Vernon Mayor Hilario Gonzales may have resigned Monday because he got tired of defending the city from corruption charges. But he also had “economic reasons” for leaving City Hall, according to John Van de Kamp, the city's ethics adviser.

The Vernon council members recently cut their own salaries from $68,000 to $56,000. They also voted to take an even deeper cut — to $25,000 — at the end of their current terms.

Gonzales has been accumulating pension benefits for 37 years. So he appears to stand to make more money by retiring than he would by staying on the City Council.

Gonzales is still waiting to confirm his retirement benefits with CalPERS, and it's not clear precisely how much he will get.

His resignation was formally announced this morning at the Vernon City Council meeting. Gonzales and Councilman Daniel Newmire were both absent.

The remaining three council members voted unanimously to rescind the appointment of Michael Montgomery as city attorney. That move was mostly for show, as Montgomery had beat them to the punch by resigning on Monday. (He will continue as an attorney for the redevelopment agency and the power utility.)

The council also voted to hire a search firm to find a new city attorney. In so doing, they were following the advice of Van de Kamp, who raised concerns with the council's decision to hire Montgomery two weeks ago without doing a full search and without noticing the matter on the city's agenda.

Voters are set to go to the polls next week and on Nov. 22 to enact a series of charter reforms. Among them is a provision to abolish the power of council members to fill council vacancies by appointment. That means, in all likelihood, that Gonzales' seat will be filled at the next regular election in April.

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