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AEG & Jackson Estate Agree to Pay L.A. Back for Funeral Costs

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Police control crowds at the Michael Jackson funeral in July 2009 | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

Nearly a year after the costly public funeral for Michael Jackson the costs incurred by the city of Los Angeles will be paid back, AEG and the Jackson Estate announced today. The issue last Summer became a controversy: Los Angeles was dealing with (and still is) a depleting budget and had just shelled out over a million dollars -- permits, street closures and mostly for a boat load of police -- for an international event that AEG eventually turned into a movie.

The company, along with the Estate of Michael Jackson, will donate $1 million to the city's general fund and $300,000 in cash and equipment donations to the Los Angeles Police Foundation.

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The donations appear to have put the issue to rest as L.A. leaders laud the move. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilmember Jan Perry all likened AEG to being a good corporate citizen.

“It was important to us that all parties agreed that this was not an obligation but a choice we believed was important to make at a time when thousands of City employees are being reduced,” said AEG President Tim Leiweke. “We appreciate and thank Mayor Villaraigosa, Jan Perry, Dennis Zine and the rest of the Council for their support which will now allow us to finally put this issue behind us.”

But Leiweke wanted to especially thank City Attorney Carmen Trutanich -- both had clashed head on about the issue last Summer. "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,” Leiweke said today.

Freshly elected to office, Trutanich in July said there appeared to be civil and criminal aspects to how taxpayer money was used for the funeral and claimed AEG owed the city $6 million. City analysts said the cost was actually $1.3 million.

Leiweke said the City Attorney was acting like a bully over the money, but Trutanich saw it differently. “If going after your money is being a bully, then I’m a bully; I have no problem doing that,” Trutanich said. “We wasted a lot of dough on the Michael Jackson memorial. We wasted a lot of money... I’m going to ask for what the city lost.”

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During the 2009 election, AEG supported Trutanich's opponent, former City Councilmember Jack Weiss.

Siding with Trutanich was Councilmember Dennis Zine, a former police officer. "AEG has been very connected with the politics in the city of Los Angeles," he said last year. "Trutanich is breaking, shall we say, that sweetheart relationship that existed."

Today, Zine seemed pleased. “My concerns regarding the events honoring Mr. Jackson’s memory have always been focused on the cost to the taxpayers of the City during these trying economic times and I applaud AEG for stepping up to the plate with this contribution," he said.

The $300,000 donation to the Police Foundation includes $90,000 previously contributed via the sale of suites at the Jackson memorial. The remaining $210,000 comes in the form of equipment, which includes scanners for officers patrolling skid row.