That's Matt Szabo, senior press secretary to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigos, explaining to CNN that the city is asking folks attending Michael Jackson's funeral to kick a little extra cash the city's way. So, is this a nod towards some kind of voluntary tax regime, whereby city services are directly supported by those that actually use them? Or is it just another government shakedown, with LA looking to cash in on Jackson's grieving/partying fans?
More from the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes:
Journalists wondering all morning how the cash-strapped city of Los Angeles was going to pay for all those cops outside the Staples Center and other city services surrounding today's memorial got their answer when Matt Szabo, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's senior press secretary, began panhandling at the site.
"Los Angeles is a world-class city that's used to putting on world class events" but is "not immune to the recession" Szabo told CNN's Heidi Collins. "We're asking Michael Jackson fans to help be a part of this event—to contribute online and literally support this great memorial."
"Is that the first place you went—to fans?" Collins asked, sounding, understandably, confounded. "Have you spoken with the Jackson family or [concert promoter and memorial producer] AEG?"
Szabo began to dance: "It is our understanding AEG is putting on this entire event. What we're concerned about is paying for all of the other services," he said. "We're asking all those people who want to do something, to contribute in some way…to help provide for the safety of this event." He seemed to be suggesting that if something goes wrong today, safety-wise, it could "tarnish" Jackson's memory. Yikes.