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Bernard Parks' Office Owes L.A. Coliseum $40,000 For Fireworks Party: Councilman is a Critic of Venue's Shady Finances

Bernard Parks' Office Owes L.A. Coliseum $40,000 For Fireworks Party: Councilman is a Critic of Venue's Shady Finances
Kim Smith

Updated at the bottom with a response from Parks' office, which says its the city's bill, if there is a bill.

L.A. Coliseum officials are looking into a $40,000 bill left unpaid by the office of city Councilman Bernard Parks following one of his annual 4th of July community parties at the venue.

Documents outlining the outstanding debt were obtained last week by LA Weekly. Interim General Manager John Sandbrook told us, "The matter has been identified and is the subject of discussions with his [Parks'] office right now."

Parks has been a critic of Sanbrook (he has called for his ouster) and of the Coliseum's management in general.

The Coliseum has been a little shop of horrors in the last few years, with the Los Angeles Times unearthing revelations that the venue's technology manager directed some stadium business to his own side venture, that a top manager, Todd DeStefano, took more than $1.5 million from rave promoters who put on events there, and that a former G.M. got a car from the Coliseum.

The venue is publicly run buy the nine-member Coliseum Commission, on which Parks sits. While the councilman has had critical words for the way the venue was operated day-to-day, he was also an ardent defender of the all-night raves that first brought scrutiny to the complex last year.

Documents we obtained show that a 2004 fireworks display produced by the company Pyro Spectacular for Parks' "Annual Exposition Park 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza" was billed to DeStefano, in his capacity as venue manager, in the amount of $40,000.

(Parts of the park, as well as the entire, adjacent Sports Arena, are part of the Coliseum complex).

An online invite for the 2011 version of the event says:

This Exposition Park 4th of July Extravaganza is being brought to you by: The Office of Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH, A Better L.A, Unity One, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and the California African-American History Museum.

A memo from the Coliseum's interim director of finance, Gregory Hellmold, states:

... Our records show that we did not receive $40,000 owed to us from the City of Los Angeles-Councilmember Parks' office for the 4th of July event held in 2004.

An accounting manager, the memo says, "wrote-off the receivable in 2010 ... due to the age of the receivable."

But it sounds to us like there will be some payback: "The interim cheif financial officer is in discussion with his office about the matter," Sandbrook told the Weekly.

We have a call into Parks' office seeking his response. We also sought comment from the office of city Controller Wendy Greuel, who is auditing the Coliseum's finances as we speak.

[Update at 4:30 p.m.]: Parks' chief of staff, Bernard Parks Jr., told us this afternoon that the office was made to believe the Coliseum would swallow the cost as part of its sponsorship of the event.

We believe that the former general manager [the controversial and retired Pat Lynch] had told the [city's] chief legislative analyst he would absorb the costs. We're still of the belief it was absorbed. That was the agreement. The Coliseum sort of acts as a sponsor, and we do things a little different every year. The plan was for them to absorb the cost.

Asked if the office would pony up the cash if asked to by the Coliseum officials, Parks said the office would wait to hear from them and then decide.

[Added]: Parks added in a follow-up conversation that, if it was determined that the money is outstanding, "it's the city that owes" and not his father's office.

"It's a city sponsored event," he said. "It doesn't come out of my office account."

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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