Speaker Perez wants Vernon's cityhood stripped

VERNON, Calif. Right next to Vernon Avenue, you'll come across one of the only neighborhoods in all of Vernon: Ten homes clustered along furlong place.

Monday, state Assembly Speaker John Perez introduced legislation that would disallow any city with fewer than 150 residents. And Vernon is the only city in the state that fits that description.

Perez says that Vernon city officials lack transparency and accountability. He says the city, which boasts 1,800 businesses, is controlled by a small group of powerful people.

The city has endured its share of scandals. Last year, Vernon's then-mayor Leonis Malburg was convicted of voter fraud. The city's former city administrator awaits trial on charges of misappropriation. And there's long been criticism of the salaries paid to certain city officials.

No one from the city would go on camera to react to the proposed bill. But city administrator Mark Whitworth has released a statement saying the bill would cost the city thousands of jobs.

"This bill sets a dangerous precedent. If the state can deny rights to cities with 150 residents, any city could be legislated out of existence. We believe any such action proposed by Mr. Perez violates the state constitution and the rights granted charter cities," wrote Whitworth.

But Perez says it's time for the state to take drastic measures.

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