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A party, with no politics, for the departing Villaraigosa

Before he leaves office, Villaraigosa will host 'The Ultimate L.A. Block Party,' where guests will join the mayor for food, fun and a 'final farewell.' The cost is criticized by a labor group.

May 31, 2013|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • "The Ultimate L.A. Block Party" that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is throwing in Grand Park on June 7 is expected to cost $265,000.
"The Ultimate L.A. Block Party" that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Before Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa leaves office at the end of June, he's throwing an epic party — with celebrities, an ex-president and a price tag of $265,000.

The public event, billed as "The Ultimate L.A. Block Party," hits downtown's Grand Park on Friday night, June 7. Former President Bill Clinton is on the guest list and mariachi legend Pepe Aguilar is slated to perform. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest will emcee.

The party marks the culmination of this year's "Heritage Month" celebrations, which honor ethnic and other groups, but will also serve as a goodbye to Villaraigosa, who must leave office because he has served the maximum two terms. In an invitation sent out by his office, guests were invited to join the mayor for food, fun and a "final farewell."

Although most of the event will be covered by donations from private companies including Disney, Wells Fargo and Time Warner Cable, the city will pay about $75,000 in police, street services and other costs, according to Villaraigosa spokeswoman Vicki Curry.

A labor group representing 10,000 city employees has criticized that expense, saying taxpayer money shouldn't be used to fund a party in an era of major budget cutbacks.

"At a time when the city says it can't afford its employees and says it needs its employees to contribute more toward healthcare and retirement, they're throwing a $75,000 party for the mayor," said Art Sweatman, a tree surgeon and union steward for Service Employees International Union local 721.

"Public funds are for services," Sweatman added. "How many trees could we trim with $75,000?"

Villaraigosa's relationship with city employee unions has soured in recent years as he has pushed for more concessions. In April, he said city workers should not get any raises between summer of 2014 and 2017.

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