A contribution to incumbent Councilman Bernard Parks’ campaign has instigated a debate between the two candidates vying for the city council’s 8th District seat about whether or not the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum should host raves.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Parks had received a $500 campaign contribution from Todd DeStefano. DeStefano is currently under investigation by local and state authorities to see if any laws were broken when he served on the Coliseum’s Commission to oversee security, while also being a paid promoter for Insomniac Inc., the company that hosted the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum.
A 15-year-old girl died of a drug overdose during EDC at the Coliseum.
Forescee Hogan-Rowles, who is running against Parks for the 8th District seat, asserts that Parks should return DeStefano’s contribution.
“[Parks] should return the money,” Hogan-Rowles said. “It is not in a gray area.”
Parks, however, maintains that DeStefano committed no crime and he will therefore not return his donation.
Hogan-Rowles not only disapproves of the donation but said she is also a harsh critic of raves, insisting that raves foster a negative environment in the district.
“[Raves] should not be held at the Coliseum,” Hogan-Rowles said. “They are not appropriate for our neighborhood and our community.”
Parks contends that the electronic music events that occur at the Coliseum are not raves, and the events reflect the music preferences of the community.
“A rave is an illegal underground party,” Parks said. “What we have at the Coliseum is an electric music festival, which is the number-one genre of music worldwide.”
Parks also noted that musical performer Will.i.am headlined both the Electric Daisy Carnival and the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show.
“The headline performer at [the Electric Daisy Carnival] happened to have been the headline at the Super Bowl halftime show,” Parks said. “I think it is not an underground event, but a mainstream event.”
The main concern of rave opponents is safety. Hogan-Rowles said she worries in particular about the safety of the youth, who comprise a majority of the attendees at such events.
“If our youth and young people, who we are expecting to be leaders, are dying or suffering injuries from raves, then they are not events we should support and they are not events that I support,” Hogan-Rowles said.
Parks said safety is the number one priority of the Coliseum and event providers.
“It’s absolutely incumbent, whether it’s an ’SC football game or a music festival, that we be absolutely concerned about the safety of the community and participants above all,” Parks said.
Parks also supports raves because of their economic benefits. He cites studies from event promoters, which state that electronic music events stimulate the economies of hosting communities.
“If we believe what we have been told by the event promoters, 4,000 jobs are added to the community for music events,” Parks said. “Their economic studies predict $32 million is infused into the community.”
Hogan-Rowles highlights, though, that these jobs are only temporary and their economic impact is short-lived.
“Parks has stated that raves create 4,000 jobs, but these are one-night events,” Hogan-Rowles said. “We want to create living wage jobs, where people have benefits and can count on an income going forward.”
The increased prevalence of raves in Los Angeles prompted President C. L. Max Nikias to address students, through a letter last month, of the dangers of attending such events. He went so far as to explicitly advise students against attending raves.
“With the collective support of the university’s senior administration — and as the father of two USC students — I strongly discourage your participation in rave events,” Nikias wrote.
Dylan Moore, a freshman majoring in software engineering, said he believes people shouldn’t be restricted from attending raves because of the poor choices some participants make.
“Students should spend their time as they will,” Moore said. “Raves aren’t dangerous, it is what individual people decide to do that can be harmful.”
Some students say the clear division between the candidates in regards to raves might impact their vote.
“I would be in favor of a candidate who was against raves,” said Alex Plueger, a senior majoring in business administration. “I have been to raves before and know they are dangerous, and I have friends that have had trouble at [raves].”
Elections for the 8th District seat, which represents USC and its surrounding community, will be held March 8.