The Times transcribes Arte Moreno’s latest threats, lies and demands!

We hope our Mayor is not complicit in Arte’s Shaikin Shakedown,
because we don’t need a Shaikin-Aitken Shakedown.

And this new Anaheim Council likes to stress over “Shakedowns!” Did you guys see this article last week in the LA Times, under the byline of sports columnist Bill Shaikin? Published Monday March 20, it was entitled “Column: The First Two Stadium Deals Collapsed. Why would the Angels and Anaheim Try Again?”

Most of my friends’ angst has focused on the quotes at the end from Mayor Ashleigh Aitken: 

“Aitken said she was ‘not committed’ to that [2019 Sidhu] plan, although she said she would be willing to consider it as a basis to start talks with the Angels.  ‘I will be very happy to talk to them and do a current analysis of the deal and see,’ she said. ‘I bet we have more common ground than we disagree on.’”

That sounds awful close to Ashleigh having second thoughts, and coming to terms, with a giveaway she called a “corrupt, no-bid deal” back when she was campaigning.  And maybe she did say exactly this, and no context would help.  But this does come at the end of a Shaikin piece that could have practically been written by Arte’s publicists, and it’s clear that Shaikin was trying to get that answer out of her.

Who knew that Mr. Shaikin was such an Arte shill?  We sat with him at the Brown Act hearings, and his pieces back then seemed objective.  I’m gonna point out lots of false and questionable claims he wrote in this piece, but before we do that, I believe there’s an Elephant In The Room:

Yeah, what ABOUT the Surplus Land Act?  Doesn’t the Surplus Land Act, which threw a major wrench into the Giveaway last time, pretty much make any similar negotiations moot? I would think so!

But anyway, back to the Times piece, in which Shaikin (or Arte) tries to convince us that the 2019 giveaway hammered out between Sidhu and Arte was just great:

“…The dead deal would have accomplished a raft of city objectives.”

A raft?  What constitutes a raft?  Arte-Shaikin obliges here:

“The city would have been out of the stadium business, in which it was not making money. The Angels would have picked up the costs of renovating the stadium, or building a new one.”

This is, like, what they call an old CANARD, isn’t it?  We all know we were never “in the stadium business,” and never on the hook for renovation costs, under the terms of the current lease.  Am I wrong?  More raft:

“The city would have generated a projected $652 million in tax revenue over 30 years from development, the costs of which would be borne by Moreno and/or development partners. The Angels would have pledged to play in Anaheim through 2050. The city would have gained more than 6,000 new homes.  And, after the city agreed to sell land valued at $325 million to Moreno for $150 million, Moreno later agreed to pay $96 million toward the construction of affordable housing elsewhere in Anaheim.”

How much of this is BS, exaggeration, simplification?  Questions begged: How was the land valued at the bargain basement price of $325 million?  How did THAT get magically halved to $150 million?  And that $96 million construction promise was out of the goodness of Arte’s heart, it sounds like?

After naming off many of the numerous problems facing the Sidhu Giveaway, Arte-Shaikin allows that

“Those are a lot of complications. There would be many more if the city and the Angels started negotiations from scratch.”

Really?  There would be “many more” complications if we started from scratch?  It’s a long piece, but Arte-Shaikin never deigns to name what those NEW “complications” would be.  Kind of an important assertion to back up, I’d think.

“Perhaps the city ought to put the deal that died last year back on the table, this time with transparency, and with public hearings…”

…bla bla bla.  Transparency being the shorthand for letting the public know each detail of how we are being ripped off, as though Sidhu’s secrecy was the biggest problem.

“[Arte] declined to say whether he would consider a third round of stadium negotiations with a city that twice within the past decade told him he had a deal.”

“Twice within the past decade?” You mean, Arte is still bitter about the 2013-14 $1-a-year thing falling through?  That was never finalized, thanks to Mayor Tait, so nobody authoritative ever told him he “had a deal.”

Shaikin spends many paragraphs relaying threats from Arte meant to strike fear into the hearts of Angels-loving Anaheimers:  He could still pack up and take the team any time he wants, or sell the team to someone even worse, and he doesn’t have to build jack shit, Angels fans can just walk over to OC Vibe.  Ashleigh helps him with those threats by providing the quote “I can’t imagine a future in Anaheim without the Angels.”

Rather than speculate over Shaikin’s motivation in becoming Arte’s mouthpiece, we should read this Times piece as a statement straight from Arte, with all its threats and its desire to re-instate the Sidhu Giveaway deal.  This is the latest of an endless string of Arte Shoes to Drop. He is forever dropping shoes. He has lots of shoes. He’s a billionaire. He has more shoes than Imelda Marcos.

We’re all used to him periodically threatening to take his team out of Anaheim, which was never gonna happen.  After last year’s scandals he said he was gonna sell the team, but nobody cared.  Then a couple months ago he said he changed his mind, he wasn’t gonna sell it even though he coulda made a record 3 BILLION.  Everyone said whatever, what’s he up to now?  And now we see that he’s trying to pressure us into re-instating Sidhu’s Giveaway.  Anaheim is being bullied again by this billionaire, and we can only hope the new Council and Mayor are on our side.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.