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Las Pegasus Unicon, EFN Q&A

Story so far;

Once upon a time Las Pegasus Unicon had a complete and utter meltdown as the con was unable to pay their bills.

From the cons twisted and burnt out husk bronies united to try and help out those hit hardest by the crash.

Days later the convention itself issued a press release citing some rather random reason for why it all went up like a zepplin full of hydrogen

And so our story continues;

So late last night Final Draft, Saber Spark and a few others hosted a Q&A on Las Pegasus Unicon meltdown on the EFN to basically try and answer questions on about what happened based on what he and others present saw. Now the links there, but given the amount of FUD I’ve seen in the last few hours along with the Unicon press release combined with the fact it’s a three hour Q&A I figured folks might like a breakdown of what was mentioned.

First off Final Draft was answering questions that were provided by SaberSpark via Twitter and PM’s in the EFN IRC.

  • EFN and Final Draft had nothing to do with the finances, or running of the con. The only thing’s EFN had a part in was promoting, and broadcasting while it happened same as the other pony media groups there. Final Draft personally assisted with some of the panel concepts so we get that outta the way first.

  • To Final Draft’s knowledge and those involved in the chat everyone has left Vegas at the time of the Q&A, though they mentioned wanting to know immediately if anyone was still stuck there.

  • As for the VA’s and show staff and how they were effected, generally make arrangements before hand with the convention and create a contract through their agent or them if they don’t have one. As a standard the convention covers travel, accommodations, and appearance fees at the most basic level. None of that was provided at Unicon.

  • According to Final Draft and conversations with the show staff they had been paying out of pocket with the understanding that they’d be reimbursed at the end of the convention.

  • When the #LasPegassist drive was done they’d raised the 12k figure in donations along with another 3k in discounted autograph, pictures and the like for a total of 15k. This covered almost all of the travel and accommodations that the show staff paid to attend. Agents that Final Draft has been talking to for the show staff stated that this covered pretty much 90% of the cost.

  • The Agents and show staff are extremely grateful that the fandom stepped up and handled this in the manner that they did.

  • As has been stated numerous times the #LasPegassist drive money went to the show staff, none of it went to Unicon. Hence why it was live streamed that EFN transferred the money to one of the agents as a way to show transparency where the money was going and why.

  • Now why was the particular paypal account used for the #LasPegassist drive? Short version they needed a paypal business account and the only one that was available belonged to one of the EFN staff members. The reason they needed a business account was two fold, once the donations started coming in a regular account would be shutdown by paypal. The other reason is that the money was needed in a time critical manner. So there was no time to make a new business paypal account or wait for paypal to go through the hassle of trying to get the account unflagged later on which if you’ve seen the horror stories you know can take days, weeks or twenty minutes if you go viral with your story. At the time they didn’t want to take any chances.

  • Once it was gathered they need the ability to transfer this rather large amount of money to the agents to be dispersed as needed. EFN and the other media groups did not want to responsible for that type of issue so the agents talked amongst themselves and decided that John de Lancie’s agent would be the one to receive the initial funds and from there the agents would see to the rest of it. Now at the time of the live stream we weren’t supposed to see the account details, because well that’s generally not information that needs to be known. Turns out Liege de Lancie’s agent only has one business account on paypal and that was for Robert Picardo’s fan club, note Robert Picardo had no problem with the account being used in this manner either. So yeah Robert Picardo and John de Lancie have the same agent.

  • Note and this can’t be stressed enough setting up a business paypal account is not something that is quick or easy to do hence why those specific paypal accounts were used.

  • Later in the week Final Draft will be interviewing Robert Picardo about the Unicon meltdown and what happened, least on his end.

  • Opinion on the Las Pegasus Unicon press release was basically that it doesn’t’ help and the organizers need to break down the finances in their entirety. Complete financial breakdown with whatever records they have.

  • Topic of how guests could be effected by the Unicon failure came up as well. For those not aware some con-goers purchased various tiered packages. Many of the higher end ones included a comped room that was to be paid for by Unicon. When the money wasn’t paid these guests were than charged for the room.

  • Next apparently LPU did not have a credit card on file with the Rivera, for those who do con work heavily you know this is a major issue since hotels are generally paid before hand or after the con and the card is generally used as collateral by the convention itself. Now at the same time when the guest or VIP is given a comp room your required to put your own card down for incidentals, things like room service, turning the curtains into a toga, throwing the tv out the window, you know normal stuff.

  • Once it became clear to the Riviera that LPU wasn’t going to pay, they started charging these incidentals CC’s which according to the paperwork Final Draft saw when checking into the room the card was for incidentals.

  • Again the paperwork guests and VIP’s signed specifically stated the CC’s for incidentals were just for that it was not for the room. I can not stress this part enough.

  • Final Draft also apparently had an massive argument with the hotel staff about this, and also notes this is likely grounds for a lawsuit.

  • Final Draft and the EFN again noted that LPU staff not involved with finances stuck around and helped in any way they could and that he didn’t want to see them demonized withint the fandom.

  • Final Draft stated that hose culpable for what happened; Sandi, Eddie and the Rivera need to answer for what happened. He also noted before the Q&A started he got a call from Eddie, who is Sandi’s husband asking him not to spread rumors.

  • Final Draft afterward mentions that the entire thing feels and smells like a ponzi scheme, and until there’s an accounting of what happened in full there’s a major issue here. Reiterating that people owed need to confirm all cash values reported by LPU.

  • SaberSpark at this time spoke up about what happened when he went to check out once it became clear that LPU had gone full Hindenburg, thank you M.A. Larson for that, he encountered something rather odd. Apparently the lady at the checkout counter had a piece of paper on her and that she’d been told by Sandi that they(LPU) can’t pay for it and that hotel has to ask us(SaberSpark) to pay for it. Noting again, that Sandi came to the Rivera staff and stated make them pay.

  • Sandi and Eddie are trying to claim the above is a rumor and apparently asked Final Draft to report it as such before the Q&A, but has been confirmed by SaberSpark, Final Draft and others who went to LPU.

  • Switching gears Final Draft than brought up one of the founders a 17 year old from Mexico named Carlos who’s family had gathered the cash to pay for the package who got hit with the same charges that everyone was getting hit with.

  • After mentioning Carlos, Final Draft brought up that an hour before the Q&A he’d been in talks with one of the larger agents. Apparently the fan response had so amazed both the agents and show staff that they wanted to help out everyone in the community who was impacted by this. The musicians, founders packages, dealers and others effected by this. He’ll be working with Mic the Microphone and all pony media that he can.

  • Vendor bits, you’ve heard the rumors and their true. The dealers made some sort of arrangement to use a fake currency for the con, that would be redeemed by the vendors after the convention was finished. Vendor bits were a gimmick for most of the higher tier packages for the convention to basically give them a bit more cash to spend.

  • Question came up did the LPU staff ran away during the metldown. At this point it does appear that they didn’t run away persay, but they did seem to sequester themselves somewhere no one could find them. Final Draft noted he saw them twice on Sunday, but the rest of the time they seemed to make a point of not being available.

  • Early Sunday morning Final Draft with Bejoty (one of the heads of Everfree Northwest), Karen Pidela (Head of Equestria LA), and Jonathan Dietz (Head of Fiesta Equestria) found Sandi sitting in the main rooms looking dumbstruck as it was clear that LPU had gone full Hindenburg. Stating “They were taking over the convention so the Guests wouldn’t have to pay for it, and unless you (Sandi) have something we need to know we’re going to go handle this.” At this point Sandi nodded and they left to deal with what they could.

  • Later on Sandi did put Cat Whitney in charge who did everything she could to help out.

  • SaberSpark also noted he saw Sandi at around 7PM near the registration desk with some other folks and gave him the glare. Take that for what you will, but apparently Racebest was with him when this happened.

  • The second time Final Draft ran into Sandi was after the donations had been collected, but before they were transferred she was with one of the representatives from the Riviera. Sandi was asking him to take the donation money from the #LasPegassist drive to and pay the Riviera. Final Draft told them no the money had been collected for the show staff and would go to them, at which point the Riviera rep in front of everyone stated they were owed 18k. To which Final Draft stated it was not his problem, as the money wasn’t a part of LPU it was from the community specifically in answer to a charity drive for the show staff.

  • Let me state that again, Sandi and a representative of the Riviera wanted the #LasPegassist drive cash to cover LPU’s 18k debt.

  • Starlight one of the guys running Sweet Apple Acres con in Tennessee, mentioned that Sandi had been sequestered in the room next to the registration desk for the majority of Sunday.

  • Sunday, as it was known that LPU would not meet any of it’s contract obligations the show staff still continued to do their scheduled panels knowing that they would not be reimbursed for their rooms. Same for those who stayed in the autograph rooms, none of the show staff bailed early because of the con meltdown. Britt McKilip did need to leave as she had some sort of medical emergency before LPU started falling apart.

  • The subject of LPU’s press release stating that the Riviera and agents for show staff we’re raiding the LPU cash was brought up. Neither SaberSpark, Final Draft or anyone in the chat personally witnessed it, and given everything else no one believes any of the agents did so. The Riviera given their actions over the weekend is another matter, again though no one involved in the Q&A saw this.

  • Shout out was given to /mlp/ for some of the detective work their doing trying to dig up facts.

  • The Fire alarm was raised on Sunday, but according to various sources it was either someone going out of a fire door, or an issue in the kitchen. The alarm itself doesn’t appear to have been a part of some sinister plan to raid the cash boxes of LPU.

  • Contracts being broken were now mentioned as the question of lawsuits was brought up.

  • Impact of future conventions was brought up at which point Final Draft mentioned that he felt there were too many conventions currently. Final Draft mentions he believes that the agents and show staff will be more wary of first time conventions. Along with more conventions paying more attention to their own finances and viability of the con.

  • He also mentioned that there are basically two types of conventions, the big name ones like Bronycon, Everfree Northwest, Equestria LA and others that are the large scale conventions with large numbers of show staff showing. The other type is the local meetup group that start up their own and are smaller venues with a few hundred people attending such as Trotcon, Brony Fairs, and those types which go after the fan community guests instead of the larger expense of getting show staff to appear.

  • A retired small claims court lawyer pipped up in the IRC room or via twitter mentioned that many folks could file class action lawsuits for false advertising, fraud, along with obstruction of living quality due to the charges incurred as people were stranded by surprise.

  • No one knows what happened to the charity funds for Kiki charity as those funds were handled by LPU entirely and before the LPU meltdown had began so no one was aware there would be an issue.

  • The funds for the Charity auction Sunday to benefit College View School, for Amy Keating Rogers though is in the right hands according to the Q&A.

  • The celebrity dinner was than mentioned as it was the main fundraiser for Kiki, mentioning that everyone but show staff, show staff guests, and certain con staff had to pay $200 to get in and there was at least that many people there.

  • Question of Hasbro’s reaction to this was brought up, but no one is even sure what their reaction if any will be.

  • Show staff have already made it clear to Final Draft in private conversations that their excited for the upcoming conventions. If anything this will effect newer conventions and first year conventions.

  • Vendors were given limited time to pack up their things and exit the dealer room at around 5pm. They were supposed to have till 7pm, but the Riviera decided everyone had to be out at 5pm forcing many to move quickly. Vendors were assisting other vendors as were various media groups and staff from other cons who were attending LPU.

  • The question of if vendors should pay the 8% of profits that was originally stipulated by LPU. Final Draft mentions that as the con broke contracts with everyone they have lost the right to ask for any of those profits.

  • Final Draft, and the majority of the pony media groups became aware of LPU’s situation late Saturday evening as they were pulled aside and made aware of the issue.

  • The question of if they could get Sandi and Eddie to speak for themselves on air was raised. Final Draft doesn’t expect that they’d accept, noting that they did call them an hour before the Q&A session, but didn’t volunteer to be a part of it. He also stated it doesn’t do any good to bring them on the air if they don’t have any of the necessary hard data on their end as this would be little more than a public lynching.

  • The rumor of Tara Strong getting up and leaving a dinner was brought up and proven to be false as multiple people saw her and the rest of the show staff staying for the entire dinner Saturday night.

  • The question of multiple relief groups was brought up as the Las Pegasus Relief League had started auctions already and Final Draft had been mentioning his own that would start soon. As far as Final Draft is concerned multiple groups would be fine, they just needed to coordinate well.

  • When LPU failed Sunday VA’s were transported from the convention to the airport via a limo through a local mutual friend of DustyKatt and others transporting them to the airport.

  • LPU’s claim that $40k was paid to the agents and show staff before and during the con, according to Final Draft and his conversations with the agents no such payment was made.

  • Attendance was brought up, Final Draft had heard and believes that the 1700 attendee’s number is correct based on what he saw. He does believe that the con was ill timed, and should have been on a holiday weekend.

  • Final Draft mentioned that he believes that LPU overextended themselves, and knew it earlier in the year before they got the final approvals for their guest list. He theorized that LPU than decided to do it Vegas style and went all in hoping attendance would match what they’d gathered. He reiterated though that this is his theory on what happened.

  • “Is it ture /mlp/ had something to do with LPU’s failure?” Final Draft and SaberSpark ”Pffftttt BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

  • Mention was made of the proposed Brony Event council concept that’s been mentioned since LPU as a way to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again. In general the idea likely isn’t needed and no one would really be able to hold conventions to it.

  • Folks asked if there was any truth to the Riviera confiscating vendor merchandise, one of the chat users mentioned that ScrewLoose had items taken, but the details vague at best. Later on in the Q&A ScrewLoose mentioned they were supposed to be compensated for I believe patches, but the audio on SaberSpark’s audio was rather low and Final Draft’s response to who was supposed to compensate them was something he’d believe when he got confirmation it happened. Checking ScrewLooses twitter I found a tweet that mentions them loosing about $110 worth of patches.

  • It was confirmed that LPU was was vastly understaffed. Those present who weren’t part of management did everything they could to help.

  • Reports were mentioned again that some of the agents were paid in advance and that they were supposedly paid 25% in advance. Final Draft again noted that according to his conversations with the agents some of them did receive some payment before LPU, but that none of them had received any where near 25%.

  • When setting up the #LasPegassist drive for the show staff, the conversation with the agents stated they needed about 15k to cover travel and accommodations and that’s why the drive was closed after hitting that goal.

  • EFN did not make any money or get paid for covering LPU, the only thing they did get was their airfare for Final Draft, Eight Track, and CowboyDave which was part of the original contract with LPU. They had to pay their own baggage fees for transporting equipment, though they were supposed to get their rooms comped.

  • People asked what the back story for Sandi and Eddie was, instead of typing it here I’ll note you can hear Final Draft’s comments on it at 1:48:45.

  • The Riviera has been accused of scams previously and Final Draft mentioned that a basic search only showed the hotel as having minor issues. He hadn’t seen anything that stood out, but he didn’t really dig into it. The fact that LPU didn’t have a credit card on file is something everyone finds extremely odd.

  • The topic of possible scams being run by Sandi and Eddie was brought up again at which point Final Draft mentioned if someone finds real tangible evidence they need to post it somewhere besides 4chan as few would ever take that information seriously. Noting if someone does find something put it up somewhere reputable.

  • The topic of LPU’s statement that EFNW had taken over in full for the con was disputed by Final Draft, and is supported by his original comments near the beginning of the Q&A.

  • Sherry Fowler was confirmed as one of the agents that coordinated for the #LasPegassist drive.

  • Part way through the Q&A M. A. Larson had made a tweet that he been paid $0.0 money from LPU.

  • The question was raised if LPU would change how EFN would handle reporting and attending conventions in the future. This lead to Final Draft going into a long talk about contract’s and conventions and how prior to this year he didn’t require them to cover travel, accommodations, and internet as it was all paid for out of pocket in 2012. The full conversation starts at 2:22:25 for those that want to hear all the details in regards to the contract.

  • No one is sure if the organizers of LPU paid anyone for anything before the convention.

  • Towards the end of the Q&A Peter New was outed as listening to it the entire time.

  • Most important part is that LPU was not an LLC or any other organization.

  • Towards the end speculation turned towards how much money was pulled in by the con based on charity events, the various con packages, and entrance fees. Final Draft mentioned that based on some math some folks attending the con mentioned that the Charity Dinner alone pulled in 35k easily before costs. 4chan mentioned that total income was possibly close to 130k based on just ticket sales, Final Draft stated at that point that he wasn’t sure what numbers they were using, but noted plenty of folks around him mentioned that the con had to have cleared at least 100k.

  • Final, relevant, question of the night was would alerting the mainstream media would hurt or help the situation. Considering how the mainstream media treats the community in general it would most likely do nothing, but hurt the community.

There were other questions asked during the Q&A session that I’m not covering here because they were either fluff filler questions or things unrelated to the meltdown. A few were also repeats or clarifications for earlier questions while a few were pure speculation without any real foundation. Either way hope this was useful to folks as I’ve seen very little in the way of details for what happened at LPU and so much FUD on it that I’ve taken a bit of my own time to find what I can and put it in an easy to reference post or document.

One other item of note during the Q&A session I know Calligraphy1 was trying to get in contact with the EFN about some details she was aware of as she was the Music coordinator for LPU and has pretty much been doing everything she can to help the musicians out. I’m not sure if she ever got in touch with them, but given the fact her and others were charged by the Riviera again today I’m wanting to make sure this part is seen.

So please spread this around so we can dispel some of the rampant FUD going on and if somethings wrong let me know, but provide some sort of source for it, please.

Beyond that I’ve seen some rather nasty FUD about the Las Pegasus Relief League that’ll take me longer to run down and clear up.