California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Nov. 18.

California is so flush it may have to refund taxpayers.
Spectacular ranch on Eel River to become public park.
And the San Clemente genealogist who is transforming policing.



California is on track to have so much money that it will have to give some of it back to taxpayers, according to a new analysis by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report predicts a $31 billion surplus for the 2022 budget year thanks to soaring tax collections from the state's richest residents. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wanted to increase spending on infrastructure. A.P. | L.A. Times


Julio Garay during his murder trial at the Madera County Superior Court on Sept. 29.

Larry Valenzuela, via CalMatters

Despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, California often fails to disarm abusers. The price of inaction has been borne by women like Calley Garay, a 32-year-old mother of three who sought help from a court in June 2020 as she made plans to escape her husband. “He has always told me that a restraining order is not bulletproof and that he will find me,” she wrote. A month later, he did. CalMatters


Washington Post editorial board on California’s plan to close the state's last nuclear power plant:

"Closing down Diablo Canyon would be the definition of climate incoherence. With only a few years left on the plant’s license, California should reverse course. Indeed, political leaders across the country should be trying to keep existing nuclear plants open for as long as possible, not closing them prematurely.”


Northern California


In September, UC Davis quietly added caste to its anti-discrimination policy, making it possibly the first public university to codify the Hindu social system as a protected category. Other campuses are facing pressure to follow suit. In a sign of how sensitive the problem is, students who lobbied for the change have remained anonymous for fear of reprisals against them and their families. S.F. Chronicle | Quartz


The Court of Master Sommeliers, wine's most prestigious group, moved to strip six men of their master sommelier titles over accusations of sexual misconduct. The allegations against the men — including Northern California figures Fred Dame, Robert Bath, and Matt Stamp — were first aired in an explosive 2020 N.Y. Times article, in which 21 women said they were sexually harassed, manipulated, or assaulted by male master sommeliers. Press Democrat | Eater


Dean Witter used the property as both a working ranch and a personal retreat.

Bill McDavid

In 2018, a 42-square-mile ranch on the Eel River owned by descendants of late financier Dean Witter was up for grabs on the luxury real estate market. Instead, it's set to become a public park after the Wildlands Conservancy closed escrow on the property Tuesday. Spanning Mendocino and Trinity counties, the stretch of mountains and valleys features a 10-bedroom lodge and two herds of Roosevelt elk. “It’s just as scenic as anything in the national park system,” said the Conservancy's Frazier Haney. S.F. Chronicle | A.P.


"Street scene at Uganda Liquors, Haight and Masonic, San Francisco." 1990

"There is much to see here, but to really know San Francisco, it has to be lived.”

Dave Glass, 71, is best known for his pictures of crews moving 12 Victorian homes to another block in the 1970s. But he has been capturing the changing face of San Francisco for more than five decades. A purist who shoots in black-and-white, his images depict a city that has transformed even as its classic features — the fog, the hills, the light, the energy — have stayed true. It's Nice That

See Glass' fantastic "Views of San Francisco" series. 👉 Flickr


Southern California


CeCe Moore appeared on "Megyn Kelly TODAY" in 2018.

Zach Pagano/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Rick Bart, a homicide detective turned sheriff, had been haunted by the killings of a young couple since 1987. A genetic genealogist found the murderer in two hours on a Saturday. CeCe Moore, of San Clemente, first had a career in musical theater. Today, she has become one of the country's most sought-after crime solvers through a forensic technique that detectives describe as akin to magic. A fascinating profile. 👉 New Yorker


Los Angeles Unified School District officials said on Tuesday that students will be required to wear masks indoors during the spring semester, even with all staff and increasing numbers of students vaccinated. In schools where fewer than 85% of students are vaccinated — primarily elementary schools — children will also have to wear masks outside. Los Angeles Daily News | KTLA

"Not now." "Jan. 1, 2022." "Immediately — with enough vaccinations." What experts are saying about when to unmask kids. 👉 NPR


When the Southern California high schools Mater Dei and St. John Bosco play football, pretty much anyone who steps on the field will one day become a college football player. Neither team has lost to another California school since 2015. The football programs have risen to dominance by recruiting from well beyond their own backyards, the N.Y. Times reported: "The quaint ideal of suiting up for a neighborhood school has given way as some players make hourslong commutes to further their football ambitions."


Jay Parker posed in front of Otis at the San Diego Zoo in 2009.

In 2009, a couple photographed each other in front of the hippo exhibit at the the San Diego Zoo. Shared online, the pictures became a sensation thanks to a photobombing hippo named Otis who displayed what looked like a a big, goofy grin. Facebook posts and news articles on the the "smiling hippo" were shared as far as Britain, New Zealand, and China. In a tweet Monday, the zoo said Otis had died, euthanized to end discomfort from a joint and spinal disease. He was 45. S.D. Union-Tribune | A.P.


Sensorio has expanded with shimmering towers.

Chris Hardy, via Sensorio

Sensorio, a field of nearly 60,000 colorful glass orbs in the wine region of Paso Robles, was already a big hit. The N.Y. Times called it an “earthbound aurora borealis.” Now it's even more spectacular, with a second attraction of 69 illuminated towers made from wine bottles.'s Julie Tremaine paid a visit. "There are very few places I’ve been where I experienced such a serene sense of meditative contemplation of the power of art," she wrote.


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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