Los Angeles Business Journal

Vernon Business Has the Most at Stake in Reforming the City

OP-ED By ERIC R. GUSTAFSON Monday, June 6, 2011

Ron Shinkman’s op-ed in the May 23 issue of the Business Journal (“A Vote of No-Confidence in Vernon’s ‘Elected Officials’) makes it clear that he is not aware of the real effects of AB 46, which would disincorporate the city of Vernon. Nor is he aware of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to reform the city.

Our family has owned and operated Coast Packing Co. in Vernon since 1922. We are a founding member of the Vernon chamber since 1950, and I can empathically state his facts are simply incorrect and his insight is misguided.

Besides his many factual errors (Vernon’s current mayor has not held office since the 1950s nor is he under indictment), Shinkman’s attacks on the Vernon chamber are completely unjustified and false. The chamber remains an independent voice for business and to imply that it “has been in lockstep with Vernon’s shadowy leadership” is ridiculous. Shinkman should check his facts to learn the chamber has not and does not receive any funding from the city.

Furthermore, the Vernon business community for years was not actively involved in local politics. Most business owners were more concerned with operating their businesses, and appreciated the fact that business taxes and utility rates were significantly lower than surrounding areas, and fire and police services respond within minutes, not hours, like in the city of Los Angeles. These are some of the important reasons why Vernon remains the last manufacturing hub in Southern California.

Under Shinkman’s rationale, he and every business owner in Burbank should be personally responsible to be aware of every salary of every elected and nonelected official in his city. That’s simply an unfair burden to put on businesses. Honestly, do most business owners in any city know what’s going on in local government if it doesn’t affect them on a daily basis? Probably not.

When the business community of Vernon, led by the Vernon chamber, realized what was occurring, we took the lead in proposing immediate reforms. No one has more to benefit from a transparent and reformed Vernon than the 1,800 businesses that are based here. Taking matters into its own hands, the chamber quickly proposed a set of reforms and has pushed for them to be implemented right away, including a Housing Commission ordinance that will pave the way to a more independent electorate. Bell just had successful elections and is being given the chance to reform. Why can’t Vernon have this same opportunity?

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