Quote of the Day: How to Tell if Your City is Poorly Run

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From Doug Rawson, chief executive of a printing company a few miles south of LA in the city of Vernon:

John Pérez has to be laughing. In retrospect, I think he was right. I think the city is poorly run…. I think we made a big mistake.

This is totally inside baseball for folks who live in Southern California, and I apologize to all the rest of you. But reading this just cracked me up. For years Vernon has been a cozy little oligopoly with a population of about a hundred residents who ran the city like a fiefdom for the benefit of its corporate chieftains. And those corporate chieftains thought this was great! Then the cozy little oligopoly started dabbling in stupid financial derivatives, stupid business deals, and insanely corrupt payoffs to local officials. But even after all this had long since been exposed, and Assembly leader John Pérez tried to disincorporate Vernon, its corporate chieftains still thought everything was peachy and fought Pérez’s proposal like crazed weasels.

Why? Because their taxes were still low and apparently all the local corporations thought they’d somehow stay low even though the city owed tons and tons of money. They still didn’t realize the city was poorly run! Imagine that. But eventually all those stupid deals and corrupt payoffs had to be accounted for, and that meant a tax increase. And guess what? Suddenly they realized that Pérez was right: Vernon was poorly run after all!

Moral of the story: actual good management doesn’t matter. If taxes are low, a city is well run. If taxes go up, it’s not well run. Any questions?

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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