01 Apr 2014
- Written by Bernard Parks
VOICES-My backstabbers have become more brazen lately. Particularly Councilmember Curren Price, who is attempting to hijack my 12th Annual Fireworks Extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this year. ‘They smile in your face - all the time they wanna take your place…’
My first Fireworks Extravaganza was in 2003 and it’s nothing less than insulting to have someone come up, after serving less than a year in Council no less, and try to yank a highly sentimental project from under you. When I first started putting the show together, a meager 3,500 people showed up. In the last 4-5 years the event has swelled to a major production with KJLH, food vendors, activities for kids, and more that attracted over 50,000 people last year.
My show draws crowds from all over the city and beyond, and definitely rivals other shows in Southern California. We’ve continued to cut costs to the Coliseum and have acquiesced to their various requests (which seem to change day to day) including submitting letters well in advance and completing lengthy contracts.
As a child during the 50s, I lived a few blocks away from the Coliseum and seeing fireworks there for Fourth of July was always a very exciting time. For decades, there were no fireworks shows at the Coliseum; they just abruptly stopped and no one wanted to deal with putting on the show.
When I took office as Councilmember, I wanted to revive this beloved tradition from my childhood, and I did. I wanted to provide a safe and fun venue where people could enjoy viewing fireworks without running the risk of lighting fireworks themselves and handling them incorrectly, which might result in injury or loss of limbs.
Although I appeared on "The Bold and the Beautiful" earlier this week, my method acting could not prepare me for the performance at Wednesday’s Coliseum Commission meeting.
I’m not going to disclose all the meddlesome details but the main fact is that Price did not come to me directly to discuss wanting to produce the Fireworks Extravaganza; I had to hear it from some of our vendors whom we have strong relationships with. The deception on Price’s part is reminiscent of when Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy for lip-synching. Actually, it’s worse than that. He’s lip-synching and the Mark Ridley-Thomas and USC backup vocals can only hold him for so long.
The only defense that Price incessantly kept repeating is that the Coliseum is in his district, therefore, he should put on the event. 1) there’s not enough space in this letter for me to begin to discuss the still-in-litigation redistricting process that removed the Coliseum from my district 2) the Coliseum is a facility not only for the district in which it resides; it’s for the whole city to use.
Furthermore my district starts literally a few feet from the property line of Exposition Park which houses the Coliseum. Are we really going to draw lines in the sand?
It’s no secret that I was the only one to object to the giveaway of the Coliseum and Sports Arena to USC. This looks like petty high school payback. I thought as you get older you don’t have to put up such foolishness but it looks like it never ends.
William Chadwick, the State representative on the Commission, asked why the event couldn’t be put on jointly. I’m open to collaboration when executed the correct and formal way; that wasn’t done in this instance. Plus when Price explicitly stated in the meeting that he wanted to be the sole producer and hone all leadership, I didn’t hear anything even slightly resembling collaboration in his statement; it sounds like someone who wants all the toys to himself whether he deserves them or not.
This bout is not for ego or glory. We can all agree that the fireworks show belongs to the people. It’s about respect and the decency that I deserve after 50 years of public service.
The only thing that was determined from the meeting was that a fireworks show will go on as planned. Another meeting will be held to determine whether the show will be a collaborative effort between Price and myself or as Mark Ridley-Thomas hinted at, a show put on by someone other than Price and myself. These are interesting times we’re living in. I’ll let you know when the next meeting will be held.
Vol 12 Issue 27
Pub: Apr 1, 2014