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Villaraigosa says only L.A. should pay Jackson memorial costs, slams city aides' website appeal for donations

July 13, 2009 | 11:51 am

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said this morning that it was the city’s responsibility to provide police protection and crowd control for the memorial of pop star Michael Jackson last week and that no one else should pay the cost.

The mayor, who had been on vacation in South Africa during the event, said he disagreed with his staff’s decision to put up a website requesting public donations to help cover the city’s cost.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” the mayor told reporters during a visit to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. 

Villaraigosa said Los Angeles is a large metropolitan city where major events occur routinely, and that the city is obligated to protect public safety. He added that no one would have expected New York or Chicago to ask others to donate for basic city services during a major event, and said he is not going to ask AEG, the owner of the Staples Center, to either pay or raise money to offset the city’s expenses. 

Last week, city officials estimated that the memorial cost the city $1.4 million -- with $1.1 million directed toward police equipment and overtime costs. Several City Council members have called for a full accounting of the costs and new policies to govern the city’s response and financial obligations for extraordinary events. 

-- Phil Willon at L.A. City Hall