Corrupt Calif city dodges shutdown with reforms

November 10, 2011 - 7:00 PM
Imperiled City

FILE - This photo taken Nov. 29, 2010 shows Joe Eagan, general manager of La Villa Basque restaurant, in Vernon, Calif. Residents of the scandal-plagued city of Vernon, a 5.2-square-mile warren of warehouses, factories and railroad spurs where 55,000 people work but only about 100 actually live, are hoping their overwhelming support of a series of reform measures has convinced authorities they are serious about ending the years of corruption that led to the convictions of several top officials.(AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

VERNON, Calif. (AP) — It was a landslide vote — if there can be such a thing in a city where only 52 ballots were cast.

Seventy percent of the voters in corruption-plagued Vernon, a tiny industrial city tucked amid Southern California's sprawl, cast ballots approving reforms aimed at avoiding a shutdown by the state.

Voters approved efforts to limit City Council members to two, five-year terms after some members had served for decades with little opposition.

The warren of factories, where 55,000 people work but only about 100 live, has been run for decades by a tight-knit group that authorities say paid themselves and others huge salaries.

Three officials have been convicted of corruption, including a former city manager who routinely billed the city for golf outings, massages and a personal trainer.