No other politician in town has spoken up for raves like city Councilman Bernard Parks has. In his role as a member of the Coliseum Commission, which runs the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena, he has been an outspoken advocate of the ecstasy-fueled parties that happen four times a year at the venues.
“These are legitimate, revenue-producing concerts that are mainstream,” he said at the commission meeting last week.
Now his pro-rave words are being used against him as he defends his 8th District City Council seat against challenger Forescee Hogan-Rowles.
In a statement Tuesday Hogan-Rowles called on Parks to block June's controversial Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum. Last year's event saw 60, mostly drug-related arrests, more than 200 medical emergencies, and the subsequent death of a 15-year-old girl who apparently took ecstasy to experience the DJ-driven festival.
Some area leaders, including L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and commission member Rick Caruso, a rumored mayoral hopeful, have questioned whether the events should be held on public property.
Now Hogan-Rowles, who is mounting an uphill if not steam-gathering battle against Parks with the backing of the powerful L.A. police union and the county Federation of Labor, has also lined up against the parties.
“As a city council member I would expect that he would stand up against the raves,” she told the Weekly Tuesday.
“I believe the people in the neighborhoods, we know what's going on with them — it's very disruptive, it's unacceptable, and it's time we had a leader who stands up against raves.”
Bernard Parks Jr., taking the role of campaign spokesman, told the Weekly that he was surprised to see her opposition to the parties since she had not shown up at any of the Coliseum Commission meetings where they were discussed.
“She wasn't there,” he said. ” … She's been M.I.A. since the last election when we beat her.”
“Knowing that we have a weak opponent, I'm not surprised she's trying to grab at anything she can get,” Parks said.
Hogan-Rowles is CEO of Community Financial Resource Center near USC. She said the organization's parking lot is donated to the LAPD so it can use it as a command post during the raves and that, as such, she's seen the effects the events have on the community.
She says during some events police tell her office to leave as early as 2 p.m. to avoid the crowds. And she says she's received reports of drug use and music that can be heard as far west as South La Brea Avenue.
“Neighbors in the vicinity of the L.A. Coliseum want the Electric Daisy Carnival stopped. Requiring rave promoters to hire a staff of doctors to respond to illegal drug overdose emergencies is not the answer. Last year's rave-related drug death only underscores the seriousness of the problem with rave events.”
Parks says that ravers “may come there to do drugs but it's not the only place they do them … It complements their drug use if that's what you want to say.”
But he says the number one issue her can be put in one word: Jobs.
“We don't have a huge outpouring in our community asking council member Parks
to stop the electric music,” he said. “What our community wants is jobs.”
“We know this brings 4,000 jobs into the area.”
The L.A. city election is March 8.