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Vernon's Fight Against Disincorporation May Bankrupt the City

The city of Vernon, California, fought hard recently to avoid disincorporation. The price of that fight has drained the city's coffers, and now some say it's too deep in the hole to function properly.
December 29, 2011, 1pm PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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The city paid out roughly $9 million in various legal fees to stop a plan to disincorporate the small and sparsely populated city. This is in addition to the $60 million concession the city agreed to make to nearby cities as part of its deal to remain an independent city in Los Angeles County.

"'The law firm is running the city,' said Councilman Daniel D. Newmire. 'That's the way I smell it.'

...John Van de Kamp, the former state attorney general who is Vernon's ethics advisor, said he also believes the firm's rates are too high. He praised Latham & Watkins' performance but said the hefty legal fees underscore a larger problem Vernon has in paying attorneys far too much.

'If you look at the history of Vernon in the last 10 years and the amount of money law firms have taken out before, it's much too high and there's no question about it,' Van de Kamp said. (He charges the city $550 an hour, which he described as a discounted rate.)"

Thanks to Nate Berg

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Published on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 in Los Angeles Times
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