Assembly Speaker John Pérez lost his bid to eliminate the City of Vernon today, as the state Senate rejected his proposal on a vote of 13-17.
It's a high-profile defeat for Pérez, who was once so confident of victory that he refused to even debate the issue with Vernon officials. “I have the votes,” he told them. “I have the support. It's gonna happen.”
But Vernon fought back, rallying unions and business interests and spending $1.6 million on Sacramento lobbyists.
Their central argument was that eliminating the city would kill
thousands of jobs. Pérez was never able to deliver a satisfactory
Vernon (pop: 112) has seen more than its share of corruption in recent years. Pérez contended that the only way to clean up the city was to shut it down.
The threat drove Vernon to adopt a host of reforms, including an aggressive proposal made last week by Sen. Kevin De Leon. De Leon's plan calls for the construction of enough housing to double the city's population, the establishment of a “Good Neighbor” fund to pay for recreation programs in adjacent communities, and salary limits enshrined in the city charter.
In a statement, Pérez lashed out at De Leon and Sen. Ron
Calderon, saying they “have given Vernon a free pass to continue doing
business as usual, and those senators will own the responsibility for
any misdeeds that may occur in the future.”
The Vernon Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, praised the senators “who took the brave stand against the Speaker and his tyrannical methods.”
Add: Statement from Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth: “We are humbled by the result of today's vote in the California State Senate and we are fully committed to the historic tasks ahead of us.”
Add 2: The person who comes out of this looking the best is De Leon. Here's his statement, in full:
“Today's vote in the Senate on AB 46 was one step in a process. While I am exceptionally happy that tens of thousands of jobs were spared the ax, the saga of Vernon will not be complete until the City follows through on its commitment to implement the aggressive reforms I proposed. I am seeking permanent and lasting reform in that City, and justice for its long-suffering, neighboring communities. It is now up to Vernon and all eyes are watching.”