Michael Jackson, we can hope, now rests in peace. Embarrassment over the way Los Angeles handled his memorial service may be with us for a while.
It's not like the city is incapable of doing anything right. By all accounts, the Police Department and traffic officers handled their end of Tuesday's event flawlessly. But in so many other ways, City Hall bumbling makes Los Angeles look laughably low-tech, shamefully disorganized, simultaneously an easy mark and a swindler, and cheap and pathetic besides.
First, there's sandwich-gate, which new Controller Wendy Greuel, to her credit, is making into an issue. It's great to feed the overtime workers, but nearly 50 grand for catering from a shop in Wrightwood? That's in San Bernardino County. In the mountains. Up a winding road. Greuel said Subway could have done it for $17,000. OK, so maybe one Subway shop in L.A. can't throw together 3,500 lunches in a few minutes. But we're pretty sure there are at least a couple of other lunch places in the city as well.
Or how about the plea to the public for a few pennies to defray expenses? Los Angeles is not New Orleans, and a memorial service is not Katrina. Yes, the city is grappling with a deep budget shortfall and is furloughing workers, but could we show a little dignity? Yes, it makes sense to call on AEG, which ran the show and owns the facilities, to foot the $1.4-million bill. But not publicly, on the day of the funeral. And let's not forget that the city does have an emergency fund for exactly these kinds of unexpected and extraordinary occurrences.