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AEG: L.A. official sought $6M for tribute

October 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The owner of the Staples Center arena said the Los Angeles city attorney bullied and threatened him in an effort to recover millions of dollars the city spent to police last summer's Michael Jackson memorial. This isn't the first charge of bullying against City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry says he threatened to jail her if she tried to intervene in the contentious AEG battle over outside advertising, but Trutanich's office says they're just enforcing city laws.

Just three months into his tenure, the new city attorney is already being called a bully.

"If standing up for the charges is being a bully, I guess the charge applies," said Special Assistant City Attorney David Berger. "But since when does upholding the law make you a bully?"

Berger is talking about the city charter and says the bully accusations are coming from AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke.

Leiweke has reportedly accused Trutanich of trying to get AEG to pay the city $6 million for cost incurred during Michael Jackson's memorial.

AEG owns the Staples Center and the LA Live complex.

"Our city is in the hole financially, and all we're asking AEG to do is be fair with us and pay their fair share," Berger said.

But Berger says the real sore spot between AEG and the city attorney is L.A.'s new ban on off-site advertising.

Berger says businesses are allowed to post ads on their property as long as they advertise what is going on inside that establishment. Berger says AEG wants to sell their ad space to other companies.

"There is a law in place, a new ordinance that says no more off-site advertising and that is the way it's going to remain," said Berger. "And no amount of pressure is going to change this position."

Is that strict enforcement due to a Trutanich vendetta against AEG? Eyewitness News tried to interview a representative for AEG, but they did not respond.

However, in a published report, an AEG executive said that is the case because AEG backed Trutanich's opponent Jack Weiss in the last election.

Berger disagrees with the report.

Trutanich's office says AEG should help pay for at least part of the city's bill for Jackson's memorial, alleging AEG turned the tribute into a commercial event and sold the commercial rights for $60 million.