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Council Asks Trutanich to Clarify His Position on Jackson Memorial Costs

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, December 08, 2009, at 10:51AM
Through the Barricade Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Ticketholders funnel through police barricades at the corner of Figueroa and Olympic as they head to a July 7 memorial service for Michael Jackson.

Two weeks after massive crowds failed to materialize outside Staples Center for the July 7 memorial service honoring singer Michael Jackson, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich told the City Council that his investigation of the event's costs had taken "an unanticipated turn that raised both civil and criminal aspects."

Nearly five months later, Councilmembers are still waiting to hear what Trutanich meant.

They have asked him to appear at Friday's City Council meeting to discuss the issue, but it is uncertain whether they will get any answers. At a pair of committee meetings on Monday, representatives of Trutanich's office emphasized that criminal prosecution is done independent of the Council.

That didn't sit well with Councilman Bernard Parks, chair of the Budget and Finance committee. "I do believe that you owe us some explanation of what is the overall issue of the criminal behavior that you are investigating," he said.

Believing that more than a million people could turn out near Staples Center on the day of the memorial service, LAPD deployed 3,968 officers to the L.A. Live area and a handful of other involved sites around the city. The city is seeking help from AEG, which produced the memorial service, to offset $3.2 million in costs from the event.

That money would come as a donation, not a reimbursement, since the city chose its own deployment levels and had no contract with AEG to provide services.

Councilwoman Jan Perry told the Public Safety committee that she has had talks with AEG CEO Tim Leiweke about such a donation, but that the conversation was stopped by Trutanich's statement. "It is my belief that as long as there continues to be a threat outstanding of criminal prosecution, I'm fairly certain that there will be no ... donation to the city," she said.

Other Councilmembers agreed that it was time to wrap up the memorial issue. "It's been a number of months," said Councilman Dennis Zine. "If there are issues that need to be resolved, we need to resolve them."

Councilman Greig Smith, chair of the Public Safety committee, called on the City Attorney to act. "May I add to the City Attorney, there's nothing to be gained by prolonging this further," said Smith. "We are going to be partners with AEG for a long, long time, and the last thing we want to do is have an unproductive relationship. It's in all our best interests to resolve this quickly."


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