News & Events
July 21, 2014
Press Release - (PDF: 163KB)
Vernon, CA – Vernon City Council members have appointed attorney Hema P. Patel to
serve as Vernon city attorney. Ms. Patel assumes her new duties today. Ms. Patel's
past legal work has focused on a broad range of complex business and commercial
litigation, with particular emphasis on contractual fraud and business torts.
Ms. Patel will manage Vernon's legal matters and provide legal advice and counsel to
Vernon city council members along with the city's Deputy City Attorneys Scott Porter
and Zaynah Moussa.
Ms. Patel has represented companies and individuals during internal and government
investigations, regulatory examinations, securities litigation, and other complex litigation.
She previously has advised clients on regulatory compliance and information
management issues. She was actively involved in managing all phases of federal and
state civil litigation.
Ms. Patel has had substantial experience in appellate matters. She participated in cases
before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the California Supreme Court
and previously served as a judicial clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ms. Patel previously devoted a substantial portion of her time to pro bono matters,
which included representations of individuals in asylum and refugee cases, and other
immigration proceedings. She was a volunteer deputy district attorney in the Orange
County Trial Attorney Partnership Program. She formerly worked for Jones Day, LLP
and Latham & Watkins LLP.
Ms. Patel is a board member of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California
and formerly served on the board of governors of the Asian Pacific American Bar
Association of Los Angeles.
Vernon, CA – California State Senator Kevin de León, state Senator Ricardo Lara and U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard will join Vernon Mayor W. Michael McCormick and Vernon council members on Friday, April 25 at 11:00 a.m. at 4675 52nd Drive, Vernon, CA 90058 to break ground for construction of 'Vernon Village Park,' a recently-approved 45-unit apartment development that is expected to welcome new families to Vernon in 2015.
Vernon Village Park is designed to be an attractive, affordable and energy efficient home for low-to-moderate income families in Southeast L.A. County. Vernon Village Park represents the fulfillment of Vernon's most significant good governance reform: The city's pledge to increase its voting population. Vernon Village Park is expected to more than double the number of voters in Vernon.
Vernon Village Park is a LEED Silver apartment development that will feature spacious one, two and three-bedroom units with balconies and patios, on-site laundry facilities, and a community building with kitchen.
April 8, 2014
Press Release - (PDF: 143KB)
Vernon, CA – Honorable Luz Martinez was elected today to serve a full five-year term as councilmember for the City of Vernon. Councilmember Martinez was unopposed on the ballot.
Councilmember Martinez said, "I'm proud of my work on the Vernon City Council. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our residents. My responsibility over the next five-years is to continue to serve the interests of our community."
"I look forward to working with my fellow council members to build upon our city's good governance accomplishments. While we have made solid progress, Vernon must remain on its reform path. Our city is important to the L.A. County economy. Our city's business community must remain strong and vital. Vernon must continue to be a city where businesses can locate, expand and create good-paying jobs," she added.
Councilmember Martinez has served on Vernon city council since October 2012. She completed the unexpired term of former Vernon Mayor Hilario Gonzales.
Van de Kamp's January 2014 Independent Reform Monitor Report on Vernon governance concludes, '…early promises for reform have been met… there has been no turning back.'
February 5, 2014
Press Release - (PDF: 155KB)
Vernon, CA – John Van de Kamp, Independent Reform Monitor of the city's government policies and practices, has issued the sixth in a series of in-depth, bi-annual progress reports on the city's good governance reforms.
In his 37-page report issued on January 31, 2014, Mr. Van de Kamp concluded, “Vernon continues to follow a reform path. A number of their early promises for reform have been met, or are in the works for implementation. There has been no turning back.” But he also noted, “That’s not to say that things [in Vernon] can’t get better – a comment that can always hold true.”
Mr. Van de Kamp prefaces his report by writing, “In the past six months [July 31, 2013 to January 31, 2014], Vernon has continued on its good government path, continuing to follow through on reform recommendations.”
“The most important milestone reached was the approval of Vernon’s Tax Credit Allocation, which will assist Meta Housing’s new home construction project, adding 45 new units in Vernon. When completed, it is expected to more than double Vernon’s population by the end of 2015. It is expected that ground will be broken on the project sometime in the spring of 2014,” Mr. Van de Kamp wrote.
Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth said in reference to Mr. Van de Kamp’s January 2014 report, “Our city has kept the promises it made in 2011. Today, Vernon operates much like any other municipality. Vernon endured two-years of intense scrutiny. But through it all, our city’s leaders did not waver from their pledge to adopt good governance practices.”
“Vernon has more progress in store. In addition to this year’s construction of our city’s privately-funded 45-unit apartment development, we will soon announce appointees to our Vernon CommUNITY Fund, a nonprofit charitable entity that will award grants to worthy municipal projects and nonprofit programs that benefit our city’s residents and residents in our city’s neighboring communities, much like the good neighbor support our city has provided to the City of Huntington Park for the renovation of soccer fields at Salt Lake Park, a popular recreation spot for Vernon families,” Mr. Whitworth added.
To view Mr. Van de Kamp’s January 31, 2014 Independent Reform Monitor progress report on Vernon’s governance and reforms, go to:
Mayor McCormick applauds AQMD Board’s approval of new rule to impose stricter limits on harmful lead air emissions from lead acid battery recycling plants
January 14, 2014
Press Release - (PDF: 197KB)
Vernon, CA – Mayor W. Michael McCormick today applauded the members of the Governing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for their approval of a new, stricter air emissions rule that will toughen emission standards for lead acid battery recycling facilities operating in the City of Industry and Vernon.
Mayor McCormick said, “The City of Vernon remains fully committed to working cooperatively with AQMD to protect public health and improve air quality for our city’s workers, residents and the hundreds of thousands of residents living in our nearby communities.
In October 2013, members of the Vernon City Council passed a resolution seeking an AQMD health advisory for lead and arsenic emissions after AQMD staff issued a Notice of Violation to Exide Technologies for arsenic and lead emissions that had exceeded regulatory limits.
Mayor McCormick had also directed Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth to transmit the Council’s resolution to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and city councils of the cities of Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Maywood and Huntington Park to urge those jurisdictions to support the AQMD’s then-proposed tougher rule on air emissions from lead acid battery recycling facilities.
Vernon firefighters use ‘Spirit of Giving’ to bring aid, comfort and joy to residents of surrounding communities during 2013 holiday season
December 23, 2013
Press Release - (PDF: 201KB)
Vernon, CA – Every year, the members of the Vernon Fireman’s Association (VFA) Local 2312 contribute their time and efforts to make Christmas a special time for families in need, donate blood to aid hospitalized children and mount special fundraising drives to help researchers find a cure for breast cancer.
As Christmas 2013 approaches, Vernon firefighters – working collectively as a surrogate Santa Claus – received more than 3,000 donated toys to distribute to children who might otherwise not receive gifts on Christmas Day. The Vernon Fire Department’s participation in the ‘Spark of Love Toy Drive’ brings heartfelt joy to children’s lives through its firefighters’ close collaboration with community-based organizations from Compton to Los Angeles.
Vernon Fire Captain Michael Langer said, “Giving back to our city and residents of our surrounding communities has long been a part of our mission in the Vernon Fire Service. This year, we are pleased to be able to bring joy to children’s lives on Christmas Day by distributing thousands of toys to families in need through our partnerships with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Maywood Community Center Salvation Army, Vernon Rotary Club, Vernon School, Holy Angels Church, Los Angeles Plaza la Roca, Huntington Park Police Department and Compton Fire Department.”
In October, Vernon firefighters raised $6,000 from sales of pink t-shirts and wristbands purchased by Vernon businesses and city employees to contribute to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Earlier this year, Vernon firefighters staged a fundraising blood drive to aid children needing transfusions at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, shaved their heads for their annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation ‘Conquer Kids Cancer’ fundraiser, and stationed members at key intersections in Vernon for their VFA ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign to raise thousands of dollars to support the work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
November 21, 2013
Spark of Love Toy Drive Flyer - (PDF: 155KB)
Dear Vernon Businesses,
I would like to invite the businesses of Vernon to join ABC7 and the Vernon Fire Department as we celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Spark of Love Toy Drive. For 20 years, ABC7 and Southern California Firefighters have joined forces to run the “Spark of Love” Toy Drive. This campaign collects new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment for the underserved children in our communities. Please help us celebrate our 21 st Anniversary by dropping off a toy or sports equipment at your local fire station, or if you prefer, you can donate on line at www.calfund.org/page.aspx?pid=622 and we will do the shopping for you.
The kick-off date for this year’s drive is November 18 th and runs through December 24th . Toys collected in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura and Riverside counties are distributed locally. Last year alone, “Spark of Love” collected close to 500,000 toys within the five counties. Going into our 21st year, our goal is to exceed last year’s amount of toys to be distributed to the children in our communities.
Once again, we will have boxes located at all Fire Stations, Vernon City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. If you would like a collection box at your business please call the contact number listed below.
We will be having a toy collection day at Fire Station #1 on Friday, December 13 th . All businesses are encouraged to stop by, bring their donated toys and take pictures with members of the Fire Department on fire engines and ladder trucks. The toy collection day will begin at 10am and continue until 2pm at Fire Station #1 (3375 Fruitland Ave.)
If you are unable to attend our toy collection day at the fire station we will be available to pick up donated toys prior to December 13 th with a fire department pick up truck (fire engines may not be available for toy pickups, although we will try to facilitate all requests).
Please join ABC7 and Firefighters across the Southland in making this season a little brighter for thousands of local boys and girls who may otherwise go without a gift. Through the Spark of Love Toy Drive, the spirit of giving will be felt throughout the communities we live and work as well as in the hearts of less fortunate children.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a toy pickup prior to December 14 th, feel free to contact us. Again, thank you for your support and Happy Holidays.
Michael Langer - Captain
Vernon Fire Department
(323)583-4821 ext 281 (Fire Admin)
(323)583-4821 ext 510 (Fire St #1, 3375 Fruitland Ave.)
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer grants $8 million in federal low income housing tax credits for Vernon's affordable rental housing development project
October 15, 2013
Press Release - (PDF: 211KB)
Vernon, CA – California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee have approved the City of Vernon’s application for $8,070,530 in federal low income housing tax credits over 10-years for the Vernon Family Apartments project, a 45-unit apartment development planned for a two-acre site in the 4600 block of East 52nd Drive, adjacent to a Maywood residential neighborhood.
City Administrator Mark Whitworth said, “Approval of the federal low income tax credits is a major boost for one of our city’s most important projects. Vernon City Council members played a key role in helping this project succeed when they voted to increase the city’s financial contribution to the project to aid efforts to qualify for the tax credits that were approved.”
“Senator Kevin de León was instrumental in helping move our project forward through his strong support for the tax credit application. With the tax credits granted, we’re now preparing to complete the site’s environmental reviews. When that’s accomplished, we’ll give the go-ahead to bring construction workers to the site and put shovels in the ground,” Mr. Whitworth added.
The LEED Silver development, to be constructed in five two-story modules, has been designed with a pitched-roof style that will fit in well with neighboring residential properties in the City of Maywood. A third party residential property manager will manage the rental units.
Plans for Vernon’s new housing development have steadily taken shape over the past 24-months. The privately built and financed apartment complex is scheduled to be ‘move-in ready’ in early 2015.
Housing development agreements approved by the Vernon City Council have been signed with Meta Housing Corporation. Provisions in the agreement will ensure the site is developed to provide livable rental housing, proper security for residents, and sufficient open space for prospective renters to enjoy. The city updated its general plan and zoning ordinances to enable the apartment development to be built in an overlay zone in Vernon’s “exclusively industrial” community.
The affordable apartments are being built, in part, to increase Vernon’s residential population, and by extension, the city’s voting electorate; a key element of the city’s good governance reforms unanimously approved by Vernon City Council members in August 2011, and endorsed by state Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
Vernon City Council unanimously approves resolution calling on AQMD to issue a health advisory for Southeast L.A. County residents due to harmful arsenic and lead air emissions
Press Release - (PDF: 204KB)
Vernon, CA – The five-member Vernon City Council today unanimously voted to approve a resolution strongly urging the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to issue a health advisory for residents of Southeast Los Angeles County due the potential health risk from elevated levels of arsenic and harmful lead air emissions discovered in the agency's air monitoring surveys of a battery recycling facility based in Vernon.
Leonard Grossberg, Vernon Health and Environmental Control Director, told Vernon City Council members prior to their vote, "Ongoing air quality environmental issues have elevated the fear and concerns of Vernon residents and the 55,000 workers at Vernon's 1,800-businesses. Environmental concerns have risen dramatically in the neighborhoods, communities and cities that are in close proximity to the City of Vernon.
"The growing air emissions fears and concerns held by residents and workers within the Southeast L.A. County area must be adequately addressed with a greater sense of urgency by the SCAQMD. Immediate health advisory information regarding exposure to lead and arsenic air emissions is warranted.
"The City of Vernon Health & Environmental Control Department continues to validate our commitment to strong environmental controls and continued protection of public health issues. The Vernon City Council expressed great concern over potential health effects from lead and arsenic emissions from Exide at its September 17, 2013 meeting.
"Although the SCAQMD has said they are issuing a Notice of Violation to Exide, we feel more steps can be taken to protect the health and lives of residents and workers in the City of Vernon as well as other potentially affected communities. Consequently, I am recommending that the City Council approve a resolution requesting the SCAQMD issue an Exide Technologies health advisory to South East Los Angeles County and any other areas that may be affected. By issuing a health advisory, potentially affected residents and workers can be informed of the risks of lead emissions from Exide and the precautions people can take to protect themselves."
Following the council members' unanimous vote, Vernon Mayor W. Michael McCormick said, "The City of Vernon remains committed to helping AQMD and DTSC protect the public health and safety of our city's 55,000 workers and 115-residents and the hundreds of thousands of residents in our nearby communities.
"Vernon is doing its part to make sure residents in Vernon and elsewhere remain safe. We believe the AQMD can do more to help residents fully understand their immediate and long-term health risks and what they can do to protect themselves and their families.
"A health advisory issued by AQMD would greatly help residents who want, and deserve, a clear answer to their primary question regarding AQMD's lead and arsenic air emissions study on Exide's facility: Is our air safe to breathe today?"
Mayor McCormick directed Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth to transmit the Council's resolution to AQMD officials and send the resolution accompanied by a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the city councils of the cities of Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Maywood and Huntington Park to seek their concurrence on the AQMD lead and arsenic air emissions issue and passage of similar resolutions calling for an AQMD health advisory in their cities and unincorporated areas.
City of Vernon salutes Sen. Kevin de León for passage of 'Malkenhorst's Law' to protect cities against costly pension lawsuits filed by convicted former officials
Press Release - (PDF: 203KB)
Vernon, CA – The City of Vernon today cheered Senator Kevin de León for passage of Senate Bill 39, his legislation to prohibit convicted former public officials from filing lawsuits claiming that cites are financially responsible for payment of any CalPERS reductions in their pensions that stem from their wrongdoing as public officials.
Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth said, “Senator Kevin de León has provided a great public service to cities throughout California by working hard to pass SB 39. Senator De León saw the danger local cities face when former public officers, who misused their positions of authority and took financial advantage of their cities, seek to be rewarded for their misdeeds by forcing cities to pay their lavish pensions. The City of Vernon joins with other California cities in urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB 39 into law to protect our state’s municipalities from being victimized twice at the hands of convicted former public officials.”
The City of Vernon is seeking immediate dismissal of a pension lawsuit filed by former Vernon City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst in L.A. County Superior Court. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) reduced Malkenhorst’s annual pension to $115,000 after the pension authority discovered he had received improper compensation. Malkenhorst’s lawsuit seeks to force the City of Vernon to use city funds to restore his annual pension to the previous sum in excess of $500,000.
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.
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:
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.