City of Vernon Independent Reform Monitor, Measure F (November 2011)
Measure F amended the Vernon City Charter to require the city hire an Independent Reform Monitor for at least four years. The role of the Independent Reform Monitor is to review City of Vernon policies and recommend governance reform measures.
The Independent Reform Monitor has the power to:
- Conduct audits of all City operations and budgets.
- Review any proposed service contract that is substantial in nature.
- Report back annually to the California State Legislature on the progress of Vernon's reform efforts.
- Make recommendations on "any additional reforms that may be necessary."
The City of Vernon hired an "Independent Ethics Advisor" earlier in 2011. That person was charged with reviewing Vernon’s governance procedures and making recommendations to ensure "effective and ongoing ethical governance." The Independent Ethics Advisor’s report was released on July 29, 2011. It recommended the adoption of governance reforms. With the enactment of Measure F, the work of that ethics adviser will be continued by the Independent Reform Monitor.
Measures E, Vernon Housing Commission Requirement, G: Vernon Vacancies Filled by Special Elections, H: Vernon Prohibition on City Council Members Increasing Their Own Compensation, I: Vernon Use of Revenue from the Light and Power Fund and J: Vernon Open and Competitive Bidding Process were on the same ballot. All of them were approved.
The editors of Eastern Group Publications endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure F.
Vernon is five miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Its population was 112 at the 2010 United States Census, making it the smallest of any incorporated city in California.
In 2011, California State Assemblyman John Pérez submitted a bill to the California State Legislature to disincorporate Vernon as a city. This was partly done in response to reports of rampant corruption. The Perez plan would have been the first forced disincorporation of a city since Hornitos (in Maricopa County) was disincorporated in 1973. Assemblyman Pérez argued that Vernon lacks a legitimate electorate and postulated that dissolving the city would be the only way to permanently root out corruption. The proposed legislation failed on a 13-17 vote. Perez heatedly lambasted fellow Democratic legislators Charles Calderon and Kevin de León, saying that they are responsible for any future misdeeds in the city.
Three city leaders have been convicted on corruption charges since 2006. From 2006-2011, five city officials were paid over half a million dollars a year. The city's part-time city council members were among the highest-paid in the state.
November 8 election
The vote on Measure J and its companion measures on the November 22, 2011 ballot came two weeks after City of Vernon voters weighed in on four other city governance measures: Measure A (term limits), B (prevailing wages), C (at-will employment) and D (city administrator). All four of those measures were approved.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Measure F: "Shall the Vernon City Charter be amended to ensure that an Independent Reform Monitor is retained for four years? "|
- Voter pamphlet for the City of Vernon November 22, 2011 local ballot measures (E, F, G, H, I, J)]
- Website of the City of Vernon
- Eastern Group Publications, "Ballot Recommendations for Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 Consolidate Municipal Election", November 3, 2011
- The Economist, "Small-town corruption: Business paradise or den of thieves?", May 7, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "State Senate rejects controversial plan to disband city of Vernon", August 29, 2011