It would be tough to argue that anyone has been as dogmatic and full of scrutiny as the LA Times in the past two years when it comes to covering local government scandals. The paper has been relentless in its coverage of compensation, Bell, Vernon, and Montebello, to name a few prominent examples. This year the involuntary disincorporation of the city of Vernon undoubtedly grabbed plenty of attention, and while the effort was strongly beaten back, receiving far less attention was a ransom payment of sorts from the city of Vernon. Officials in Vernon agreed to pay $60 million to fund community projects in neighboring cities as part of a deal in order to avoid disincorporation. The large sum of money has the city’s substantial business interests worried, as there are concerns about the sum of money Vernon has to dish out.
While Vernon agreed to the payment, is it fair for one city to pay so much to benefit the conditions of nearby cities? In an editorial, the LA Times argues no. State Sen. Kevin De Leon has posited the $60 million will mitigate years of pollution, traffic and other problems caused by Vernon's factories; however, the Times argues the following in an excerpt from its editorial:
“Though Vernon does welcome dirty industries, those businesses must abide by the same state and federal environmental measures as any other companies in California; if they fail to do so, neighboring cities have every right to call in the environmental cops. Similarly, if Vernon creates an illegal public nuisance in its region of southeastern Los Angeles County, other cities can seek redress in the courts.
Vernon is an easy city to dislike, incorporated from the start to draw industry and enrich the local landowners. But if it doesn't break the law, it doesn't owe its neighbors money and shouldn't have been singled out for disincorporation by legislative leaders.
Right now, Vernon's debts might make the $60-million difficult to pay. That's Vernon's problem; it agreed to the deal and must fulfill the terms. But as reviled as Vernon is, other California cities should be contemplating this situation with concern. If Vernon can be pushed into an expensive deal because it has money and tends to rile people, which city might be next?”