A Clockwork Orange: Why the Big A Must Remain Shovel-Ready

Dig in! Photo courtesy Southern California Gas Co.

There may be an alternative use for a giant shovel that showed up in front of the Big A in Anaheim.

Representatives of the city, the Angels, Southern California Gas Co., and Anaheim Fire & Rescue used the 30-foot shovel on April 20 to promote National Safe Digging Month. Close to 3,000 cases of people damaging underground infrastructure without having first dialed 8-1-1 were logged last year by SoCalGas, which claims 99 percent of those would have been avoided had diggers called first to determine the likelihood of hitting a utility line.

Now that 8-1-1 awareness has been properly raised, the monster shovel should be kept around. The April day the shovel was displayed at Angel Stadium ended with the team one-half game behind the American League West-leading Houston Astros.

That was when the Angels were still riding a red-hot start energized by the arm and bat of rookie two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, who was putting up numbers as a pitcher and a hitter that had not been seen in the majors since Babe Ruth.

But on June 8, Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which the Angels acknowledged would require the player taking off most of the rest of the season to recover. Then, two nights later, ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported that Ohtani’s injury is far more serious and will likely necessitate Tommy John surgery that would keep him off the mound until the 2020 season.

The Angels countered the ESPN report on June 11, saying it is still too early to tell if the reconstructive surgery will be needed, holding out hope that platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections Ohtani is receiving will spare him the knife. But by that moment, the Angels found themselves in third place, sandwiched between the Mariners and Astros (who were tied for first at the time) and the fourth-place A’s, who were only three games behind the Halos.

So, yes, keep that mammoth shovel around because your Anaheim Angels of Anaheim may very well need it to dig out of a quickly forming hole.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“You know why divorce is expensive? Because it’s worth it.”

—Kelly Dodd, with the familiar ring of words written by a reality-show producer, in the trailer for season 13 of The Real Housewives of Orange County, which premieres July 16 on Bravo.

JAGGED LITTLE PILLS
When I read in May that a bunch of Central and Northern California counties had banded together in a federal lawsuit against multiple pharmaceutical companies because of their roles in the opioid crisis, I wondered why Orange County didn’t pile on. After all, we’re ground zero for fatal opioid overdoses, especially among young adults in South County.

But then I recalled that the Orange County district attorney’s office and the Santa Clara County Counsel had already filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in 2014 against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Actavis and three companies known collectively as Teva.

In the trial that is scheduled to open June 18 in Orange County Superior Court, the companies are accused of false and misleading marketing of opioids by essentially misleading doctors and consumers about the dangers and ineffectiveness of opioids as long-term treatments for physical pain. On the trial’s eve, Oakland and Los Angeles County joined Orange and Santa Clara counties in the litigation.

“The prosecution of this case just grew substantially stronger with the County of Los Angeles and the city of Oakland joining us in this fight,” states DA Tony Rackauckas in a news release issued June 8. “We must hold these pharmaceutical companies responsible for their deceptive marketing tactics because people are dying and their families are suffering. Putting profits before patients is not only dangerous, but [also] irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, because the federal suit brought by California counties is similar to others that have been filed across the country, legal experts suspect it will be combined with ongoing nationwide opioid litigation in federal court in Ohio. So far, more than 500 public entities have lodged similar complaints.

TURNOUT BURNOUT
If you didn’t like the outcomes of Orange County primary elections, don’t blame those who voted, blame those who sat out.

In a county of 3.17 million people, there are 1,481,881 registered voters. On June 5, 440,247 votes were cast—either early, by mail or at the polls covering 1,561 voting precincts.

That’s a pathetic 29.7 percent turnout in what was billed as an extremely important primary election. So if you don’t like the choices you are left with for [INSERT ANY POLITICAL OFFICE] in the November general election, you know why.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK, FIRST RUNNER-UP
“Vernon Smith has a freaking Nobel Prize. If I told him don’t take Koch money, that would violate his academic freedom. He’s not asking for money from the Mafia.”

—Chapman University President Daniele Struppa, in Margot Roosevelt’s June 8 Orange County Register story, “$5 Million to Chapman University From Billionaire Charles Koch Sparks an Uproar.”

Koch and his brother David, who Forbes ranks as the eighth-richest people in the world, are the right’s version of the left’s sugar daddy George Soros. The Charles Koch Foundation funds Chapman’s Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy, which claims to be dedicated to the exchange of ideas in economics and the humanities.

However, critics allege the real agenda behind the center, which is jointly named after 18th-century economist Adam Smith and Chapman economist and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, is to hand-pick libertarian and “free-market” professors, offer classes that draw students of the humanities, and replace its fuzzy liberal programming with zero-regulation ideas.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.