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Criticism heightened over taxpayer funds being used for Lakers parade [Updated]

June 15, 2009 |  1:46 pm


The Los Angeles police officers' union isn't happy with the compromise the city struck with the Lakers to share the costs of Wednesday's parade celebrating the team's world championship victory.

Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the city should not be paying for the parade at a time when workers are facing layoffs and forced furloughs.

Both the team and the city will kick in about $1 million each for the festivities, which for the first time includes the significant cost of renting the Coliseum. The Lakers worked with city officials to keep costs down, including ruling out a weekend celebration or a longer parade, according to Tim Harris, the Lakers’ senior vice president for business operations and chief marketing officer. 

The city will pay for police, transportation and general staff, said Matt Szabo, spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

[Updated at 1:42 p.m.: Responding to the criticism, Villaragoisa said this afternoon that he is seeking private donations to cover most, if not all, of the city's $1-million contribution. Speaking on KTLA-TV Channel 5, the mayor said he has already raised "several hundred thousand dollars" from private donors whose names he did not provide. "We are going to have a parade," the mayor said.]

"At a time of financial crisis, when the public expects -- and quite frankly should demand -- city leaders to be good stewards of every tax dollar, it is foolish for elected officials to favor spending 1 million tax dollars on a three-hour parade," Weber said in a statement. "We have great hopes that the NBA and the Lakers, which made millions during the playoffs, will step up and help fund this celebratory civic event. Everyone loves a parade, but we feel strongly in this case, the Lakers or other private funds should pay for it."

The mayor said Sunday that to not hold a parade “is untenable,” even as city officials have been meeting behind closed doors to find hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts.

The $1-million cost to the city has also come under criticism from some L.A. Now readers.

"Dear Mayor, I understand that you are in a difficult position in that you have tough decisions to make, but why would you agree to pay $1 million for the Laker parade when we are in such difficult economic times?" reader Lena wrote. I do want to state for the record, I am a HUGE LAKER FAN, but unlike many of your employees who are having their work days reduced, I am fortunate enough to be able to make ends meet."

-- Shelby Grad and Amanda Covarrubias