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Calif. state senator trying to save Vernon

August 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A California state senator is offering alternatives in an attempt to save Vernon from being dissolved as a city.

Sen. Kevin de Leon, who represents Vernon, is asking leaders to adopt aggressive reforms that would allow the city to remain and its businesses to continue operating.

One of the top priorities of Assembly Speaker John Perez is an anti-corruption bill, which seeks to eliminate Vernon and incorporate it into L.A. County.

The bill, AB46, passed through the Assembly but is meeting resistance in the Senate.

The industrial city has fewer than 100 residents and more than 1,800 businesses.

Perez claims Vernon is corrupt just like the nearby city of Bell, where eight former officials face criminal charges involving the mishandling of millions of dollars in city funds.

Three former top Vernon officials have been convicted of public corruption.

De Leon initially co-authored Perez's bill, but in his letter to City Administrator Mark Whitworth, he said he is worried about more than 55,000 jobs that could be lost if the city is dissolved and businesses flee the area.

Among the changes de Leon cites as necessary are adopting a new charter that would establish uniform term limits for council members; set salary and benefit limits for city officials; and establish an open and competitive bidding process for city contracts.

He also wants the city to set up an independent housing commission and build 50 new housing units to double the electorate, and to establish an environmental fund that would "help mitigate the decades of noxious air released from Vernon."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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