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Michael Jackson's memorial -- what would LA taxpayers get for their money?

July 4, 2009 |  8:32 am

Michael Jackson, AEG, Staples, memorial service, public subsidy No. Nonononononononononono. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. No.

The city of Los Angeles is a half-billion dollars in the hole. Layoffs. Furloughs. Potholes unfilled, trees untrimmed. Animal services, the ethics commission, whack whack whack.

So why, why, in any rational universe, should the city of L.A. pick up the policing tab for Michael Jackson's obsequies at Staples Center?

For the Lakers' victory parade -- certainly a more civically significant event than the excesses that follow Jackson in death as they did in life -- the city found private donors because of the pushback of public opinion over subsidizing the athletic triumph of, as they say, millionaires working for billionaires.
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So why is there now any thought at all of dipping into a city fund for ''extraordinary events'' to subsidize this one -- which, if a ''public viewing'' becomes part of the memorial, will turn the whole thing into a Michael Jackson corpse carnival?

An earthquake is an extraordinary event. But Michael Jackson's family deciding, gee, let's invite the world (or at least something above 17,000 members of the world) to mourn our relative -- extraordinary to them, and to Jackson fans, certainly, but hardly enough to stick it to the taxpayers of LA.

Council member Jan Perry said the city would ''deeply appreciate'' any private citizen coming forward to pick up the tab. ``Any company, entity, individual who would have such great love, the city would welcome the support,” she told the New York Times.

I nominate the Jackson family to pay the bill, perhaps going halfsies with AEG, which owns Staples (and was the promoter on Jackson's planned comeback concerts). The Jackson estate stands to benefit enormously from this. The undoubted live, free, worldwide news coverage of the memorial, the frenzy of 10, 20, 30 times more fans clamoring outside than can possibly cram into Staples, will generate mind-boggling sales of MJ music. The Staples name will figure into every video clip.

So why should the Jacksons' private arrangement with Staples to commemorate the passing of a man who was almost pathologically averse in life to the public's gaze become, in the end, a public burden?

Hint: that's a rhetorical question.

Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

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