The Year In Letting Go, Go, Angels!

Los Angeles Ashes

Taking advantage of the LA market doesn't just mean attracting more people to the park—the Angels drew more than 3 million last year, anyway—it means more Angels jerseys and caps sold around the country, it means a higher profile, it means more corporate sponsorship, it means the ultimate exposure that only two cities can provide—New York and LA. But you knew that. It's not just about kids in Westwood wearing Angels caps, but kids in Bakersfield and Utah and Tennessee. It means better local TV and radio deals—as of today, the Dodgers have much better deals. It means more money. And Moreno has made it clear he would plow that money back into the team.

As it stands, Moreno seems interested in any big-name free agent who becomes available; when this year's jewel, Carlos Beltran, went on the market, the Angels were one of the first teams mentioned. But Beltran will likely sign with the Yankees because they can pay him more. If Moreno had more cash to spend, I have no doubt he would spend it. Instead of one big free agent each year, think in terms of two and three. Add to that the fact that being a Latino owner, with some of the game's highest-profile Latino players on the roster, the Angels could become a destination for the game's other great Latino players as well as anybody simply interested in winning.

Any true Angels fan recognizes this. You are, after all, an Angels fan, not an Anaheim fan. You root for the Angels, not Harbor Boulevard. For any true Angels fans interested in seeing their team take the next, ultimate step, giving up "Anaheim" for "Los Angeles" is a simple thing, as easy as it was giving up California for Anaheim.

It's not about the name, people. It's not even about winning. It's about winning big.

Think big.

Yankees suck.

Don't Let This Happen to You

The Year in Suburban Decline

by nick schou

This was a good and bad year for Huntington Beach. Good in that the cops didn't round up hundreds of city residents on July 4 and force them to spend the night in a urinal-free holding cell. That hasn't happened for, oh, eight years. But it was bad for cops refusing to arrest corrupt politicians long after they've been exposed for, oh, shall we say, the federal crime known as bank fraud. It was good in that the city was smart enough to trademark the name Surf City. Bad in that surfers kept getting sick when they were actually in the surf. It was good in that the city didn't have a federal jury telling them to pay the family of some unarmed kid such as Antonio Saldivar millions of dollars for having shot him dead. Bad in that a federal grand jury indicted the mayor. Again.

Surf City, here we go.

This year, Huntington Beach approved something called Pacific City, a project that will bring brand-new luxury condominiums to the city's downtown area. While that seems innocuous, Pacific City happens to be located in a former oilfield. Nearby residents protested the plan because it will involve unearthing countless tons of potentially contaminated soil. Their concern was likely augmented by a Weekly story from March that reported how in 1991, a year before the city passed an ordinance making it easier for oil companies to develop their properties, it passed another ordinance relaxing the city's soil contamination standards—by a factor of 10.

That story, "Bitter Harvest" (March 26), was about how several children in a tiny area of southeast Huntington Beach have died from a rare form of brain-stem cancer. The one thing they had in common other than living in a neighborhood dotted with abandoned oil fields was playing at a park across the street from a hazardous-waste dump. Although officials insist there aren't enough dead kids to warrant further study—apparently that magic number lies somewhere beyond four—on March 18, an inactive oil well at the dumpsite burst hundreds of gallons of crude into the air, inundating the surrounding homes with toxic goo.

Of course, when you're talking slime, you have to head down to City Hall. Last October, the Weekly reported that former mayor Pam Julien Houchen had illegally converted apartments into condominiums—elevating a municipal crisis involving dozens of unsuspecting city residents victimized by unscrupulous local realtors into a political-corruption scandal reminiscent of that which recently ousted Mayor Dave Garofalo. Garofalo pled guilty two years ago to political corruption charges stemming from his habit of voting to provide lucrative city contracts to advertisers in his throwaway newspaper.

By the end of the year, Houchen's planning commissioner Jan Shomaker had resigned her city job and federal prosecutors had indicted Houchen on 18 counts of bank fraud.

The city did manage to avoid a few other major disasters this past year. On March 2, city voters overwhelming defeated Measure E, a city initiative backed by Republican lobbyist Scott Baugh and his former client AES, which operates an aging, inefficient, polluting eyesore of a power plant along Pacific Coast Highway. If passed, Measure E would have shrunk the City Council by one-third and made it that much easier for powerful special interests—i.e., AES—to buy off politicians.

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