Testifying to Save Vernon

Engineering Manager for US Growers Cold Storage

Editor’s note: The
following is the prepared text of Mr. Corselli’s testimony before the Assembly
Local Government Committee yesterday opposing AB 46, which would dissolve the
City of Vernon. The bill passed
the committee
.

Good
afternoon Mr. Chair and members of the committee.  My name is Peter Corselli.  I am the engineering manager for US Growers
Cold Storage, we have been in the City of Vernon for 61 years, and I am opposed
to AB 46.

US Growers
employs 150 people directly and several hundred more through contractors and
other business operations throughout the city. 
Ninety percent of our employees are members of either the Teamsters or
the Operating Engineers union. 

AB 46 is an
irresponsible mess; Vernon businesses are spending millions of dollars and
countless hours trying to fend off this Bill that affects no other city than
Vernon.

With unemployment
in California at over 12%, we need to maintain the stability of our work
environment. This bill is creating havoc. 
The businesses in Vernon are spending tons of money and time fighting
AB-46. 

Vernon
businesses that are on the fence financially are considering leaving the City
and the state.

Businesses
that may be considering moving to California, specifically because of Vernon,
are putting their plans on hold or are deciding to stay away- because of this
bill. 

Why are we
fighting so hard against AB 46?  Because,
through top notch city services and low utility rates the City of  Vernon creates stability and a welcome
business environment;. 

The quiet
joke among businesses in Vernon is that Vernon is a business that pretends to
be a city.  The reality is that Vernon is
run like a business where all of the businesses are customers and we are
treated that way.  We don’t get
shortcuts, we are not allowed to circumvent regulations and we are held to the
same requirements as any other business in the state. But if we want to try
something more efficient or unique we are allowed to prove our case. The City
of Vernon works with us to make Vernon work!

This is
evident by the fact that over the last decade, Southern California has lost 36%
of its manufacturing jobs.  In Vernon,
we’ve only lost 10%. 

For US
Growers, one of the biggest benefits that Vernon provides is low utility
rates.  We spend about $2 million dollars
a year on electricity.  I would expect
that number to jump by at least 15 percent in any other part of Los
Angeles. 

Another
benefit of Vernon is the Class 1 fire department and its Haz Mat teams.  This is paramount to a business like US
Growers with ammonia refrigeration systems.

Ammonia is
the greenest refrigerant available and it is also the most efficient. It is
also classified as extremely hazardous. 

The
firefighters in Vernon are some of the most experienced in the nation. Most of
them have been there a long time; they know and have been through every
facility in the City. 

I have three
fire stations within a two-mile radius of my facility.  I could walk to them in less than 15
minutes.  This means saved lives and
saved costs.

Most of the
refrigerated facilities in the United States are loath to call their fire
departments.  When they have an incident,
the last thing they want to do to is call their fire department. 

In Vernon,
the fire department is our welcome savior!  

These are
just a few of the benefits Vernon provides to US Growers and all Vernon
businesses. I do not think the county or any of our surrounding cities could
maintain or provide the environment Vernon businesses are accustomed to.   

It has been
said today that the threat of lost jobs is just a red herring.  As a person who runs a business in the City
of Vernon, do you think I would be here if I thought the job loss and impact on
business wasn’t real?

The simple
fact is that this bill is already hurting the City of Vernon and its jobs.    Which also means that the Bill is also
hurting the State.

But it’s not
just job loss that you should be concerned about.  If this bill passes and is signed into law,
My Company, US Growers will not leave the City of Vernon.  We are a logistics provider and facility
location is key.

If AB 46
becomes law, our costs will go up.  At
the end of the day, our employees will be hurt most because we will not be able
to provide the pay and benefits that we provide now. 

We are told
this bill is about corruption in the city. 
But doesn’t it make sense to try and reform the city before you try to
kill it?  How do you put in a new
governance structure where there was once a city and keep it the same as it is
today?  How is that possible? Why is this
the only alternative?

Don’t get me
wrong; I do not care if the current city council keeps their jobs.  I care about the overall business climate in
the City of Vernon.  The mere existence
of this bill is disrupting that.

We have real
problems and business decisions to make. 
Unfortunately we are spending most of our time fighting off an artificial
nemesis- AB 46.  The sooner this bill
dies – the better. 

I’d like to
get back to work!

Thank you
for listening, I am happy to answer any questions from the committee. 

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