“Unanticipated Turn” Sends Council Into Closed Session

Things got a little more interesting Tuesday afternoon at LA City Hall.

The Los Angeles City Council went into closed session after City Attorney Carmen Trutanich revealed that his office's investigation into the use of taxpayer resources during the Michael Jackson memorial tribute had "taken an unanticipated turn that raises both civil and criminal aspects."

He declined to go into detail during the public session, but said "in regards to the civil litigation, rest assured that before I file any lawsuit to recoup taxpayers' costs, I will confer with you (the City Council) in closed
session, to brief you and obtain your concurrence on any decision that is made."

Though Trutanich did not reveal the target of his potential lawsuit, he did reveal that he had spoken with "the attorney who represents the Staples (Center) and L.A. Live venues and requested a number of investigatory items." 

Almost a month after Jackson's death, the City Council resumed the debate Tuesday on whether millions of dollars in taxpayer money should have been spent in connection with his memorial tribute at Staples Center.

The City Council was to take up five motions pertaining to late King of Pop.

A pair of motions by Council members Dennis Zine and Jan Perry called for an accounting of "city resources used and expenditures made in response to the public reaction to the passing of Michael Jackson." They also sought to explore ways to offset those costs.

Zine has demanded that concert promoter and Staples Center owner AEG Live cover all the costs, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rejects the idea.

"I've made it very clear: We're a world class city and we will provide police protection in the city because it's our responsibility," he said.

The Mayor's office office estimated the city incurred about $1.4 million in costs in the aftermath of Jackson's June 25 death. Zine believes the actual cost is $3.9 million.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn has a motion seeking to compare the city's expenses with the revenue collected by the city as a result of the tourism boom that followed the entertainer's death.

She noted that airlines and downtown hotels experienced a surge in business as fans from throughout the world flocked to Los Angeles to grieve for their idol and celebrate his legacy.

A fourth motion, also from Zine, called for reviewing the process of selecting vendors to the city after City Controller Wendy Greuel raised questions about the purchase of 3,500 box lunches for police officers deployed to the Staples Center ceremony, claiming the food could have been purchased at a lower cost from a local vendor, instead of one 80 miles away.

The fifth motion, from Councilman Tom LaBonge, called for establishing a process to justify the use of city funds and resources to provide for public safety at significant events like sport team parades, memorial events, presidential visits and award ceremonies. It also directed various city agencies to develop a collaborative planning process that is transparent and fiscally prudent.  


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