The story a few days ago was buried in the Los Angeles Times—far less conspicuously than the King of Pop, who stopped at Staple’s Center to say goodbye to 17,000 of his closest friends. The tale is a simple one; taxpayers are going to get stuck with the 1.4 million dollar expense for security and services required to have had a Michael Jackson memorial service at Staple’s Center. Mayor Villaraigosa, who for the record I’ve always gone easy on (we’re both from East LA and we both went to UCLA), has stated his firm belief that the city should pay for such an event…This firm belief is undoubtedly rooted in the Mayor’s close relationship with AEG and AEG President Tim Leiweki, who for the record I like as a person—even though I often take AEG and his staff to task.

Mayor Villaraigosa should consider this: he was barely reelected against a field of nobodies—if I recall with an embarrassing 55.56 percent of the vote. Although it seems like a strange correlation to make, he has also been the face of LA Live—more than Tim Leiweki President and CEO and far more than Philip Anschutz the reclusive owner. AEG may be a loyal financial supporter of Mayor Villaraigosa, but the company has become so unpopular in the community that the Mayor is now paying the political price for his association. And make no mistake about it—this 1.4 million might be the straw that breaks what should have been an incredible political career—not because it is such a staggering sum of money, but because the city of Los Angeles is in such financial straits—

And it is AEG that should be paying for these expenses not the taxpayers of Los Angeles.

President and CEO of AEG Tim Leiweki asserted in the LA Times that AEG shouldn’t have to pay for the service held at their property because they didn’t do it to make a profit. And he suggested that those of us who dare to think that AEG should pay are publicity seekers. THE POT CALLS THE KETTLE BLACK! Why did AEG have a memorial service for Michael Jackson at Staple’s center? To craft a positive image for the King of Pop, which AEG is heavily invested in. It defies credulity to suggest that AEG’s business interest did not benefit from the memorial service held at the AEG owned property. And it is this type of preposterous lie that makes the community loath the LA Live development.

Downtownster is prepared to argue all of the ways that AEG specifically benefited from the publicity stunt of having the memorial service for Michael Jackson at Staple’s Center. But is this really necessary? Isn’t it enough that on a non-event night LA Live is so dead that a bowling ball could roll through it, not only not hitting a single person, but not being noticed any more than a tree falling in the middle of woods. Downtownster warned several months ago that the lack of use of the public space at LA Live for the benefit of the local community would be a gathering storm that would eventually sink the project—sticking the community for 1.4 million, is the equivalent of taking the bucket meant for bailing water out of a ship and lowering it into the ocean, filling it, and then dumping the water onto the already sinking vessel.

True, LA Live is filled with credit worthy tenants that have signed long term leases, so management might think that there is no reason to care about the community, but really, if downtownster was a tenant our lawyers would already be taking a good look at our lease and all of the representations in it. The same way the city should not only be handing AEG the bill for their Michael Jackson extravaganza, but should be doing some serious oversight of LA Live and reporting to the community as to whether or not AEG is upholding all of its covenants with respect to the two hundred and seventy million dollar tax credit it received. Because any company that would stick the taxpayers for 1.4 million…would probably…Well you can fill in the blanks.

One final thought. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for all of my forty-four years and my family arrived here almost a hundred years ago—I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. If a company comes to our community and costs us money, maybe it’s time that a company such as this goes back to where it came from.

I hear Denver Colorado is a nice place.

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