But...if Scout didn't charge, how's he gonna pay for it? No admission means no Derrick.
I see people falling into this easy fallacy of false choice, one-or-the-other.
It has a lot to do with 'what I would do' and because we you don't fully speak the language of people in the way they would speak it, it's easy to open yourself up to self-mutilation.
My thoughts are that it was a mistake to engage the concerns of people who aren't speaking the same language. Let them have their say; their opinions, in all seriousness, had never warranted any amount of fuel to keep the flamewar alive.
Just because their are alternatives to planning an event, doesn't mean it is necessary to engage in that conversation, even if for the purposes of making sure everyone gets their voice heard.
I'm not on the Portland Indymedia site, and neither should I be, but I would post for them links to get grants for honorariums. The underground world turns on the same axis the above-ground world.
It would be very possible to find benefactors and foundations to support the same kind of event for the cash-strapped.
As a rule of thumb in the non-profit world, a ticketed event should fund one or two things. Directly serving the population you wish to serve, and paying for the event itself.
The non-profit I work for uses volunteers we get from around the world very sparingly around the office for our own operations and workforce needs. We take care a lot of those things ourselves. People come from Montreal and Santa Barbara to help Katrina and Rita victims, not to help us repair our leaky roof or file papers. While perfectly reasoned to be a part of the overall mission, a slice of the meaning is lost for the volunteers. Perhaps this anecdote is something to consider.
Consider that I do believe $15 is reasonable for a national, best-selling author. It's actually, a little low. I'm impressed you are able to collect money within that $15 to support mythmedia, as well. Personally, I just wouldn't talk about it. Project management fees, in my world, is assumed.