City Still Wants Money Back for Jackson Memorial

The City Council and AEG try to "come to some sort of understanding.''

As much as everyone loved celebrating Michael Jackson's life, Los Angeles really, really wants its money back for the costs of the funeral.

And today the discussions continue.

The City Council's Public Safety committee will today discuss attempts to get entertainment giant AEG to reimburse at least some of the $3.2 million in taxpayer money spent on the Michael Jackson memorial.

Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Jan Perry revealed she was talking to executives at AEG -- which organized the memorial -- about possibly paying the city back for police overtime that day. She said she wanted to "see if we can come to some sort of understanding.''

The city's top legal and financial advisers have calculated the memorial cost taxpayers $3.2 million -- including $2 million in police overtime -- but injected $4 million into the local economy, in part through a spike in business at restaurants and hotels throughout the city.

Although the report noted the city had "no ordinance in place providing for cost recovery,'' City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has been determined to compel AEG to reimburse taxpayers.

In their report to the Public Safety Committee, the city's Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana noted that not until Oct. 26 did the city adopt an ordinance that could have compelled reimbursement from AEG.

"In light of the overall positive impact of the event ($4 million), and that there was no ordinance in place prior to the event providing for cost recovery from major venues, the city may wish to cease pursuing cost reimbursement,'' the report concluded.

Miller and Santana said costs for the memorial skyrocketed because the Los Angeles Police Department, which provided security at the memorial, anticipated that up to 1 million Jackson fans could show up at Staples Center.

To provide crowd control and prevent a repeat of the riots that marred the Los Angeles Lakers championship celebration, the LAPD deployed 3,968 officers in and around Staples Center, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in the Hollywood Hills, the Jackson family compound in Encino and the singer's rented mansion in Holmby Hills, from the morning of July 6 through the evening of July 7.

Though the massive crowds predicted at Staples Center did not materialize -- the actual turnout was closer to 20,000 -- Miller and Santana concluded that "in light of the potential risks to the public and past experience with potentially large and unpredictable events, city departments acted reasonably and responsibly in planning and deploying staff for the Michael Jackson memorial.''

Jackson died June 25 at age 50 from an overdose of a powerful sedative he was using as a sleep aid.

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