And, I repeat: WTF?

By now, perhaps you have heard that Michael Jackson died.  If you have not, I would like to know what rock you have been under and whether there is any room there for me.

Los Angeles, the city that for better or worse I currently call home, is hosting a memorial service for the King of Pop today.  People have been going slightly insane trying to score tickets for this thing, which is expected to draw a hell of a lot more people than will fit into the Staples Center.  There are overflow plans and there are security plans, the second of which will be funded by the City of Los Angeles.

Now, I couldn’t give two craps and a hula hoop about Jackson when he was alive, other than to be sad at what a talented child turned into, but I’ll tell you what I do care about.  The Los Angeles Unified School District.  And the Fire Department.  And the Police Department.  And [insert here any one of numerous public services funded by my tax dollars].

Los Angeles, along with the rest of the State of California, is completely broke.  Bankrupt.  Belly-up, busted, in the red, and gone to the wall.  The city is struggling, cutting back on essential services, and raining pink slips on teachers like confetti.  And we’re paying for the fucking security at a memorial service for a singer?

Once again, Los Angeles proves it knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Here’s another blogger on this topic.

19 responses to “And, I repeat: WTF?

  1. We had/have a similar problem in Boston. The Tall Ships (?) event, which is a big crowd draw and a tradition here, almost didn’t happen this year because Boston just couldn’t afford the security. The mayor put his foot down, and the vendor came up with a way to pay for it.

    I’ve never been, but I’m assuming that part of the willingness to do so was that they were still going to find a way to turn a profit. I’m guessing that the city of Los Angeles agreed to let the event take place because they thought that it might help generate some revenue (which is wrong in a couple of ways). Yes, it is a big slap in the face when public safety and education are chronically underfunded.

  2. I also do not understand people’s obsession with this. Sure the guy was talented, sure it’s never a good thing when someone dies, but seriously? Wasting all of this time, energy, and resources is ridiculous. Cnn.com had a breaking news story yesterday. Wanna know what it was? That Mariah Carey is performing at the memorial service today. Have people forgotten that there are still soldiers dying in the Middle East, among the thousands of other news-worthy stories? I’m sick of hearing about it.

  3. lifeineden

    Exactly. And thus I am returning to the east coast.

  4. I think the whole thing is sort of a sad testament to Michael Jackson’s life. Not that I know the first thing about him, but he seemed sort of private and reclusive, while everyone around him wanted him in the spotlight. Even his funeral is turning out that way, and at the expense of taxpayers who can’t afford it. It’s just all so sad.

  5. I’m not agreeing with this reason, but here is why the city is picking up the tab on this.

    Tax revenue generated will exceed the cost of the security.

    There will be ~100,000 people coming into the city for this event, all of whom will be spending a lot of money on the event between souvenirs, food, drink, parking, gas, etc etc. All of these will provide revenue to the city through various taxes (including fees already paid by the venue to the city for events in the first place).

    The hope is that the crowd that i attracted will spend, spend, spend, and especially that a lot of wealthy people from outside of the city bring in much needed tourism revenue as well.

    Could the city have made *more* money had they required the venue to provide security themselves? Probably, but this is the basic reason for paying for this type of security publicly. It’s the same reason for public financing of business infrastructure in the first place.

  6. Yeeeah. I would not want to be there today.

  7. You can only hope that Chris M is correct and that the city has actually calculated the incremental tax revenue they can reasonably expect from this “event.” Given their spending and budgeting skillz, I’d question whether they aren’t just making a giant assumption.

    Even so, your sentiment is right on and I don’t blame you for being seriously annoyed. MJ was broke, the city is broke, the state is broke, and the country…going for broke.

    Today’s display is actually a good illustration of what we as a country value. Pink slips for teachers and a circus for Jackson that the city thinks it’ll make it’s money back on.

    You invest in what you value.

  8. Sing it, sister.

    I just put up my own rant about the debacle – but I didn’t touch on the city’s fiscal responsibility angle. You put it perfectly.

  9. I’m standing on my chair, whooping it up like Arsenio.

  10. I believe as Chris stated, that the city probably felt like they would make more than what they are spending on revenue from all of the out of town guests….. Even if the city itself doesnt earn enough tax revenue to recoup all of its financial outlay, I would imagine the hope is that the cities businesses will get a boost. I can certainly see your point, in that its hard to see money spent when there is none to spend, because that certainly has been my argument with government in general….. but I think its likely the city saw a way to make $$ for the local economy.

  11. I agree. That’s why I was glad my city lost out on its olympic bid.

  12. I seriously doubt they will recoup this money. It is a ONE day event. It is not providing a lasting boost to the economy. If they want to use tax money to bring in business, find something that will be longer lasting and will provide quality jobs, not opportunities to sell trinkets under the table.

    However, I am sure that is their rationale.

  13. A-freakin’-MEN. It seems to me that whomever paid for the Staples Center ought to be ponying up for the security details.

    But I’m still bitter about the standstill traffic on the freeway this morning.

  14. Michael Jackson is dead?

  15. Government spending is wasteful spending. Always. Not one of those nut cases in charge has any idea how to run anything effectively or efficiently. Chris & Melanie may have a point about the city making money with all the influx of people, but I seriously doubt that the idiots in charge even thought about this.

  16. how much did it cost the state of CA to bring MJ to trial and lose? i actually have no opinion on his guilt or innocence on those charges but…

    someone else should definitely be picking up the tab on the security.

  17. She Started It

    That’s terrible. And so typical of most urban city governments, unfortunately.