‘Keep the Angels’ Rally: Watch for ANY Discussion of How Much This Will Cost

Before last Tuesday’s Anaheim City Council meeting, at which Mayor Tom Tait had viciously and with clear prior intent agendized an item that would give the Council a chance to instruct its negotiators as to what they wanted to achieve in the negotiations with Angels owner Arte Moreno (most of which involve passing city assets to Moreno personally rather than to the team), there was a rally in front of City Hall by the patriotic group “Keep the Angels.”  We showed you the Take Back Anaheim speakers earlier; in the interests of equal time, the Orange Juice Blog here allows the proponents of the rally to have their say.

Keep the Angels rally - at starting time

“Let it never be said that a small group of people cannot change the world after being assembled by a deeply in debt astroturf organization funded largely by unusual and overly generous contracts from the City Council majority it supports,” Margaret Mead almost said.

The City Council-sponsored Anaheim Chamber of Commerce  had issued invitations for all sorts of people from the broader community to show up at the “Keep the Angels” rally and express their deep desire to give Arte Moreno a trillion dollars or more — “just give the man whatever he wants! (or whatever Curt Pringle wants him to get so he can sell it to someone in town, ideally represented by Curt Pringle) — to keep the Angels in Anaheim.  The rally was intended to fend off all non-existent threats to kick the Angels out of Anaheim — and it seems to have worked.  (Anaheim has also not been attacked by fire-breathing pterodactyls since the rally, but that may be a coincidence.)

Anaheim - tent protesting anti-homeless ordinance

Whether or not the Council got a bad rap on this agenda item, this tent pitched outside City Hall was funny.

The Angels discussion wasn’t the only item on the agenda.  A proposed ordinance making it illegal to sleep in tents in city parks was proposed — and later wisely tabled by Kris Murray (!) when it became clear that, whether the proposal did or didn’t have merit, the PR rollout for it was atrocious.  (Combined with the creation of adequate public storage facilities and public restroom and sleeping facilities for the homeless, to allow them to stow their stuff during the day and then go out and about without getting their stuff ripped off — something the homeless care about! — it could actually be defensible.  But it wasn’t presented to the public in that context.  So, one brief cheer for the Murrbot!)

Keep the Angels rally - capacity crowd

Look, look! More people showed up! But before you’re too impressed at home many people can squeeze into one frame, you’d better check out the video, where I scan to see how many were actually there.

I’m presumably doing a favor to the “Keep the Angels” group by transmitting their speeches to a broader audience.  But I’m doing so largely to let you focus on the content — which is pretty empty.  Virtually everyone would like to keep the Angels in town; the question is how much it will cost!  We can probably agree that giving Arte Moreno a trillion dollars worth of city resources — whether cash on hand, future income stream from taxes and fees, or real estate — would be absurd and unacceptable.  So the question is, where do we draw the line?  Do you hear any discussion of “cost” to the city — or mostly discussion along the lines of what’s good for “The Catch,” the restaurant located in the Angels Stadium parking lot?

Those shirts, by the way, are essentially paid for by Anaheim taxpayers.  The City Council voted to overpay the financially strapped Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to do something that other cities with Enterprise Zones did in-house, and they suddenly had the money to buy nice-looking t-shirts to give out to the public for free.  When I use words like “corruption,” that’s part of what I have in mind.

OK, ready to enjoy the experience of the rally just as I did, while waiting for the meeting to begin and after the big reveal?  The first two videos are after the rally’s starting time but before the speeches; the last two show you the speeches.

Note that the first two videos may be blocked because Train’s “Calling All Angels” and whoever’s “Build Me Up Buttercup” were playing in the background. Hey, I didn’t want to record them; I was just recording the rally as it was! My hope is that YouTube will play without the audio. Any copyright infringement concerns will be forwarded to the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce — maybe they licensed the music.

(Note also: this first video is shaky and may induce nausea, especially in the Chamber of Commerce and Anaheim City Council majority. Fixing the shakiness seems to degrade the image quality, so I decided against it.)

This video from shortly before speeches began is quite a bit more stable and contains compelling vocal accompaniment (unbidden by OJB or its agents) just after the 1:00 mark as well as some pretty convincing pans of empty space.

Twelve minutes before the meeting was about to begin, the rally still hadn’t. Then, as if by magic, Anaheim CoC President Todd Ament was called to the mic! (“All riiiiiight!”) At one point, after he asked whether people wanted to keep the Angels in town (“Yeeeeeeees”) and I had panned to show that there was hardly anyone out of the frame, I apparently decided that I had to pan the camera at a higher angle to make sure no one was listening from the palm trees towering above. There wasn’t.

Ament, a shrewd negotiator on behalf of the City and trying to obtain the best value for its citizens, told everyone that the stadium was in sort of lousy condition but that was OK because the person negotiating a lower price — actually a non-price — with the Angels would bail them out. Is that great negotiating or what? He described Moreno being able to build “Sportstown” — but he didn’t mention that he would instead likely sell off the right to do so, most likely to someone who had prompted arrangements for this very rally, and that the City’s General Fund would not benefit from the economic activity there. (Was that provision critical to include for Moreno to agree to keep the Angels here? No one even suggested that it was.)

Ament then touted the “Anaheim gets $200 million in added economic activity annually from Angels baseball” that Mayor Tom Tait would blow out of the water a few of hours later by asking an innocent question about how that was computed.

Then came my favorite line, spoken 10 minutes before the meeting was to begin: “So, we’ve got a lot of people here today….” Heh-heh — not so much, Todd. Neither speakers nor watchers.

Then he got right to the point: talking up the four members of the Council who were throwing money at the Chamber of Commerce like drunken sailors. He named them and asked for a big hand.

First speaker: Kevin, manager of “The Catch” restaurant, Curt Pringle’s “office away from office.” Seems like a nice guy. Hard to hear, unfortunately. His message was: “the Angels are good for the Catch’s business.” Yes, well, obviously — the Catch is the only restaurant located in their parking lot. This is a bit like my wife telling the Brea City Council that they should give me a grant because it helps fund our family’s activities. (It’s true — I do create jobs! Just not many.)

Shortly before he stopped speaking, my phone croaked on being force-fed a menu of Ament. I deleted some older videos and continued. I missed part of the second speech following Ament’s intro, which was failed Pringle Ring candidate for City Council Steve “Chavez” Lodge, who introduced himself as the brother of the guy who does radio’s “Sports Lodge.”

Lodge asserted that the Angels have been here for over 50 years and “generated billions in commerce …” If you including everything before 1996, when the City may have had a more reasonable lease agreement may have been true — but we know that the Angels haven’t generated much direct income since 1996 and much what income they have generated would no longer come into City coffers under this proposed lease. (Does Steve Lodge know, or care, or understand how many zeroes there are in a billion? I don’t know.) But what was nice was that he finished that sentence “for Anaheim, the surrounding region, and the state.” OK — then isn’t it too bad that ANAHEIM IS THE ONLY ENTITY BEING ASKED TO GIVE UP ITS ASSETS IN THIS DEAL? Of course, that’s the sort of thing that should primarily matter to representatives of the City of Anaheim, such as the City Council — as well as to those of us “outsiders” who’d like to see the City deal with its homelessness, social services, crime, and other related problems. (Those do affect the rest of the County, after all.)

Lodge talks about the importance of bringing pleasure to the City (the paying for which, again, the rest of the County doesn’t share — but of course they feel surely no pride or pleasure in the Los Angeles Angels; it’s just an Anaheim thing. That’s why the team is named for … uh, forget it.) He points out that Moreno has supported local charities with the proper Biblical 10% of his billionaire’s income — no, wait — maybe more like some millionths of his wealth, but it should still be enough to demand our giving him prime city property. (Actually “leasing” to him — which sounds like it’s less good, but is actually a better deal for him because of tax considerations.)

Next came another retread from public comments: Bill Yates, head of the Anaheim Restaurant Council. In his 45 second speech, he carefully avoided saying anything too definite about how great this would be for anyone other than The Catch — calling the Angels “very valuable to this community in terms of the number of jobs they create in restaurants throughout the city” without elaboration or conviction — and then said that Anaheim’s restaurants are good , which they are, but which is not the point. (Little Arabia isn’t great because of the Angels.)

Then Ament comes back at 2:23 in the video and says “well that’s all the niceties.” He’s being (over)paid (with public money) to stick a shiv into Mayor Tom Tait — the only actual businessman on the Council — upon request for not going along with the giveaway.

Ament tells the “crowd” that Moreno is an owner who is willing to invest in developing that parking lot. Really? Fine — then put a provision in the contract that allows him to do so personally, but that requires that he share any income from the sale or other financial dealing from the non-ballpark part of the property 60-40 with the City (the City gets the 60), because if leasing the land worth more than the $1/year he’s paying for it then why does he rather than the City get to keep the profit off of it? If he’s doing it himself, that’s one thing, but if he can sell it the next day, why does he get the money?

(Like others, I doubt that Moreno is even asking for this. The impetus is likely coming from the people who want to use Moreno to lease the property and sell the leaseholding rights to them.)

Now here it comes:

The unfortunate thing is that there are those in our community, and unfortunately including our Mayor, that are spinning it as a giveaway.

This is because if the City has an asset that can generate income and it allows someone else to take virtually all of the income from that asset, it is in effect giving away that income.

It’s the last thing from a giveaway that I could ever see.  Here we have this great owner and we want to keep other communities who’d give a billion dollars to bring a team like this to their community.

Name one.  Let’s see their proposal.  If he moves out of the area, he loses the ginormous TV contract with Fox Sports.  If they didn’t extend the lease, he’d have no chance of getting a suitable stadium in time.  Who exactly does he think we’re competing with?

We don’t have to put up a dime.

Let me put this in terms Ament can understand.  Anaheim has a real estate asset that is capable of producing lots of income over the next 66+ years.  The proposal is that Anaheim should give away virtually all of the income it could expect to get from that asset  during that most-of-a-century.   That’s putting up a hell of a lot more, in terms of lost income, than “a dime”!

(Yes, right now Moreno could encumber that asset.  But if he bolts from the lease, he loses that right.  The City’s negotiators should be instructed to negotiate that provision away, for reasonable consideration.  Maybe we need a huge new parking garage — with the City, Moreno, and Disney chipping in and sharing in parking revenue — to make up for the parking spaces lost from building Sportstown.)

The piece of land that we’re going to put in the deal are going to be developed, and then the profits from that are going to improve our assets as a city —

Whoa.  Did Ament read the proposed MOU?  Does he mean anything more than refurbishing the Stadium — which is for the Angels’ benefit over the course of the lease, and the City doesn’t even get the paltry financial benefits that it did in the last lousy lease!

… Let’s let the Mayor know that we want him to get into good-faith negotiation with the Angels and keep them here.

I’m going to put this in boldfaced red:

The Mayor is the only one in the City Council who WANTS to “get into good-faith negotiations with the Angels.”  That’s why he wants to be able to agendize this item and publicly discuss how to instruct the negotiators to the benefit of BOTH parties.  The four foxes of the City Council majority want to enter into BAD faith negotiations with the counter-party — mostly not the Angels but MORENO PERSONALLY — not because they want the deal to be unfair to the Angels but they want it to be unfair to the hen-house that they are SUPPOSED to represent.

Arte Moreno does not need this deal; the foxes negotiating on behalf of the hen-house — Curt Pringle, his paid lackey Todd Ament, “Baseball Charlie” Black and his publicly funded team, and the Council majority that fears and love Pringle more than their own constituents — WANT him to have it for THEIR OWN benefit!

The only “giveaway” would be to lose this team.  So please join us inside the Council meeting and let’s let them all know that the Angels want to stay in Anaheim.

“At any cost to the public,” he forgot to add.

It would be nice to see more questions asked of City staff at Council meetings about this 155-acres of prime real estate.  Unfortunately, Jordan Brandman’s puppetmaster’s resolution will prevent the only person on the Council inclined to ask such questions — whether from the dais during meetings or conceivably at all — from doing so.  So do you find these few speeches so convincing that you have no possible questions left?


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)