Remember why we’re here; don’t drop Anchor!

by Mick Rhodes |

So, Trustee Area 4 voters will finally decide next week who will represent them on Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education.

The Tuesday, July 25 special election was foisted upon us by a vocal minority of just 102 Trustee Area 4 voters who signed on to a petition circulated by Joshua Rogers. Rogers, you may recall, was among the nine candidates the board passed over on January 18 before appointing Hilary LaConte the temporary successor to its former president, Steven Llanusa, who resigned last December and has since been charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one of providing alcohol to a minor under 21. Aaron Peterson, who lost a relatively close race to Llanusa in November 2022, was also among the also rans in the appointment process.

Both Rogers and Peterson are on the ballot Tuesday. Also running is newcomer Alex McDonald.

Courier readers may recall I opposed this election from the get-go, primarily due to its exorbitant price tag of $273,000, with each dollar paid by CUSD and Claremont taxpayers.

The special election was a bad idea in January, and it’s a bad idea now. Nonetheless, it’s happening, and I hope for the best possible outcome of this debacle.

I urge Trustee Area 4 voters to remember why they’re going to the polls Tuesday; it’s not because the CUSD Board of Education couldn’t tamp down the storm that erupted after Llanusa was accused of impropriety. They did that with LaConte’s appointment. It’s not because there was a miscarriage of justice. The board didn’t slip one by voters. The board did the responsible thing under the circumstances and appointed a qualified former member to help stop the bleeding until the next election cycle.But that wasn’t enough for the special election proponents. They cried insider trading, and even when confronted with the insane $273,000 price tag, held on to the flimsy assertion that they’d been so wronged as to supersede all manner of common sense, fiscal and otherwise.

So here we are, on the precipice of their $273,000 temper tantrum.

I’m not a Trustee Area 4 voter, but if I was I’d surely want to send a message to those who would be so flagrantly wasteful.


I’ll know it when I see it
I know next to nothing about beer, other than when I like it. I couldn’t tell you what goes into a good brew, though I’m pretty sure it involves math and chemistry, so count me out. It’s sorta like what the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography: “I’ll know it when I see it.”

That’s why it was disheartening to hear last week of the planned closure of San Francisco’s beloved Anchor Steam Beer. Barring an 11th hour miracle, the Bay Area institution will cease operating August 1 and plans to liquidate its business.

Anchor Steam, founded in 1896, is the oldest brewery on the West Coast. It has been brewing its delicious “steam beer” in San Francisco for 127 years. That’s about 112 years before “craft beer” became a buzz phrase in the beverage industry.

What makes Anchor Steam so good is exactly what most American beer afficionados likely despise about it: it’s decidedly not an IPA. Talk about a buzz phrase, “IPAs” are ubiquitous. Why though, I wonder? They taste like a skunk got near the tank. Some taste like a whole family of skunks set up shop in there. What’s the appeal? I’ll never know.

But appealing they are to most Americans. Most all breweries around here are packed with IPAs, some near exclusively.

Anchor Steam has just always had the perfect mix of heartiness with its chestnut brown color, its mildly bitter, vaguely nutty flavor, and creamy head. It is neither sweet nor skunky. It’s the perfect beer.

On Monday, I heard San Francisco Chronicle Culture Critic Peter Hartlaub tell KCRW’s “Press Play with Madeline Brand” about the city’s heartbroken locals bracing for the seemingly imminent loss. Hartlaub also recalled some of the brewery’s previous “near death experiences,” including being destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and getting down to just one brewer for a time in the 1950s and ‘60s. Each time it was on the ropes Anchor Steam has been rescued by new investors.

Like many, I’m hoping a savior will step in and prop it up once more. And since last week’s announcement, interest has arisen on several fronts. One of them is San Francisco investor Mike Walsh, who launched a website, Raising the Anchor (, in hopes of gathering like-minded Anchor Steam enthusiasts who might be interested in helping to save the brewery. It’s a hopeful sign.

So why should you care about a private business that has fallen on hard times and is closing its doors? For one, it’s the oldest brewery on the West Coast of the U.S. by about a century. It’s the region’s only truly historic brewery. Secondly, it’d sure be nice if my favorite — and that of a lot of other beer drinkers, especially in San Francisco — was spared the indignation of “liquidation,” if only to help hold the increasingly lonely “not IPA” beachhead against the oncoming skunky tasting invasion.

It’s probably true there are great breweries out there that could step in and fill the sudsy void, but none have the historical gravitas of Anchor Steam. And consider the fact that us West Coasters have torn down so many beautiful old homes and buildings, especially in Los Angeles, and even here in Claremont. We’ve watched longtime brick and mortar businesses give way to online retailers and changing tastes. So here’s to hoping a 127-year-old San Francisco business can keep its name off of that sad list, because Anchor Steam makes something that tastes pretty damn good.


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