This week at the Chico City Council meeting Sierra Nevada Brewery asked for and received a land-zoning change for about a half-acre of land it owns adjacent to its beer-making operation. The company wants to build an employee parking lot on land that is currently zoned medium- to high-density residential. Local conservative activist and political bully John Gillander objected to the rezone, noting the property would be better suited for low-income housing. This put the liberal council members in a bit of a pickle by potentially forcing them to agree with the frighteningly animated Gillander, who was on the surface making a case for the needs of the poor going up against the big beer company. What do you want, liberals? Much-needed low-income housing or a parking lot for a big factory?
City Manager Tom Lando did a lot to release the liberals from the uncomfortable predicament Gillander had created by noting “this would probably not be a prime site for housing” and the “key role this employer plays in our community.” Mayor Scott Gruendl added that the city already had a number of low-income housing projects slated for the area and it is not a good idea to concentrate such projects in one place. Councilmember Steve Bertagna, a conservative, lauded the brewery for the “amazing things it does in our community” and moved to allow the rezone. Councilmember Andy Holcombe, however, noting his awkward position of being in agreement with Gillander, voted against the rezone. Holcombe ran for office on a platform that included making sure the city’s low-income needs are met. He hasn’t had much success in that arena so he stuck to his guns here in a losing cause.
We get word that at last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Sierra Nevada Brewery was named Midsized Brewery of the Year (or something like that). Sierra Nevada’s Steve Dresler was named Brewmaster of the Year (Midsized Brewery Division) and the company’s Bigfoot Ale and India Pale Ale each won Gold Medals in their class.
It’s not easy being a fan of any sports team based in Cleveland. Look what happened to the Indians this year. They make this torrid bid to overtake the faltering White Sox, pulling within one-and-a-half games (a game-and-a-half lead in the wild-card race) with only seven games left in the season. Then they lose six out of those seven and are out of it. I had no idea when I chose to become a Cleveland sports fan that things would go this way. In 1964 the Cleveland Browns won the NFL title by beating the Baltimore Colts 27 to 0. My dad took me, my brother and his buddy Jim Matozel to a motel in Medina, Ohio to watch that game on TV. Incredibly it was blacked-out in the Cleveland area because the game was not a sell-out. (Why, people have asked me since, didn’t your dad just take you to the football game? I can’t answer that—I was only 8 at the time, but I suspect a motel room was cheaper than four tickets to Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.) Based on that win, so early in my career as a Cleveland fan, I figured championships would come along on a regular basis. They haven’t. In fact, that 1964 win was the last time any Cleveland sports team won a championship. What a drought.
Just when you start feeling over the hill, or at least close to the top, something wonderful happens. Recently I was about one-third of the way across the Flume Street crosswalk, headed back to my office, when a backward-baseball-cap-wearing college-aged fellow driving a green Honda Civic came tearing across Second Street right at me. I had to do a little dance to get out of his way. When I turned around to get a look at the person who had just about killed me, he yelled, “Fuck you punk!” I haven’t been called a punk in probably 20 years. Thank you, sir.