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L.A. mayor says city should foot the bill for Michael Jackson's memorial service: Is that fair?

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Antonio-Villaraigosa_l Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems to have settled the weeks-long debate over whether the cash-strapped city should cover the $1.4 million tab for providing public safety services for Michael Jackson’s televised memorial service last week. According to the L.A. Times, Villaraigosa told reporters the city won’t try to recoup any of the cost from AEG, the company that owns the Staples Center (where the service was held), and called the donation website set up by his staff “ridiculous.” 

Commenters on the Times‘ blog decried, among other things, the city’s perceived “kissing up to the rich and famous.” But Villaraigosa’s basic message seemed, to me, to be more about pride: It’s Los Angeles’ job to handle major events just like any other big city, and L.A. doesn’t need your charity, thank you very much. He’s right; that is what municipalities are for. That said, it doesn’t seem like it’d hurt to take donations — or for AEG or a well-heeled Jackson friend or two to go ahead and help the public cover that considerable tab. Many think of Hollywood when they think of Los Angeles, but there are also some pretty seriously downtrodden neighborhoods that will only deteriorate further in light of the city’s — and the state’s, incidentally — cash flow problems. Desperate times, people.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Should L.A. just suck it up and foot the bill? Should it take donations?

More Michael Jackson memorial service:
Michael Jackson memorial cost L.A. $1.4 million
Will you pony up for Michael Jackson’s memorial service?
Michael Jackson memorial: Ken Tucker’s review
Michael Jackson memorial: Who was that singing “Heal the World”?
Michael Jackson memorial: Which performance moved you most?

addCredit(“Officers: John Shearer/Getty Images; Villaraigosa: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos”)

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