LA pushes to get repaid for $3M Jackson memorial

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2009 6:00 PM

The Los Angeles city attorney still plans to seek reimbursement of the $3 million the city spent for the Michael Jackson memorial, a spokesman said Monday, despite an audit concluding the event pumped even more dollars into the local economy.

The July 7 memorial at Staples Center was a $4 million boon for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, according to the report released Friday from the city's chief legislative analyst and city administrative officer. The City Council's Public Safety Committee is expected to review the report next week.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is still committed to seeking reimbursement from Staples owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG.

"The bottom line is the city attorney's very committed to recouping the taxpayer's dollars," spokesman John Franklin said. "During these tough economic times right now, that's big money. We're laying off, people are getting furloughed. ... It's still money that we put out for a memorial service for Michael Jackson."

AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke has accused Trutanich of trying to bully the company into paying.

The audit said the city spent $3.2 million on the event, including $2 million in police overtime. However, it noted that there was no ordinance in place at the time that would require the organizer to reimburse city costs. That measure was only adopted on Oct. 26.

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Given the memorial's economic benefits and the lack of an ordinance, "the city may wish to cease pursuing cost reimbursement," the report concluded.

Calls to representatives of AEG before work hours Monday were not immediately returned.

Jackson, 50, died of an overdose of sedatives on June 25. His star-studded memorial service at Staples Center brought in thousands of people to the city. The city had nearly 4,000 police out at the arena, the Jackson family compound in Encino and a cemetery to deal with expected crowds. There were no reported problems.