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February 12, 2006

A Company Town Where the Town is the Company

Imagine a town that had only 93 legal residents but enough businesses to employ an estimated 44,000 workers. And not only did these businesses pay taxes, but also bought gas & electricity from the city owned utility. Nearly all of the town's residents are on the city payroll, and the only residential housing in the city is municipally owned, with heavily subsidized rents. Pretty cozy, eh?

Well, this town exists, and consists of 5.2 square miles located in the middle of Los Angeles County. Today's LAT has a great feature by Hector Becerra about a group of outsiders who tried to move into town and shake up the town's government by running for City Council. (The elections would have been the town's first contested election since 1980... And the current Mayor has been in office for 50 years.)

The city fathers succeeded in running the interlopers out of town. (Literally having them evicted and rejecting their voter registrations as invalid.) But the legality of these moves is being questioned. It is an amazing story, and a very bizarre abuse of the democratic process that allows a small group of people to take over the government of an entire town and run it for their benefit.

February 12, 2006 at 04:07 PM | Permalink

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