Promoter Paid Back In 40s
Two years after a concert with rapper E-40 at the Visalia Convention Center in California was canceled because of police fears of violence, the city of Visalia and the Visalia Emergency Aid Council forked over $17,500 each to concert promoter Bonnie Gomez-Thompson and her attorney in a settlement reached June 11th.
Gomez-Thompson sued the city in June 2006 for $100,000 in damages to her concert promotion company Reel Talk Entertainment for lost merch sales, lost wages and lost career opportunity, according to the Fresno Bee.
The "Hip Hop for Hunger" concert to benefit Visalia Emergency Aid was originally scheduled March 11, 2006, but the organization withdrew its support and the show was canceled after police checked E-40’s Web site and read the song lyrics about cocaine, gangs and police informants.
City officials were worried that the concert would attract gangs and possibly incite violence but Visalia interim Police Chief Bob Williams had another reason why the concert didn’t belong in the city.
Williams reportedly said during a February 28, 2006, meeting with the promoter and other organizers that they should consider booking a country show because "a George Strait concert with a redneck audience would sell more tickets," according to the Bee. He later issued a two-page letter of apology to the community.
The concert was then moved to the Valdez Hall in nearby Fresno – but that didn’t make things A-OK with Gomez-Thompson. Her attorney, Douglas Hurt, told the paper she had already sold about 1,500 tickets to the Visalia concert and spent thousands promoting it. Hurt said in addition to tarnishing her reputation as a promoter, Gomez-Thompson had to pay E-40 $5,000 extra for the change in venue.
The incident caused Gomez-Thompson to eventually move out of Visalia.
Hurt said the lawsuit "wasn’t about money" but that "she was trying to vindicate herself."
After the Visalia City Council approved the settlement in a closed session with a 3-2 vote, Gomez-Thompson gave back $7,500 to Emergency Aid. In a cross-complaint, the city had sued the charity but insurance covered the $10,000 balance owed by Emergency Aid.
"We were stuck in the middle," Reyes Zaragoza, executive director of Emergency Aid, told the Bee. "I did appreciate how the city was willing to come to an agreement and spare us a costly situation. I also appreciate Bonnie Gomez-Thompson and her concern."