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Rocking the Boat: Trutanich in Battle Mode Against AEG

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At the Michael Jackson Memorial | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

A big fight has been brewing between City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and AEG, which owns L.A. Live and the Staples Center in downtown. Earlier this summer, Trutanich came to a city council meeting and announced that there were "civil and criminal aspects" with tax payer money being used for the Michael Jackson Memorial. He was mum in public about said crimes, but AEG President Tim Leiweke alleges the City Attorney has been bullying the company around, according to a big story in the L.A. Times today.

After Leiweke heard there might be some crimes around the Jackson memorial produced by AEG, he requested a one-on-one coffee at Starbucks. Trutanich showed up with staff and security. From Leiweke's point of view: "I said 'Nuch, I thought we were just going to have a quiet get-to-know-each-other.' He kept his glasses on the whole time and just simply said, let me make sure you understand this straight. I am going back to the original City Charter and I am going to enforce it. And in this particular case, I believe you have done something wrong here, and you don't know what you don't know."

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Trutanich wants $6 million, but the city's financial advisor says only $1.3 million of city resources was spent. "I wouldn't say it was extortion. I would say it's a bully tactic," Leiweke said. "That's the way I would put it. He's trying to bully us. And he's done it on three different occasions."

Trutanich seems to be a constitutionalist of sorts--he refers back to the city charter and sticks to what it says in point of view. "I'm serious about enforcing this ordinance. I'm as serious as a heart attack," he explained in reference to another little controversy he recently stirred by threatening to throw City Councilmember Jan Perry in jail over signage on the new movie theatre in downtown.

Whether Trutanich is right or wrong, he's definitely rocking the boat, something many people believe needed to happen when they voted for him. "AEG has been very connected with the politics in the city of Los Angeles. Trutanich is breaking, shall we say, that sweetheart relationship that existed," noted Councilman Dennis Zine. AEG supported Trutanich's opponent Jack Weiss in the election.