ‘signal to all who are watching that Vernon is ready, willing and able to reform from within.’ Goff said the most important change was the city housing commission, which will help Vernon to devise a new housing policy. The city owns nearly all of the residential property within its borders, essentially making the councilmen landlords over all voters. Critics -- including Speaker Perez -- say the arrangement leaves those residents beholden to city leaders. Under the new reform plan, a seven-member housing commission will take over management of the homes.”
Trips to Sacramento are being planned by business leaders from Vernon who want to emphasize the reforms the city has made. However, Speaker Perez has already been dismissive of the changes, stating that they are “just another example of Vernon saying or doing anything to protect their corrupt status quo.” Criticism has also been voiced that the reforms won’t apply to council members until after they finish their five-year terms.