Funny story. In 2011, when we broke the news that an annual 4th of July fireworks show at Exposition Park owed $40,000 to the taxpayer-owned L.A. Coliseum, the office of City Councilman Bernard Parks tried to distance itself from the event.
“It's a city-sponsored event,” Bernard Parks, Jr., his father's chief of staff, told us in 2011. He disputed our contention that it was Councilman Parks' office that owed the cash.
But when new city Councilman Curren Price appeared to want to take over the party recently, because redistricting put it within the boundaries of his own constituency, Councilman Parks blew a gasket:
He sent out a press release this week stating, among other things, the event was something “he founded nearly 12 years ago.”
At the heart of Councilman Parks' complaint is his contention that Price met with KJLH radio and gang-intervention group Unity One, which had traditionally worked with the City Hall leader to put on the shindig, in order to “go around us,” according to what Parks, Jr. told the Weekly.
Price's office doesn't dispute this. But it said in a statement that Price would have rather worked together with Parks than had this very public spat. “To suggest that there is any wrongdoing here is uncalled for,” he said.
Yesterday the L.A. Coliseum Commission, which manages the property where the event takes place each summer, voted to have staffers draft a proposal that would allow both councilmen to co-host the festivities.
Although Parks' office is now claiming ownership, back in 2011, Parks, Jr. told us the money for the fireworks “was not coming out of our office account.”
And in reaction to another story about the fireworks party, Parks Jr. said the “Extravaganza” was organized by nonprofit organizations, with City Hall (and not his father's office) ponying up for the fireworks production specifically.
Interestingly, in his rant this week, Councilman Parks said his political foes embarked on an attempt in 2011 to “stick Parks with a bogus $40,000 fireworks bill manufactured by the commission.”
It was the Weekly that unearthed a Coliseum memo stating that the costs of fireworks production, $40,000, were never paid, and that the venue had written off the loss in 2010.
Parks also accused his onetime fellow Coliseum commissioners (he's no longer on that board) of trying last year to “link Parks' Fireworks show to the financial scandal at the Coliseum that broke in 2011, [sic] involving electronic music promoters” by leaking emails last year.
LA Weekly broke the story of how two major rave promoters using the Coliseum and sister Sports Arena ended up giving Parks' office a familiar sounding $40,000 in 2008 for fireworks. It was published in late 2011, and last year emails leaked to the Los Angeles Times reconfirmed it (among other things).
The promoters were shut out of the public venues after the ecstasy overdose death of a 15-year-old girl who had sneaked into one of the electronic dance music festivals in 2010. Controversy ensued as the rave organizers lobbied to stay, with Parks' blessing.
The story of the promoters' $40,000 gifts was published in 2011. It didn't break, as Parks' rant suggests, last year.
That $40,000, by the way, might explain why Parks, a guy who had never been to a rave in his life, was so adamant in defending them as wholesome, family events (really – he compared them to sports match-ups and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl), which even your staunchest EDM warrior would have to laugh at.