Thursday, October 22, 2009

LA TIMES: AEG president says Trutanich tried to 'bully' company on Jackson costs (But AEG May Have Been Running Illegal Operation On City Streets)

Here's an excerpt from LA Times about Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich and AEG LIVE/Tim Leiweke.

What's interesting here, is how CM Jan Perry, Leiweke and the Times are orchestrating a media attack against Nuch. It's fun to watch. But don't believe everything you read.

And the Medical Marijuana community ain't too happy with Nuch, already. Maybe we can still call the City Attorney "Rocky" cause that's how his term is going to go. Nuch sure doesn't help himself. He sure does rub people the wrong way. But, gotta be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water with Nuch. But MAN...the perceptions ain't looking too good out there. (KFI is now running a top of hour news piece on Nuch's perceived bullying.)

Tim Leiweke claims the city attorney wanted the Staples Center owner to pay $6 million for services L.A. provided during the pop singer's memorial.

Tim Leiweke

AEG President Tim Leiweke says he sees political motives behind City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's demands regarding the cost of the Michael Jackson memorial.

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich tried to pressure the owner of Staples Center to pay $6 million for city services provided during the Michael Jackson memorial, saying he would "go after you guys" if the money was not paid, the company's top executive alleged Wednesday.

"I wouldn't say it was extortion. I would say it's a bully tactic. That's the way I would put it. He's trying to bully us. And he's done it on three different occasions," AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke told The Times' editorial board Wednesday.

His accusations escalate a growing public feud between the brash new city attorney and one of L.A.'s most influential corporations.

On the one side is the company that owns two of the city's most prominent entertainment venues, Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex. On the other is a city attorney who took office in July and has quickly developed a reputation for aggressive and sometimes unorthodox actions. Trutanich recently threatened to throw City Councilwoman Jan Perry in jail and file criminal charges against the city's top building-and-safety official if they violated his directives regarding AEG. [HOW CAN LA TIMES KEEP MAKING THIS CLAIM? JUST BECAUSE PERRY IS SAYING SO? CAN SHE EVEN PASS A DRUG TEST FOR CRACK? IT'S NOT LIKE HE SAID IT IN A MEETING, OR WITH WITNESSES. NUCH KNOWS SHE IS HIS CLIENT AS COUNCILMEMBER, AND HE KNOWS HE CANNOT ARREST HIS OWN CLIENT. Jan Perry is running for mayor and she is already campaigning against her perceived potential challenger. LOL!]

Trutanich said he's enforcing the law and looking out for the interests of Los Angeles taxpayers.

But Leiweke said he sees political motives. Leiweke is a major ally of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and both backed Trutanich's opponent in the bitter race for city attorney earlier this year.

Since taking office, Trutanich has blocked sign permits for the company's new downtown movie theater and attempted to delay the city's plans to lease billboard space to AEG at the Convention Center.

Last April, Leiweke hosted a campaign fundraiser at Staples Center for Trutanich's opponent, Jack Weiss. "I can only guess . . . that part of this is that we were on the wrong side of that election," Leiweke said. [Good job, Tim! Marketing Warfare 101! That DOES plant the seed that this is political payback for backing the other guy. I'M NOT SAYING THAT'S WHAT IT IS, OR ISN'T. BUT I'M A MARKETING STRATEGY GUY, AND I THINK THAT HURTS NUCH, PERCEPTUALLY IN THIS WITH YOUR AVERAGE NON-INSIDER READER.]

Leiweke contends the feud began in earnest after Trutanich appeared before the City Council in July and announced there were "criminal aspects" to his investigation into how much the Jackson memorial cost the city. [Perhaps Nuch is trying to be diplomatic (believe it or not) and give Tim a chance to "cough it up" because maybe Nuch doesn't want to have to open up the "whole can of worms" that could have a lot of collateral damage/he doesn't really want to "go there." Otherwise, Nuch is bluffing...and I don't think he would completely bluff. So he PROBABLY has something, but it may be kinda messy -- or may require a lot to see all the way through...BUT...if you push him...the NUCH DOGG will unleash!]

Concerned that AEG was being accused of wrongdoing, Leiweke called and asked for a one-on-one meeting with Trutanich at the Starbucks at L.A. Live. Trutanich showed up with staff members, including two security officers, and it went downhill from there, Leiweke said.

"I said 'Nuch, I thought we were just going to have a quiet get-to-know-each-other,' " Leiweke said. "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." [Again, maybe Nuch is trying to get him to cough up some cash, before we have to do it the hard (more disruptive) way?]

Trutanich requested that AEG reimburse the city for its costs, Leiweke said.

"And I said, what's your idea of settlement? And he said, $6 million. And I said, where did you get that number from? He said, that's the number," Leiweke said, recalling the meeting.

"He made it very clear, either you settle or I am going to go after you guys. I said, 'Fine. I'm sorry this didn't work out.' " [AGAIN, now we have to go off of what Tim says and the fact that LA Times is working in cahoots with people like Perry and AEG. IT'S A HELL OF A LOT OF FUN TO WATCH. But you kind of need the same grain of salt when you read the Times and you do when you read The Globe.]

According to City Hall's top financial analyst, the memorial cost the city an estimated $1.3 million for police overtime, installing portable toilets, redirecting traffic and providing other city services. Leiweke said he had offered to help defray a portion of the $1.3 million.

Dennis Zine argued the memorial cost the city millions more, including the salaries of all the police officers and other city employees deployed for the event, not just overtime. AEG and the Jackson estate arranged the memorial and "stand to make millions" in a movie gleaned from video of Jackson's rehearsals for his comeback tour, Zine said. [JEALOUS, DENNIS? Me, too. I know you're not that smart, but unfortunately, that's the way it works in America. You can make millions of rehearsal footage if people will buy tickets for it. Sounds like you want them to simply make a charitable donation. If Nuch has evidence that the law was broken with the event and the money paid for police and services, that's one thing. But if there was no law requiring permits for an event like this at the time (which I doubt there was, since they tried to pass a new one after this event), then it sounds like you are asking for nothing more than a charitable donation.]

Now, the conflict between AEG and Trutanich is centering on the upcoming Jackson documentary, "This Is It." The film will premiere Tuesday at the grand opening of AEG's new theater at L.A. Live, but Trutanich has blocked the company from erecting on the building wall signs advertising the movie. [I'm not sure it's such a good idea to strip away the Hollywood marketing and image, Nuch? I have to see the location, specifically by Olympic and the 110 where the signage would be. But this is Hollywood and a tourist attraction. Would you tear down the neon in Vegas?]

Two weeks ago, the city attorney warned the city's interim general manager of building and safety, Raymond Chan, that he could face criminal prosecution if he issued permits for six signs at the theater.

Perry said Trutanich also vowed to throw her in jail if she tried to intervene. [AND ZUMA DOGG DOES NOT BELIEVE HER AND FEELS SHE IS STRETCHING AND TAKING THINGS OUT OF CONTEXT.]

"You can't go around threatening people, trying to intimidate people and interfering with them when they're trying to do their job," Perry said, who on Friday had called for a council hearing on the controversy. [And when she say, "interfering" she means, continue the path of fraud, waste and abuse and same old business as usual. JAN PERRY...YOU ARE STARTING TO SICKEN ME AGAIN! I MIGHT SUPPORT WENDY OR ERIC FOR MAYOR OVER YOU!]

Trutanich last week denied making any threat, saying only that he has been aggressively upholding the strict ban on signage that the council approved in August. The ban prohibits new digital signs, supergraphics and billboards facing freeways.

"I'm serious about enforcing this ordinance," Trutanich said Friday.

AEG representatives said the city approved plans for the signs in 2006 and had already granted the structural and electrical permits for the six signs, with only the artwork permits still pending. The ban does not cover projects already approved and underway, including AEG's theater at L.A. Live. [BUT I BET THEY DIDN'T FILE THE PERMIT IN TIME. THEIR BAD.]

Leiweke said that if permits for the signs are not issued in a timely fashion, it could represent "hundreds of millions of dollars in damages" for the company. [HE'S SETTING UP THE LAWSUIT.]

THIS ONE LOOKS LIKE A BIG, JUICY SHOWDOWN. IT'S ALMOST AS GOOD AS DALLAS. WIth Larry Hagman (JR) as Nuch and Joan Collins as Jan Perry and Patrick Duffy as Tim L. Maybe ZD can write the script.

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