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The Politics of Michael Jackson's Memorial

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It was the celebrity story of the year, probably even the cultural story of the year. But politics couldn't help but intrude as well on Michael Jackson's death and memorial, mostly over that all-important political question: who's footing the bill?

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Our extremely cash strapped city is looking at nearly $4 million in bills connected with yesterday's Michael Jackson death circus. Our new city attorney Carmen Trutanich thinks that just isn't right. From the L.A. Times:

Trutanich told the City Council he was investigating how the city ended up on the hook for police costs surrounding the memorial. He assured the council that his new management team was going to find out how the city got into the position of providing support for the event and how it could recoup some of the money....

Before the event, L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine said AEG, the entertainment company that produced the memorial and was handling Jackson's comeback, should pay the city for the costs it incurred. Councilwoman Jan Perry suggested the Jackson family make a contribution.

Mayor Villaraigosa's office, meanwhile, is asking Michael's fans to kick in some moolah to help defray the costs.

Ron Kaye's great L.A. news and politics blog has been ginning up Michael memorial expense outrage, here and here. Some quotes:

AEG stands to make millions on this event, had a $17 million insurance policy on Michael Jackson and received millions of dollars in tax breaks from the city....

The most incompetent and irresponsible statement [city councilwoman] Jan Perry made at the press conference on Friday was this: "Perry said the cost of police protection for "extraordinary" events like the memorial is built into the Police Department's budget, but she still solicited help for "incremental costs." Does she not know LA is in a financial crisis? Not one politician has had the courage or leadership to speak out for the taxpayers of LA and say this is not right.

And:

Councilman Dennis Zine told a meeting of San Fernando Valley Republicans Tuesday night that Perry was "kept out of the loop" in the decision-making process that led to the city's decision that providing around-the-clock police security on overtime during the long July 4 weekend and extensive planning for a massive crowd outside Staples for Tuesday's Memorial Service.

He accused AEG, owner of Staples and promoter of Jackson's planned revival tour, of hyping claims that hundreds of thousands of Michael Jackson fans would show up as part of its strategy of profiteering from the King of Pop's death. In fact, the 3,000 cops on hand -- a third of the LAPD force -- outnumbered the fans.

See Trutanich stand up for the L.A. taxpayer before the City Council:

Much, much more KCET coverage of Michael mania and the memorial

(Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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