There were those who argued that the Jackson memorial might have brought more money into the local economy than it cost.Well, if it was such a benefit for downtown businesses, why shouldn't they pay the $1.4 million that it reportedly cost the city. And how silly is it for these city boosters to twinkle about how wonderful it was for the city to be "branded" as the pop capital of the world? The city already hosts all sorts of movie and music awards shows such as the Oscars and Grammys. If people didn't already think of it as a pop capital after years of those shows, a one-off memorial service isn't going to change their view. And doesn't the symbolism of it being a memorial for someone who died have just as much a possibility of communicating the message that this is the place where pop dies?
Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said his group estimated that the memorial brought about $4 million to local businesses in the form of food sales, parking, miscellaneous shopping and hotel stays.
"We're a center of celebrity," he said. "You have to be able to deal with it. You have to look at the positives and the negatives. Yes, you have some expenses, but if you handle the whole thing in a smooth fashion, which they did, you get a real positive."
Carol Schatz, president and chief executive of the Central City Assn., said the memorial was actually a mixed bag, economically.
"All the downtown hotels were close to being full as a result of the service," she said. "However, it did not spill over to the restaurants, especially on the day of the service, because so many businesses fearing these enormous multitudes had their employees stay home."
Still, she said the memorial was "worth its weight in gold" for the attention it brought to "the new downtown that we've created in the last 10 years."
Taking that argument a step further, Joel Kotkin, presidential fellow at Chapman University in Orange, said that Jackson's death and memorial helped "brand" the city and would have lasting economic value.
"If there is a positive," he said, "it's that it sort of reconfirmed L.A.'s status as a capital of pop music, celebrity, and lunacy. . . . That's infinitely more important than a one-day event."
If I were still a resident of Los Angeles, I'd be plenty ticked off that the city pays the bill for private events such as the memorial or the awards shows.
For years, the city has absorbed thousands of dollars in costs for neighborhood block parties, farmers' markets, 10K races, church fairs and parades.It is one thing for the city to pay for a church fair or parade, but there seems no reason why the awards shows should get waivers from the city. They make plenty of money from the TV broadcasts of these shows that showcase a bunch of multi-millionaires. They should be able to find a way to pony up for their own narcissistic celebrations of themselves. Just as the Jackson estate or all those celebrities who rushed out to LA to celebrate the deceased could have paid for the additional costs.
It has also subsidized larger events such as the Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre, which got a $410,000 waiver from the City Council in January, or the Grammy Awards at Staples Center, which was granted a $124,163 waiver earlier this year.
UPDATE: And to add to all LA Mayor Villaraigosa's other woes, there is this story of his trying to literally ride in Kobe Bryant's parade.
Bryant, according to multiple news reports, was in a huff because Villaraigosa wanted to hop on the victory float alongside Bryant during last week's downtown victory parade.Come on! The guy is a politician, and not a particularly popular one. Of course, he's going to try to pimp your popularity, Kobe.
Bryant, whose ego clash with Shaquille O'Neal forced the center out of Los Angeles, apparently did not want to share the spotlight with Villaraigosa, who had considered running for governor. Villaraigosa wanted a photo op with Bryant, but Bryant refused to get on the float if Villaraigosa was there.
According to a report at www.nbclosangeles.com, Kobe was witnessed saying, "I'm not going to let him pimp my popularity!"