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Los Angeles Mayor Says City Should Pay For Michael Jackson's Memorial

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is back this week after a nine-day vacation in South Africa, says the city should pick up the estimated $1.4 million cost from Michael Jackson's memorial.

This after some city officials asked fans for donations and called on the Jackson family or AEG, the company that owns Staples Center, to pay for police protection, traffic control and other services rendered at the event.

"This is a world-class city, and we provide fire and police protection. Period. The idea that we would charge the family for a funeral is nonsensical," said Villaraigosa.

He also criticized his staff for launching a website that asked fans for donations to help pay the deficit-ridden city's costs. The website raised a poultry $35,000 until it was taken down.

"I thought it was ridiculous, and that was the word I used when I called my staff from South Africa," he said.

Villaraigosa said the news release sent by his office last week, which quoted him as saying fans should donated to "give Michael the safe, orderly and respectful memorial he deserves", wasn't approved by him and put through by his acting mayor when he was out of the country.

Meanwhile, AEG President Tim Leiweke isn't pleased with Councilman Dennis Zine for suggesting the company should have to pay for the service since it would profit after selling any footage from Jackson's rehearsals.

"It's a shame this man is taking advantage of this situation because he wants some free publicity," says Tim Leiweke. "We're still out of pocket roughly a half-million dollars. We did not make any money. We donated the arena at zero cost. We donated the Nokia Theatre at zero cost. We're not making any money off this."

July 14, 2009 |

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