California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, March 5.

Methodists' L.G.B.T. vote widens rift with western clergy.
California's most prolific serial killer dies at 85.
And a CliffsNotes guide to the best food city in America.



A Methodist church in California's gold country offered a message of welcome.

A vote by United Methodist Church leaders to strengthen a ban on same-sex marriage and L.G.B.T. clergy has reverberated across California congregations and prompted talk of a split.

Western bishops said they won't abide by the new rules. "We're going to live the way we have been living," said the Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Area. Wall Street Journal
A pastor at San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church said his church was overwhelmingly opposed to the vote. "It's doing nothing to attract people to our church," he said. The Tribune
The confrontation deepened a rift with San Francisco's Glide Memorial, which is already fighting with the parent organization over the church's Tenderloin property. S.F. Chronicle

California's Supreme Court upheld the state's ability to strip a retirement perk from public employees, while sidestepping the larger issue of whether pensions can be cut once promised. For decades, the "California rule" has treated government pensions as sacrosanct. The ruling preserved that protection. Both pension reformers and labor groups declared victory.


Supporters of Planned Parenthood gathered in Los Angeles in 2017.

Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

California and 20 other Democratic-led states announced they would sue the Trump administration to block a new regulation restricting access to abortion. Opponents of the rule said it would strip millions of taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood and give it to faith-based family planning organizations. "This is 2019, not 1920," Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the N.Y. Times.


Juan Corona in 1978.

Bettmann Archive, via Getty Images

Juan Corona died in prison of natural causes. California’s most prolific serial killer, the Mexican-born labor contractor was convicted of killing and mutilating 25 migrant workers then burying them on farms in the Sacramento Valley in the early 1970s. He explained that the victims were "winos" who were trespassing in the orchards. Law enforcement believed Corona may have killed many more people. He was 85.


Another atmospheric river was gearing up to bring fresh threats of flooding and mudslides to California on Tuesday and Wednesday. Forecasters said most of the state could get drenched, with the heaviest downpour in the central part of the state. Evacuations were ordered in burn areas around Santa Barbara.


Starlings form mesmerizing patterns in the sky over California.

Nick Dunlop

Every so often, the clouds seem to turn black and dance above the fields of California. They are swarms of European starlings that form synchronized blobs known as murmurations. When a hungry peregrine falcon joins the mix, one of the avian world's most heart-pounding aerial dramas plays out. Here's a series of images and video by a California photographer who tracks the displays.


Northern California


San Francisco has the nation's highest rents.

San Francisco's median rent on a one-bedroom apartment hit a new peak: $3,690, a 9-percent increase from a year earlier. That's even as the same figure dropped nationally. Rent in San Francisco is now nearly 30 percent higher than New York City, and double that of Miami. It helps explain why San Francisco households earning up to $117,400 now qualify as "low income."


It seemed too good to be true when a donor gave an Oakland school four works of Asian art with an estimated value of $2.8 million. After years of relying on bake sales, the school hired an admissions director, a web designer, and a Latin teacher. Then, as school leaders readied to sell the artworks, they were hit with devastating news: the paintings were fake, essentially worthless. The school now faces imminent closure.


Workers grabbed lunch at Google's Mountain View campus.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

When Google did a survey to see whether the company was underpaying women, they got a shocking surprise. Turns out more men than women were being underpaid for doing similar work. As a result, Google handed out raises to thousands of its male employees. The analysis comes as the tech giant faces a class-action lawsuit accusing it of denying opportunities to women and systematically paying them less than men.


Jeff Fontana/Bureau of Land Management

Here's a view of the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail in Lassen County. Stretching along 25 miles of abandoned railroad line, the corridor alternates between craggy canyons and luxuriant upland forests of pine and fir. The S.F. Chronicle called it "the best mountain bike trail in California that nobody knows about."


Southern California


Widely shared photos of a Nazi-themed student party have rattled Newport Beach, but they come as little surprise to other students. At Newport Harbor High School, slurs and swastikas are not uncommon, students told the L.A. Times. Hispanic students ate lunch in a gated quad, one former student said, and "white students would joke, 'That's where they belong, behind the wall.'"


Sheriff Alex Villanueva is heading toward a showdown with county supervisors.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

An extraordinary test of wills is unfolding between Los Angeles County supervisors and the new elected sheriff, Alex Villanueva. The county board is seeking an injunction against Villanueva over his reinstatement of a deputy, Caren Carl Mandoyan, who volunteered on Villanueva’s campaign after being fired by the former sheriff over allegations of domestic abuse.

The county determined that the rehired deputy is no longer an employee and directed him to return his badge and gun. But Mandoyan indicated he plans to stay on the job, and Villanueva has shown no sign of reversing course.


Luke Perry and Jennie Garth in Beverly Hills in 1991.

Ron Galella/WireImage

Luke Perry died at 52 after suffering a stroke. The actor embodied 1990s cool with his portrayal of a bad-boy heartthrob on the television drama "Beverly Hills, 90210," a role that overshadowed the rest of his career. "I'm going to be linked with him until I die, but that's actually just fine," Perry once said. "I created Dylan McKay. He's mine."


"Almond Sorbet with Mandarin Ice" by Nightshade.

The hottest restaurant in Los Angeles right now is Nightshade, a stylish ode to Asian-American cuisine in the Arts District. That's according to Eater Los Angeles, which unveiled a CliffsNotes guide to the best food city in America.


Photo: San Diego History Center

Here's Mary Chase Walker, San Diego's first regular schoolteacher. In 1866, she brought a black woman to lunch at a hotel to repay the kindness the woman had shown during a bout of seasickness. Appalled, a number of white patrons stormed out of the restaurant. Outrage spread, and more than half of the students in Walker's class were removed by parents. She resigned under pressure. In later years, Walker supported the suffragette movement and served the needy. An elementary school in San Diego is named in her honor.


On the latest episode of the California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman interviews longtime California writer Miriam Pawel on the future of public education in the state. Listen and subscribe.

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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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