California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, July 23.

A menacing moment between wolf-lovers and ranchers.
A priest steals more than $95,000 from parishes.
And epic surfing photos from the hippie-infused 1970s.



One reason Gov. Gavin Newsom cited for his moratorium on the death penalty: It wasted billions of taxpayer dollars without making us safer. Yet, there's no evidence that his action is saving any money. That's because prosecutors across the state have carried on with capital cases. "The moratorium stops executions," an expert said. "It doesn't stop the machinery of death from moving forward." Sacramento Bee


Police officer Johnathon Silva pummeled an apparently mentally ill man in a library in March 2016.

San Jose State University

The latest sign that California's new police records transparency law is forcing greater accountability:

A few years ago, a San Jose State University cop beat the living daylights out of a troubled man accused of watching porn and touching himself in a library. The officer was fired but then reinstated on appeal. He later got a job on the Los Gatos police force. Then reporters got hold of video of the library beating using Senate Bill 1421. Now, after a public outcry, the officer has resigned. Bay Area News Group/KQED


The University of California accepted the largest and most diverse class of Californians ever for the 2019 fall semester. The system came under pressure to accept more Californians after it doubled the number of high-paying nonresident students in just five years. Of the new class, Asian Americans were the largest group at 35 percent, Latinos were 34 percent, whites 22 percent, African Americans 5 percent, and American Indians 0.5 percent. L.A. Times | A.P.


To see the southernmost glacier in the United States head out on Route 395, turn west at Big Pine, and march 10 miles into the Eastern Sierra. Along the way you'll encounter some of California's most dazzling lakes, including Second Lake, pictured above with Temple Crag. Better yet, do it in the fall and see the cottonwoods draped in the gold. Field Mag | California Through My Lens

On Route 395: "It may just be the best 200 miles for backpackers in America." Backpacker


Northern California


A priest stole more than $95,000 from Northern California parishes over several years, the Diocese of Santa Rosa announced. The scheme was discovered after Father Oscar Diaz, 56, got in a car crash and police found bags of cash in his car totaling more than $18,000. Further investigation turned up stacks of $100 bills at his office and home. It had been taken from collection plate offerings, the diocese said. Press Democrat | Mercury News


A wolf in Northern California, captured by a motion-sensing camera.

Working Circle Proactive Stewardship Program

The New Yorker investigated the conflict between wolf-lovers and ranchers in far Northern California.

It included this bracing account: A few years ago, a wolf advocate went to a tiny community in Siskiyou County to hold a workshop. Interrupting the presentation, a man in the audience said he didn't like people coming into town and dictating what people should and shouldn't do about wolves. Then more than 20 others stood and started chanting "Shoot, shovel, and shut up!" — an anti-wolf slogan. Several of them flashed handguns. New Yorker


Dave Chappelle lent his star power to the campaign to save the Punch Line

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Punch Line San Francisco has been saved. The storied comedy club had announced its closure after it was unable to come to a deal on a lease. Now, after a public campaign by Dave Chappelle and other comics, things appear to have been sorted out. The landlord, Morgan Stanley, gave the Punch Line a multiyear lease. S.F. Chronicle | S.F. Examiner


San Bruno needs housing, and the community supports adding it. So a developer proposed 425 new units. He did everything right: He spent millions on the approval process, he agreed to add car and bike parking, 64 affordable units, and a community space. He even pledged $10 million to offset the new residents' demand for public services. Then a no vote by a single council member killed the plan. "This stuff is going on all over the Peninsula," a pro-housing group said. S.F. Chronicle

Oakland's homeless population jumped 47 percent between 2017 and 2019, according to a new count. The surge is happening nearly everywhere in the Bay Area. S.F. Chronicle | Curbed San Francisco


Maya Angelou as a young woman.

Of nearly 90 statues in San Francisco, just two depict real-life women. Now there will be a third. A monument to Maya Angelou, who was the city's first African American female streetcar conductor, is being added outside the Main Library. S.F. Chronicle | S.F. Arts Commission

Here's a wonderful conversation between Angelou and Oprah about how the poet's mother encouraged her in the streetcar job. "I was afraid to tell my mother that I wasn't as strong as she thought I was." YouTube/OWN (~4 mins)


Cats everywhere.

There's a place along a riverbank not far from Fresno where hundreds of cats ramble, roll, and sun themselves on 12 acres of feline paradise. Founded a quarter century ago by a recent divorcee, the Cat House on the Kings claims to be California's largest no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. Bored Panda has a bunch of great photos. Bored Panda |


Southern California


A road was ruptured by the Ridgecrest earthquake.

Incredible before-and-after satellite images showed how the ground permanently shifted during the Ridgecrest magnitude 7.1 earthquake of July 5. In places the shift was as much as 13 feet, leaving long scars across the surface of the Mojave Desert. "I've never seen this before," an engineering geologist said. "It's really dramatic." L.A. Times

Flashback: Here's a fascinating picture of shifted rows of orange trees after a 1940 earthquake in Imperial Valley. Twitter/


Mom-and-pop establishments have been getting sued across Southern California over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act such as faded paint on handicapped parking spots. An O.C. Register investigation suggests that a single lawyer has been using "ghost" clients to extract settlements from hundreds of businesses. "All evidence points to Simon Chang being behind the entire scheme," a lawyer said. "It's pretty incredible." O.C. Register


A border motel in Calexico.

Fernando Bastidas, an American citizen, works in the Imperial Valley but he lives across the Mexican border in Mexicali. Why? His rent is $110 a month. "I've got a three-bedroom house, with three bathrooms and a three-car garage, all fenced up and everything," he said. The Desert Sun spent 12 hours at a donut shop in Calexico, Mexicali's California neighbor, hearing the stories of workers who cross the border every day to harvest the region's fruits and vegetables. Desert Sun


F.B.I. agents raided several government offices in Los Angeles as part of an investigation into how the city responded to an overbilling scandal at the Department of Water and Power. The authorities declined to discuss the investigation. "It looks bad," a political scientist said. "Nobody wants to believe that their city is going down a dark path." L.A. Times | LAist


Laguna Beach, 1971.

Jeff Divine

Jeff Divine, one of surfing's most celebrated photographers, grew up riding waves in San Diego in the 1960s. At a certain point, he once said, "getting the shot became almost as fulfilling as getting the wave." Here are selections of Divine's work from the hippie-infused 1970s, before corporate sponsorships and "kook cords." | Savage Thrills


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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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