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OPINION
July 13, 2012
Last year, the business leaders of Vernon rose up to protest state legislation that would have disbanded the scandal-plagued city. They showed little interest in the fact that blatantly illegal and irresponsible acts had been committed, or that municipal elections were a perpetual joke because the city controlled which 100 or so people got to live within its borders. Questioned about the numerous criminal charges against former city administrators, the lack of financial controls and the luxury perks that officials enjoyed, the response of business leaders varied little: Sure, there's corruption, but the city is in the black, our utility rates are low and no one bothers us with burdensome rules.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 26, 2014 | By a Times staff writer
The industrial city of Vernon in southeast Los Angeles County has long been known for its small number of residents and voters - just 42 turned out for a municipal election last year, for example. So on Friday, when city leaders and state and national elected officials announced the groundbreaking of a new apartment complex in the city, it was hailed as a good governance reform that will bring more voters to the city. The 45-unit Vernon Village Park is hailed as an environmentally conscious, energy-efficient facility that, as city officials put it, "will make the concept of a live/work community a reality in Vernon.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 27, 2011
Hilario Gonzales Mayor Joined council: 1974 Background: Worked for 45 years at Sunbeam, an industrial lighting manufacturer. William McCormick Joined council: 1974 Background: Worked at Safeway meat processing plant in Vernon; active in Boy Scouts. Daniel Newmire Joined council: 2009 Background: Retired fire captain William Davis Joined council: 1981 Background: Retired Southern California Edison employee; worked as lineman, service planner Richard Maisano Joined council: 2009 Background: Manager of Manhattan Beach carwash.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 25, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
The industrial city of Vernon in southeast Los Angeles County has long been known for its small number of residents and voters--just 42 turned out for a municipal election last year, for example. So on Friday, when city leaders and state and national elected officials announced the groundbreaking of a new apartment complex in the city, it was hailed as a "good governance reform" that will bring more voters to the city. The 45-unit Vernon Village Park is hailed as an environmentally conscious, energy-efficient facility that, as city officials put it, "will make the concept of a live/work community a reality in Vernon.
OPINION
December 16, 2011
Desperate to avoid being stripped of cityhood, the leaders of Vernon were willing to do just about anything — including paying $60 million to neighboring cities to use for parks and recreational programs. This was part of an agreement hammered out by state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who offered to oppose the bill that would have disincorporated Vernon in exchange for a set of concessions. Most of these were good-government reforms in a city renowned for municipal scandal — the industrial town with 1,800 businesses and only about 110 residents, where city officials controlled who moved into town because Vernon owns all the housing units.
OPINION
June 22, 2011
The leaders of Vernon — both in business and government — have only themselves to blame for the bill that would dissolve the city. For decades Vernon has been mired in financial and electoral shenanigans and, from time to time, downright corruption, so it's no great surprise that legislators are finally taking aim at it. That still doesn't make it right for the state to disincorporate the city, which is what would happen under a bill being considered...
OPINION
December 9, 2009
The families that run the city of Vernon (population: 90-something) were alarmed nearly four years ago when a handful of newcomers moved to town and registered to vote. It was part of a scheme, city leaders claimed, by the political boss of nearby South Gate to misuse the instruments of democracy to take over new territory. And when it comes to misusing the instruments of democracy, those Vernonites know what they're talking about. They're experts. Mayor Leonis Malburg and his family pulled Vernon's strings from the family estate in Hancock Park for years, apparently unfazed by state laws that require elected officials to live in the cities they serve and voters to live in the cities where they vote.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | By Roger Vincent
Serge Azria, founder the popular women's clothing lines Joie, Current/Elliott and Equipment, has purchased a two-building site near downtown Los Angeles that will permit him to grow his operations. Azria bought two buildings for $7.75 million at 5251 Santa Fe Ave., in Vernon, real estate brokerage Colliers International said. The site is across the street from Azria's current headquarters. The larger of the two buildings will house the company's expanded corporate headquarters, a design studio and some warehousing space, said real estate broker Will Smith of Colliers, who represented Azria in the transaction.
OPINION
October 29, 2010
Sometimes, it's the basic questions that most confound us. For example: What exactly is a city? This question matters when it comes to ethically challenged Vernon, a municipality of only about 90 residents, the vast majority of whom live in city-owned housing and for the most part are in some way financially beholden to the city government. Vernon, for those who haven't been following the saga, is the tax-rich industrial town with nearly 2,000 businesses where the former mayor and his wife were convicted of voter fraud last year because they set up an elaborate ruse to hide the fact that they actually lived in Hancock Park; the enclave where newcomers who sought to challenge its power structure were evicted, their voter registration canceled, their power cut off and their cars followed.
OPINION
December 13, 2010
Almost no one likes the antics in the city of Vernon except the Vernonites. The southeast Los Angeles County municipality is run largely for the benefit of its 2,000 businesses and two founding families. City salaries are over the top, the former mayor and his wife were convicted of voter fraud, the former city administrator was criminally charged a couple of months ago, and the investigations are continuing. Residents ? of whom there are only about 90 ? aren't inclined to complain because almost all of them live in rent-subsidized city housing that costs a fraction of market value; many are employed by the city or have other ties to it. The one outsider who tried to move in and challenge the city's leadership was harassed and pushed out. The situation burns officials outside of Vernon, who chafe at salaries for city leaders that top $500,000 (and in one case $1.6 million)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2014 | By Christine Mai-Duc
The beleaguered operator of a Vernon battery-recycling plant announced the temporary layoffs of nearly all of its employees Monday, weeks after air-quality regulators shut down its operations over air pollution concerns. Exide Technologies said in a statement that it had issued notices to 104 hourly employees and 20 managers at the facility that they could be laid off within 60 days. The plant, which has been a source of community outrage since regulators announced last year that its arsenic emissions posed a danger to more than 100,000 people, has been idle since last month.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
A Vernon battery recycler may not resume lead smelting until its furnaces can operate in compliance with tough new air district rules on arsenic emissions. The South Coast Air Quality Management District's hearing board ruled Tuesday that Exide Technologies, which is accused of endangering the health of more than 100,000 people across southeast Los Angeles County, must maintain "negative pressure" in its furnaces. That means particles from the smelting process must be sucked into air pollution control devices that can keep toxic compounds from wafting over neighborhoods.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 28, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
A Vernon battery recycler under fire for contaminating nearby homes with lead and threatening the health of more than 100,000 people with its arsenic emissions is in trouble once again for emitting more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. A notice on the air district website said the agency will order Exide to curtail its operations as a result. On March 22 and 23, an air monitor northeast of the sprawling Exide Technologies plant near the Los Angeles River picked up levels high enough to cause the outdoor air concentration of lead to exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter based on a 30-day average - a violation of air district rules designed to protect public health.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 28, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
A Vernon battery recycler under fire for contaminating nearby homes with lead and threatening the health of more than 100,000 people with its arsenic emissions is in trouble once again for emitting more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. As a result, the agency will order Exide to curtail its operations by 15%. On March 22 and 23, an air monitor on the northeast side of the Exide Technologies plant, near the Los Angeles River, picked up lead levels that were high enough to cause the outdoor air concentration to exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter based on a 30-day average - a violation of rules designed to protect public health.
OPINION
March 23, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
There's no clearer sign that state environmental regulators have failed to protect public health than the warning issued this month to parents living in the shadow of the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon: Don't let children play in the dirt in your backyard. Tests of 39 homes and one preschool within two miles of the plant revealed that all had levels of lead in the soil that should trigger health evaluations. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause children to develop learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | By Roger Vincent
Serge Azria, founder the popular women's clothing lines Joie, Current/Elliott and Equipment, has purchased a two-building site near downtown Los Angeles that will permit him to grow his operations. Azria bought two buildings for $7.75 million at 5251 Santa Fe Ave., in Vernon, real estate brokerage Colliers International said. The site is across the street from Azria's current headquarters. The larger of the two buildings will house the company's expanded corporate headquarters, a design studio and some warehousing space, said real estate broker Will Smith of Colliers, who represented Azria in the transaction.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2013 | By Adolfo Flores and Hector Becerra
Vernon officials will be asking voters Tuesday to approve three taxes that they said are crucial to closing a large budget gap caused by bad investments. Officials are threatening deep cuts to Vernon's police and fire departments if the taxes, expected to net $8 million annually, don't pass. The city currently faces an $8-million General Fund deficit. A shift from years before when the city's 1,800 businesses benefited from low taxes and cheap electricity. But a series of bad investments made through its Light and Power Department, made worse by the recession, has caused the city to boost its electric rates by about 40% in recent years and move to increase taxes.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 10, 2013 | By Christine Mai-Duc
Voters in Vernon overwhelmingly approved three tax measures Tuesday, clearing the path for city leaders to close an estimated $8-million general fund deficit. Officials had threatened deep cuts to the city's police and fire departments if the measures did not pass. “More than anything, this vote is an acknowledgment in the city of Vernon that public safety is important,” said Vernon spokesman Fred MacFarlane, adding that residents have made it clear they don't want to contract out police and fire services.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 20, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
One year after the South Coast Air Quality Management District found that arsenic emissions from a Vernon battery plant posed a cancer risk to more than 100,000 people, the agency has approved Exide Technologies Inc.'s plan to reduce health risks. Exide issued a statement saying it had "worked diligently" with regulators and intends to invest more than $5 million in the facility as a result of the new plan, on top of $15 million the company has already spent or pledged for other environmental and public health-related improvements since 2010.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 19, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
Furious residents confronted state officials at a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss the high levels of lead found in the backyards of homes near a Vernon battery recycling plant. "We've been hearing the same junk over and over and over," said Robert Cabrales, an organizer with the environmental justice group Communities for a Better Environment. "When are we going to see cleanup in our communities?" The meeting came one week after state officials announced that soil testing had revealed elevated levels of lead in the soil at homes and a park north and south of the Exide Technologies plant.
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