For the last eight months, Speaker John Pérez has been trying to shut down the city of Vernon and turn it over lock, stock and barrel to the county of L.A.
You'd think he might check with the county first to see if they want it.
Vernon has a storied history of corruption. Faced with the threat of elimination, the city has made efforts to reform itself, though it's not at all clear the city has gone far enough.
The Times reported on Sunday that under the leadership of consultant Eric Fresch, Vernon has piled up half a billion dollars in debt and lost millions on a natural gas hedging contract. It remains a mystery why Vernon's leadership is so wedded to this guy. Fresch routinely makes more than $1 million a year for his unique “expertise” on energy contracts, and yet he gets his information from books like “Trading Natural Gas: A Nontechnical Guide.”
But that, at least for the moment, is Vernon's problem. The question for the Board of Supervisors is whether it should become the county's problem, too.
At today's meeting, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wondered whether Vernon is financially “booby trapped.” He also complained that it was a little late in the process for that question to still be unanswered.
If it were up to Supervisor Gloria Molina — who has been fighting Vernon for decades — the county would probably stomach those concerns and endorse Pérez's efforts. But rest of the board seems to be having second thoughts.
It's been clear for a while that Pérez is just making this up as he goes. His initial bill, AB 46, simply wiped Vernon off the map. It did not address how to deal with Vernon's municipal utility or, for that matter, its employees, businesses, or residents. After taking some heat for that, Perez changed course in June, offering to create a “community services district” that would be run by the county.
But if the county doesn't want to shoulder that responsibility, where does that leave this? Maybe the City of L.A. — which is run by Pérez's cousin — could make a generous offer to take over?