Tuesday's memorial service for Michael Jackson cost the cash-strapped city of Los Angeles $1.4 million, a figure that includes paying for more than 3,000 police officers (nearly one-third of the entire force), trash pickup, other sanitation and traffic control.
Despite fears that more than 1 million unticketed fans would descend on the city and gather outside the Staples Center to be near the event, most reports had the crowd in the vicinity of the arena at just a few thousand. According to the Los Angeles Times, the city, which is $530 million in debt, is not likely to defer much of that cost through a PayPal donation site set up for public donations, which has collected only $17,000 to date.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office said that low figure was caused by "frequent and prolonged server crashes" on the site due to a huge rush of traffic Tuesday morning, and then another crash that took the site offline for another 12 hours on Tuesday evening and again for long periods on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich told CNN that taxpayers should not be on the hook for a private event during a time when city workers are being furloughed or laid off due to the financial crisis. During the NBA's celebration for the Los Angeles Lakers last month, the city called in 2,000 police at a cost of $2 million, which was mostly repaid by the Lakers and private donations.
But there could be a bright side for the city. One economist told the Times that the massive influx of media from all over the world and others in town for the event likely brought $4 million into the city in the form of food sales, parking, shopping and hotel stays.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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