The city of Los Angeles spent nearly $36 million for the Democratic National Convention in August, more than four times the cost estimate given to the City Council in 1999.
Most of the money went for policing before and during the convention, council members were told Friday.
The City Council will vote on the final spending report on Dec. 13. A memo presented to the council said the city spent $4.1 million on running a shuttle bus fleet and managing traffic on downtown streets.
An additional $4.2 million was spent on logistical support, while $1.2 million went into Fire Department services. The $36 million estimate also includes $4 million in cash the city agreed to give the convention committee when it reported shortfalls in its fund-raising efforts.
Several lawmakers expressed anger. The council had originally been told by its staff in 1999 that it would cost the city $8.3 million for security, transportation and other services. As it turned out, officials said, putting large numbers of police on the streets, and backing them up, cost nearly $22 million, mostly in overtime.
"This has been a sorry day in this city," Councilman Joel Wachs said. "I think this has really been a fraud on taxpayers of the city from the moment it started."
Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg questioned whether it was necessary for the LAPD to send "an army" downtown to police the many protests, which were mostly peaceful.
"Of course it had the desired effect, but the desired effect was not just to keep peace," said Goldberg. "The desired effect was to intimidate people who then did not exercise their right of free speech."
LAPD Deputy Chief Maurice Moore--who was questioned intensely by Goldberg--assured the council that the police expenditures were "absolutely necessary."
Fearful that the protesters would have turned Los Angeles into "another Seattle," Councilman Nate Holden told his colleagues to quit "jawboning."
The police, Holden said, should be "applauded for a job well done."
Wachs said that he believed the city's costs were intentionally understated. He also questioned whether Los Angeles actually raised $147 million from the event, as estimated by city staff.
"You've been hoodwinked," Wachs told the council.
Councilwoman Laura Chick said she wished the council would have been told about the cost overruns much earlier.
"It's probably the case that each department can justify that those expenses were incurred," Chick said. "But it's mind-boggling to me that that's the way the city handles its finances."
Councilman Mike Feuer, who heads the council's budget committee, agreed that the costs were astronomical. Nevertheless, he said he believed the expenses were justified.
"It would have been far, far better had the real expenses been known to the leadership of the city at the time the convention was brought to Los Angeles," Feuer said. "Now that we know what the costs are, it's a matter of paying them."