Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company that owns Staples Center, has decided to kick in $1 million for the city's $3.2 million in costs in helping the billionaire-controlled firm put on its memorial concert to honor the late Michael Jackson almost one year ago last summer. An announcement indicates that the estate of Michael Jackson is also behind the cash. It's not clear why the company, which we reported at one point had made a deal to cover the city of Los Angeles' costs, didn't go for the full $3.2 million originally indicated as the taxpayer bill for AEG's MJ extravaganza. According to the company's spin, an additional $300,000 — including $90,000 it already gave — would go to the L.A. Police Foundation.
We're not sure how you count money you already gave someone as part of a new donation announcement, but hey, that's probably why we're hundred-dollar-naires instead of billionaires like AEG owner like Phil Anschutz.
One million dollars will go to the city's general fund, according to an announcement made, of course, by CEO Tim Leiweke and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. (Because when you're shorting the city by $2 million, it's good to have a smiling mayor by your side).
According to AEG, the city had determined that police services, permits, sanitation and street closures cost the city $1.3 million, although previous estimates put the taxpayer bill for the memorial at $3.2 million and more.
“I applaud this team effort and thank everyone involved for doing what was best for the people and the City of Los Angeles,” said Villaraigosa (as he wiped the taste of corporate ass from his mouth). “Through the continued good corporate citizenship of AEG and the Michael Jackson Estate, we will be able to promote and support important civic events that hold so much meaning for the people of Los Angeles and bring us together as a city.”
Funny: Leiweke actually gave a special shout to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who at one point threatened to take criminal action against AEG for its failure to foot the bill for the affair: ” … Special thanks goes to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. Throughout this process, we have had the opportunity to develop a very positive relationship with him and his office which I am sure we will continue to call upon as we work together on additional issues facing our city in the coming years.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who has appeared to carry water for AEG on the issue, praised the company's leaders, saying “they have proved once again that they are conscientious corporate citizens who are committed to Los Angeles.”
As we've said before, the money's a drop in the bucket in terms of the larger city budget. And others have pointed out that in a global city like L.A., famous people die, and city services are needed when lots of folks come out to respect them.
But in this case, the city was experiencing its worst financial crisis in decades, and less police, firefighters and other public servants are on the street as a result. The memorial was a showcase, a concert and a preview of the Jackson concert documentary This Is It, in which AEG had a financial stake. It stoked publicity that benefited the firm, which ultimately profited from the movie.