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L.A. Mayor Defends Jay Z's Made In America Festival As Event Kicks Off

by   Aug 30, 2014 13:57 PM EDT

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Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was under fire earlier this week for allegedly cutting a shady deal that brought Jay Z and Live Nation's Made In America Festival to the Grant Park neighborhood.

With Made In America ready to kick off Saturday, Garcetti is confident that the event will be a boon — not a burden — for his community.

"We're at the crossroads of the world here in L.A.," he told the media on Thursday. "What's important is that Los Angeles figure out a way to get to 'Yes.' There's a million ways to say no, there will always be a million things to consider — that's not a reason to not celebrate."

The event will likely have a positive economic impact on the city. While reporting on the initial story earlier this week, our own Ryan Book speculated that Live Nation (which has already paid $1.1 million for rent and city services) would be the biggest loser coming out of the event:

Festivals in major urban areas have proven to benefit the host cities mightily. One example was this year's Electric Daisy Festival, which brought in an estimated $323 million to hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Las Vegas. The Ultra Festival in Miami can thank local businesses for keeping it running despite its 2014 incidents, thanks to the pressure applied by local businesses and the tourism industry. Coachella brings a significant number of visitors to the area but many end up camping on the grounds, whereas the more centrally located Made in America should lure guests to hotels in the area.

People are upset over the process through which Garcetti procured the event, and there are certainly some major conflicts of interest involved.

The Hollywood Reporter noted that Live Nation CEO is a "highly connected donor to national-level Democratic candidates" who hosted President Obama at his home for a July fundraiser. Garcetti is a Democrat with direct ties to Live Nation, as the company's registered city lobbyist — Joshua Perttula — served as an adviser on Garcetti's transition team "and remains close to the administration."

The event is also not a slam dunk (via THR):

City Councilman Jose Huizar, a Garcetti rival whose district encompasses the park, had raised alarm about the impact of street closures and copious beer sales on residents and businesses. Plus, according to newly revealed city documents, the LAPD had warned the mayor's office of potential damage to city property as well as possible issues with drugs and weapons - initially opposing the event because of the challenge.

Garcetti allegedly circumvented the proper process when procuring the event, and nailed down the festival in unprecedented time. Emails released between Live Nation and the mayor's office included possible evidence that Garcetti skipped over a law that requires 51 percent approval from surrounding neighbors to host such an event.

Spokesperson Marie Lloyd told THR "the normal petition process is being followed."

"This administration has made it our job to cut red tape for initiatives that will boost our economy," she said. "Our aim isn't just to secure millions of dollars of economic activity from this event but also to demonstrate to other market-leading organizations that L.A. is open for business."

The two-day weekend fest includes performances from Kanye West, John Mayer, Imagine Dragons, Weezer, Afrojack, Cypress Hill, Chance The Rapper, and several others.

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