City of Vernon California

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Vernon backs bill to bar pension lawsuits filed by former local officials convicted of corruption

Press Release - (PDF: 201KB)

Vernon, CA – The City of Vernon today expressed strong support for Senate Bill 39 authored by state Senator Kevin de León that would prohibit former public officials that have been convicted of felonies for wrongdoing, which occurred while they were in office, from filing lawsuits contesting reductions in their pensions.

Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth said, “SB 39 will stop a grave miscarriage of justice from occurring in Vernon and cities across California. No city should be subjected to a pension lawsuit from a former public official that has been convicted of fleecing the city they once worked for. The City of Vernon applauds Senator Kevin de León for recognizing the injustice that results when our local cities are subjected to unjustified pension lawsuits filed by former public officers who became perpetrators of wrongdoing or corruption while in office, and taking affirmative steps to stop them.”

The City of Vernon is seeking immediate dismissal of a lawsuit filed by former Vernon City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst in L.A. County Superior Court. The California Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) reduced Malkenhorst’s annual pension to $115,000 after improper compensation reporting was uncovered by the state pension agency. Malkenhorst’s lawsuit seeks to force the City of Vernon to use city funds to restore his $500,000 annual pension.


City of Vernon to seek dismissal of pension lawsuit filed by former city administrator Bruce Malkenhorst

Press Release - (PDF: 213KB)

Vernon, CA – The City of Vernon will seek immediate dismissal of a lawsuit filed by former Vernon City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst when the lawsuit is assigned a judge in L.A. County Superior Court and the legal matter is placed on the court’s calendar.

Malkenhorst’s lawsuit seeks to restore his $500,000 annual pension. The California Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) reduced Malkenhorst’s annual pension to $115,000 after improper compensation reporting was uncovered by the state agency. Malkenhorst’s lawsuit seeks to hold the City of Vernon responsible for paying the annual pension funds he lost when CalPERS reduced his pension.

In a statement on Malkenhorst’s legal maneuver delivered today to Vernon City Council members, Vernon City Attorney Nicholas Rodriguez said, "I would like to provide a short update for the public on the Malkenhorst v. City of Vernon litigation.

“First, by way of context, the present City Council has provided unfaltering moral and policy leadership in ending past abuses of power and distancing the City from the Bruce Malkenhorst era. The City has adopted new policies, procedures and safeguards to build a professional and ethical administration, and to ensure that what was done in the past will never be repeated in Vernon in the years ahead.

“The City has supported change promoted by its executive leadership. City Administrator Mark Whitworth, Interim City Clerk Dana Reed, and their respective teams have established good governance best practices in all of the city's work and services. In the past three-years, Vernon has implemented comprehensive reforms recommended by Senator Kevin de León; John Van de Kamp, Vernon’s Independent Reform Monitor; and by the State Auditor.

“The City of Vernon looks to its future. It has correctly made every tough policy and ethical decision required of it to move forward. The City has made it impossible today for someone like Bruce Malkenhorst to come into Vernon to raid its treasury as he did.

“Yet, as if in a bad dream, the hand of Bruce Malkenhorst has reached out and tried to drag the City of Vernon back into the past and away from its progress.

“First, he sued the City of Vernon and CalPERS to retain his obscene and ill-gotten pension award. Second, he appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit when his complaint was thrown out of court. Lastly, he sued Vernon directly, making the absurd claim that the City owes him an estimated $360,000, per year, for the rest of his life.

“The shamelessness and audacity of Malkenhorst’s latest effort to enrich himself at the expense the City of Vernon has rightly caught the attention of local, state and national news media.

“As the City Council has directed us to do as your lawyers, we will continue to oppose Malkenhorst's lawsuits and deny his claims for additional funds from the taxpayers of the City of Vernon.

“Mr. Malkenhorst betrayed his oath of office. He betrayed the City of Vernon. He betrayed the City Council that served Vernon at that time. We will oppose all of Malkenhorst’s attempts to enrich himself further at the expense of this City.

“Malkenhorst's lawsuit is currently in the process of being transferred from the County of Orange where he filed his suit to the County of Los Angeles where the lawsuit should have properly been filed in the first instance. We intend to oppose it aggressively as soon as it reaches the Los Angeles County Courts."

Malkenhorst’s lawsuit was originally filed in Orange County Superior Court. The City of Vernon challenged the Orange County court venue. City lawyers requested the lawsuit be transferred to Los Angeles County Superior Court. The city’s request was granted.


Independent Reform Monitor’s Report concludes ‘Vernon can now look to its future’

Press Release - (PDF: 208KB)

Vernon, CA – John Van de Kamp, Independent Reform Monitor of Vernon’s governance policies and practices, today issued his July 31, 2013 progress report on the city’s reforms.

In his 38-page report, Mr. Van de Kamp indicated that the City of Vernon is making steady progress. “In the past six months, Vernon has tied up a lot of loose ends. It has addressed its most significant financial problems, with staff reductions, and tax increases. It has produced a balanced budget,” Mr. Van de Kamp wrote.

“Vernon can now look to its future; it is time for long term planning. Vernon’s administrators need to ask what should Vernon look like in five years and how does it get there,” he wrote.

Mr. Van de Kamp has examined and evaluated Vernon’s municipal policies relating to local government ethics, conflicts of interest, open government and transparency since February 2011, while serving, initially, as Vernon’s Independent Ethics Advisor.

Mr. Van de Kamp cited that while Vernon land values continue to rise in 2013 and vacancy rates for businesses remain low (4.2%), the city’s infrastructure could benefit from closer attention. “Needed will be long term planning for such things as better street maintenance, improved mobility, set backs where achievable, aesthetic and landscape improvements (e.g. greening Vernon), watershed and storm water management, better graffiti and litter control, as well as meeting the needs of the fire and police departments and other departments involved in meeting Vernon’s needs and priorities,” he wrote.

Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth said, “We are, once again, pleased to receive Mr. Van de Kamp’s July 2013 report card on our city’s reforms. The City of Vernon has come a long way in two years. We remain on the path to becoming a model city in Southeast L.A. County. We are proud of the progress we’ve made.”

To review John Van de Kamp’s July 2013 progress report on Vernon governance, go to:


Vernon Health and Environmental Control Orders HazMat Cleanup at Four Star Chemical

Press Release - (PDF: 213KB)

Vernon, CA – Vernon Health and Environmental Control Department (VHEC) officials, citing an "imminent danger to health, public safety and the environment" today announced they have ordered the immediate cleanup of flammable hazardous waste substances improperly stored in drums at Four Star Chemical, a chemical blender, packager and aerosol manufacturer located at 3137 E. 26th Street in Vernon (90058).

The VHEC cleanup order comes in the aftermath of a two-month department investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in the handling, safe management and disposal of hazardous substances at Four Star Chemical.

VHEC officials, in cooperation with Vernon's Fire Marshal, took enforcement action against Four Star Chemical after serious violations of California hazardous materials monitoring and control statutes were discovered at Four Star Chemical's manufacturing plant during an on-site investigative code enforcement inspection at the company's facilities.

VHEC officials found that improperly stored hazardous waste containers at the Four Star Chemical site posed an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and safety and the environment.

VHEC's administrative order requires Four Star Chemical to safely remove and properly dispose of hazardous substances found to have been improperly stored in drums on the company's property.