Never thought we'd see the day when raves were an issue in an L.A. City Council race, but that they are -- especially this week, after the Los Angeles Times reported that a public employee who helped manage the L.A. Coliseum also worked for a rave promoter who was purported to be on thin ice with Coliseum officials.
Turns out Todd DeStefano was also a campaign contributor to Councilman Bernard Parks, who has been the biggest proponent of controversial raves at the publicly owned Coliseum and its sister venue, the Sports Arena.
Parks' challenger in next month's election, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, asked on Wednesday that he give back the money. She also challenged him to ...
... give back a $250 campaign contribution from Pasquale Rotella, the CEO of Insomniac Events, which puts on the annual Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum that saw one related ecstasy death for a 15-year-old raver, 200 medical emergencies and 60 mostly drug related arrests last year.
City Ethics Commission records show that DeStefano gave Parks' campaign the maximum contribution for an individual, $500.
As well as being the events manager at the Coliseum, DeStefano worked for Insomniac during that event and continued to work on its payroll as the promoter came before the Coliseum Commission to seek its nod for next year's event, which it got.
Parks sits on the commission and was its most vocal advocate for raves, comparing the injuries and drug use to those seen at other mass events such as Lakers championship celebrations and rock concerts.
The Los Angeles Times reported that DeStefano handled security for last year's EDC, one of its most-criticized aspects. Some people were seriously injured when crowds traversed barriers en route to the field level, IDs went unchecked, and promised mobile security cameras weren't installed.
The ecstasy-fueled event was such a mess that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa questioned whether they should be held at all on public property.
On Wednesday Steve Barkan, a spokesman for Hogan-Rowles, stated:
"Bernard Parks puts the interests of his campaign donors ahead of the safety of teenagers, and ahead of the concerns of coliseum neighbors .Time and again, Bernard Parks has proven that campaign money counts - from ... concert promoters who tolerate the use of narcotics at public stadiums."
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Bernard Parks Jr., the campaign spokesman for his father, told the Weekly that he will not be giving the contributions back. He claimed that some of Hogan-Rowles' campaign contributors include an ex-felon and "predatory lenders who have prayed on our community."
"We won't judge her on her donors who are ex-convicts and predatory lenders if she doesn't judge our donors," he said.
He added that Electric Daisy Carnival does $33 million in revenue and creates 4,000 much-needed jobs.
"You've known the council member long enough to know $250 would not make him go one way or the other," Parks Jr. said. "There's not a dollar amount that would make him go one way or another."