Sunday, March 3, 2013

Welcome to Vernon California, where homes are nonexistent and the votes don't matter.

Here is the perfect Industrial Gothic set-up: A city with only 90 residents, told whom to vote for, tightly controlled, existing as a paradise exclusively for corporations. You say corporations are people? Well just wait until they kick you out of your house and take over!

The few residents "lucky" enough to get in enjoy largely ceremonial occupations at cushy wages. But it comes at a price: You live as a virtual prisoner of the city council, told what to do, and especially how to vote. One citizen's experience:
"Algee said he got his ballot by mail and decided to go to City Hall to fill it out and turn it in; as he stood at the counter, a city employee hovered nearby, watching him mark his choices.

'I pointed to one of their candidates and looked at her and she nodded, yes, that one,' he said. 'So I went to the next one and looked at her and she nodded again. That's how it worked.'"
The eerie government setup of Vernon, California, has led to uncontested incumbent elections since 1980. A quote from that Wiki:
"Most of the city's less than 90 voters are city employees or connected to city employees who live in homes rented at a nominal fee. In 1979 a firefighter tried to run for mayor and was immediately evicted and told he couldn't run. In 2006 a group of outsiders tried to move into Vernon and run for office. The city tried to cancel their registrations but was ordered to allow them to run and to count the ballots. Almost none of the city employees voted for them. Leonis Malburg, the mayor for fifty years, was convicted of voter fraud, conspiracy, and perjury in December 2009. In May 2011, the former city administrator Bruce Malkenhorst, Sr., accepted a plea deal for misappropriating $60,000 in public funds."
In spite of the austere population, close to 100,000 people are employed at warehouses and factories within the city limits. The city motto is indeed "Exclusively industrial". With the tightly controlled government fortress and virtually no one to cry foul, companies can get away with things in this city that us mere mortals are denied. For instance, city leaders had the power to kick Southern California Edison out of town and build their own power plant - which charges them rates 40% lower than the California standard.