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L.A. in economic shambles but can spend $1 million for a parade?

By Jimmy Orr / June 16, 2009

Lakers' fans celebrate the NBA championship in traditional fashion -- smashing a police car's window and attempting to flip it over. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa originally supported spending $1 million on a parade but after much criticism has opted to find private funds for the celebration.

PHILIP SCOTT ANDREWS/AP

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It seems stunning that the conversation even has to happen.

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The State of California is in economic ruins. A disaster. An economic Chernobyl. Yet the city of Los Angeles has $1 million on hand to pay for a basketball parade?

A business would laugh at such a thought. Businesses have to make money to survive. Only in government can such a conversation actually occur. And guess what? LA's top politician didn't see a problem with it.

$1 million

After LA decimated Orlando in game five of the NBA finals to win the championship, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed the idea of spending $1 million in taxpayer dollars to fund half of the parade. After all, the Lakers are the 2009 NBA champions. Why wouldn't the city pay for the parade?

Well, maybe it's the 11 percent unemployment rate. Or the pay cuts that city employees are staring at. Perhaps it's the massive layoffs that could happen in the near future. Or the $529 million deficit. Things like that.

The Five Oh

These small items aren't lost on the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The president of the organization, Paul Weber, doesn't get Villaraigosa's gung-ho approach to spending city money on a parade.

"At a time of financial crisis, when the public expects -- and quite frankly should demand -- city leaders to be good stewards of every tax dollar, it is foolish for elected officials to favor spending 1 million tax dollars on a three-hour parade," Weber said in a statement. "We have great hopes that the NBA and the Lakers, which made millions during the playoffs, will step up and help fund this celebratory civic event. Everyone loves a parade, but we feel strongly in this case, the Lakers or other private funds should pay for it."

Unions

And the Coalition of L.A. City Unions doesn't like the idea either. They represent 22,000 workers and the coalition believes a taxpayer funded parade wouldn't set well with their members.

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