If you’ve been reading Halos Heaven for a decent amount of time, especially in recent, frustrating Angels seasons, then you’ll be quite familiar with this site’s modus operandi, which is to dial up colorful and passionate vitriol or criticisms towards the team, whenever necessary, pulling no punches. When I say “team”, that mainly means the front office, and when I say “front office”, I mean the Halos’ owner himself, Arte Moreno.
He’s avoided being mentioned on the site in recent months, however, as he’s been largely quiet on the media front in 2017, letting his new-ish GM badass Billy Eppler do his thing without any interference from Moreno. The team had some turbulence throughout the 2014-2015 calendar years, and since then, it seems like the Halos brass, Moreno included, have tried to keep their heads down, focused on their soft rebuild and selling tickets and nothing else. To his credit, when we HAVE heard from Moreno in the past year or so, he’s been saying/doing the right things, making Halos Heaven write POSITIVE (gasp!) Arte Moreno coverage.
It’s weird, I know. It’s about to get even weirder, too, as it appears I’ve been moved to defend, or at the very least, explain, the Angels front office against some recent controversy that has been cooked up by the OC Weekly. It all started yesterday, when the long-running, long-standing bastion of Orange County print journalism put out a story claiming the Angels want to build a 12 foot-tall wall near the portion of the Angels Stadium parking lot that connects to the river bed/flood control channel.
First off, some quick background: If you’re an OC resident, then you are surely aware of the rising homeless population, most notably in the rows tents that line the river bed area parallel to the 57 freeway, between Katella and Chapman, right along the property line of the Big A. Sadly, those tents have become more and more abundant in the last year alone, and there have been numerous articles about what can be done to give these people some shelter or any other helping hand. The remedy is still unclear, and in the meantime, it’s created some disagreement between the Angels and the County of Orange.
The disagreement between the team and county is ended up as fodder for the Weekly’s hit piece on the Halos, titled “Forget Trump's Wall: Angels Ask County for 12 ft.-High Fence to Keep Out Homeless from Stadium”. In case you’re not familiar with OCW, it should be pointed out that they are, for the most part, always fighting the good fight against racism, corruption and other injustices perpetrated upon the working class people of OC, typically by The Man (corporations, rich people, law enforcement, etc).
As a proud leftist and aging punk activist with a large reflexively-contrarian streak in me who also LOVES to put the screws to the Angels’ front office, this type of story should be a giant piece of red meat to sink my teeth into for a good couple of weeks, at the very least. The problem, though, is it’s not really true and OC Weekly seem to be willfully misinterpreting the Halos’ statements on the homeless situation near the stadium. So here I am, about to stick up for the red polo brigade and, yes, Arte Moreno himself.
The main crux of the OCW article is this letter that Angels chairman, Dennis Kuhl, sent to County of Orange CEO Frank Kim, back in June:
Now, put that letter up against the title of the OC Weekly article, or paragraphs like this...
The letter then stated that during a phone call the County decided to no longer honor the commitment for a simple fence. So instead, the Angels think a fine "compromise" is a 12-foot-high wall to keep the homeless away from their property.
The Angels didn't return a request for comment by press time. But homeless advocates organized a picket event on Friday outside Angel Stadium called "Housing not Walls." "Taxpayers should not be paying for the Angels at all," said homeless advocate Lou Noble. "If they want a wall, they should be paying for it themselves. It's not right."
...and you quickly notice that the Angels organization has said nothing of the sort so far. If the OC Weekly were to have read that letter with honest eyes, they’d have seen that it basically makes the following points:
-The Angels and County of Orange had a deal to get improvements made to the fence that runs along the parking lot and riverbed area, but now the county doesn’t want to do the improvements any more.
-The growing homeless encampment has caused a few incidents, including a joyride someone took on a bulldozer through the parking lot, making the Angels increase security but also making them want to see the 40-year-old fence get updated and/or replaced.
-The Angels noticed that the county was using some state-of-the-art climb/cut-proof fencing, called ClearVu, in other places or projects recently, more or less stating “Hey, we see you guys are doing that stuff elsewhere. Maybe you could do that for this situation?”
-Ultimately, Kuhl ends the letter by saying “OK, so I get that you don’t want to help out with the fence situation, but it was worth a shot. At the very least, could you sign something that holds us harmless in case the deteriorating fence leads to some liability issues?”
And that’s it. You’ll notice that nowhere did the Angels demand a 12-foot wall be built by the County of Orange, nor will you notice or find any story that says this 12-foot wall SUGGESTION gained any traction or footing in the months since the letter was sent. The letter states, in summation, “Hey, you said you would fix that fence. Maybe you could use that ClearVu wall you’ve used other places already. No? OK, then, well could you at least sign a waiver or hold-harmless agreement so we don’t have any liability exposure for something that isn’t our fault?”
Now, the problem with this interpretation is that it doesn’t really lend itself to a good headline, nor does it produce any outrage towards The Man. This is coming from someone who lives to take shots at the powers that be, especially Arte Moreno, but I prefer to do that when there is actually some fire, and not just smoke, although I argue that this story doesn’t have smoke, either.
That doesn’t stop OCW from running their attention-grabbing headline, though, or spawning another article on the subject, in which protesters gather outside of Angels Stadium to say stuff like:
Protesters gathered at the intersection of World Champion Way and Rampart to inform fans of how Arte Moreno is demanding a 12-foot wall across their parking lot to cover up the homeless riverbed.
Advocates tried to inform them that Moreno's proposed wall would get paid by the County aka their tax money.
It should be pointed out, of course, that neither of those excerpts contain any true information. Arte Moreno isn’t demanding a 12-foot wall, and therefore there is no tax money of ours that is going to building said wall. That wont stop some from running with this story, but at that point, it’ll be saying more about their penchant for putting their crusader spirit over actual facts than it will about any important criticism that needs to be levied against the Halos.
Don’t worry, though, Halos Heaven faithful. If Arte Moreno and the Angels ever give us actual reason to believe this stuff is going to go down, then I’ll be there, gleefully ready to take him to task, and armed with a stockpile of assorted, tailor-made insults. This just isn’t one of those times.