Vernon is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 91 at the 2000 census. It has the smallest population of any incorporated city in Southern California; most of the city's land area is occupied by industrial facilities. Vernon is the original site where The Battle of La Mesa occurred on January 9, 1847, the day after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel, which ended hostilities in Alta California during the Mexican American war, 1846 - 1848.
Vernon was incorporated to promote industrial development along the railroads in the area. Consisting almost entirely of warehouses and factories, the city's main industries are food service manufacturing, metalworking, and manufacture of glass and plastic equipment. Hence, it is fitting that the slogan on its official city seal is "Exclusively Industrial."
Most housing is owned by the City of Vernon; its residents are employed within the city limits. There are approximately 46,000 direct and 54,000 indirect mostly skilled workers employed by business within the City of Vernon.
Among the multitude of businesses is Bon Appetit Bakery and Farmer John Meat Packing, whose products are highly visible in many convenience stores and service stations.
In 2006, a controversy arose concerning a few people who moved into Vernon and ran for city council. This marked the first time in more than two decades that there was a competitive race for city council. On October 19, 2006, results were announced and all three incumbents retained their seats on the city council.
There were 25 households out of which 56.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 92.0% were married couples living together, and 8.0% were non-families. 8.0% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.64 and the average family size was 3.78.
In the city the population was spread out with 37.4% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 34.1% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $60,000, and the median income for a family was $63,750. Males had a median income of $46,250 versus $33,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,812. None of the population and none of the families were below the poverty line.
The Poxon China Company was founded by George Wade Poxon (b 1887, Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England) and his wife Judith (nee Furlong), who married in 1913 at St Martha's Church, Vernon (the church was built by the Furlong family in 1913). George Wade Poxon is a cousin of George Albert Wade (later Colonel Sir George Albert Wade) - famous as the chairman of Wade Potteries Limited in England that produced Wade Whimsies. George Wade (b. about 1863 Tunstall, Staffordshire, father to George Albert Wade and uncle to George Wade Poxon) owned a pottery in Burslem, Staffordshire. The Wade family had been associated with the pottery industry for many years. George Wade Poxon was a member of the Royal Science Academy in England. He emigrated to the USA in 1911 at the age of 24. The kilns were located on the Furlong ranch in Vernon.
Vernon Kilns was founded in July 1931 after Faye G. Bennison purchased the Poxon China Company in Vernon, California. The Poxon China Company had its headquarters at 2310 East 52nd Street, Vernon, California, now part of Los Angeles. Bennison continued to produce Poxon lines, using Poxon shapes for some time before an earthquake in 1933 forced Bennison to develop original shapes for Vernon. Two fires in the late 1940s almost brought the end of Vernon Potteries, Ltd., but Bennison decided to rebuild and continued to flourish during a time when imports were not available. The company was not able to compete when a flood of foreign imports hit the American shelves and in 1958 Vernon Kilns sold its holding to Metlox. Metlox continued to market some Vernon shapes and patterns under the division Vernonware until 1989.
The company produced dinnerware, art pottery, figurines, ashtrays and other popular lines. All products were of earthenware, with clays from Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and England. Glazes were developed from minerals mined in California and many patterns including all of the plaids were hand painted.
The city is also home to several rendering plants, food processors, smelters and metal working companies.
As the city is primarily industrial, with an extremely small residential population, it boasts a number of efficient city services, including its own Health Department, a Class 1 Fire Department, a comprehensive and strong police force, municipal owned housing for city employees, and a light and power department with extremely low rates, in some cases 40% cheaper than Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. These services are tailored towards the industrial interests in the city and governmental support; city government employees make up the majority of the residential sector.
Furthermore, the City of Vernon had the men followed by private investigators carrying unlicensed firearms on at least two occasions, one of which resulted in the arrest of a private eye in South Pasadena in February 2006. The City of Vernon alleged that the men were part of a hostile takeover attempt by convicted felon Albert Robles, who nearly bankrupted the nearby city of South Gate as treasurer and Eduardo Olivo a former Vernon attorney who also worked with Albert T. Robles in South Gate.
An election was held under a court order on April 11, 2006. But the city clerk, Bruce Malkenhorst Jr, has refused to count the ballots until the legal disputes are resolved, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz, agreed and order the ballots to be sealed. On June 30, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson called on the city to count the votes and expressed his support for the state to take over the responsibility of conducting the city's elections During the trial it was alleged that all three of the newcomer candidates have direct ties to Albert T. Robles. Alejandro Lopez is a first cousin, David Johnson Jr.is the brother-in-law of a business partner, Don A. Huff is associated through Eduardo Olivo. In August 2006, Judge Munoz ruled that the newcomers were trespassing on private property, that they received free rent and jobs prior to registering to vote and that they were involved in a scheme orchestrated by Albert T. Robles and Eduardo Olivo to "steal" the election, but that such actions were not illegal.
On October 16, 2006, it was announced that city officials are ready to count the votes from the contested April 11 election. The officials failed to prove their claim of voter fraud. A judge granted the City of Vernon's motion to count the votes.
On October 19, 2006, it was announced all votes have been counted and all three incumbents will retain their seats on the city council despite the challenges. In total, 68 votes were cast in contrast to the city's 90 registered voters.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office had launched an investigation in April 2005 following allegations that the city’s former administrator, Bruce Malkenhorst Sr., had misappropriated public funds for personal use.
Their investigation uncovered evidence of voter fraud, ironically, against the ruling family who tried to keep out the new residents. Leonis Malburg, who has been mayor for 50 years, claimed he lived in a small Vernon apartment in the 2800 block of Leonis Boulevard (named after his grandfather, also a mayor), when in fact he was living in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. His wife and son also claimed to live in Vernon, voting in Vernon elections though evidence indicated they too lived in Hancock Park. Charges against the Malburgs include voter fraud, assisting unqualified voters, false registration, and perjury.
Malkenhorst is charged in case No. BA312388 with 18 counts of misappropriation of public funds for allegedly taking $60,000 of city money for personal use. His salary from the city had been $600,000.