California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 12.

Coachella becomes first to mandate "hero pay" for farmworkers.
National Republicans join effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
And a searing essay on California's flimsy form of progressivism.

Please note: The newsletter will pause for President's Day. Back in your inbox Tuesday.



California farmworkers have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Coachella on Wednesday became the first city in the country to mandate "hero pay" for farmworkers. Located in an agricultural valley 130 miles east of Los Angeles, the city unanimously approved an ordinance requiring businesses with essential workers to pay an additional $4 an hour for three months. "A lot of farmworkers have died,” one lawmaker said. “You can see the devastation.” Desert Sun | L.A. Times


Surveys in L.A. County and the Bay Area arrived at similar findings: schools in more affluent areas are moving faster to reopen than those in low-income areas. School leaders have cited a reluctance to return to classrooms in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. But the reopening disparity has researchers worried that poor students, already facing disproportionate learning loss, will fall even further behind. L.A. Times | Mercury News


Rep. Kevin McCarthy defended his attendance at his son's Central Coast wedding after the L.A. Times published a report on the gathering. On Dec. 5, as California entered the worst surge of the pandemic, about 15 people gathered for the outdoor ceremony in Cayucos, most of them maskless. McCarthy accused the Times of trying to tar him because he is a Republican. “Did our families get close to one another? Of course. Did we feel safe? Of course,” he said. “Would I celebrate this beautiful day ... again. You better believe it.” The Hill | A.P.




A recall supporter gathered signatures near Gov. Gavin Newsom's home in Fair Oaks on Jan. 19.

Gina Ferazzi/L.A. Times via Getty Images

National Republicans are now joining the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Republican National Committee is investing $250,000 to launch a digital and texting campaign encouraging Californians to sign a petition that would put the recall to a vote later this year. Once considered a long shot, the effort has now become, according one GOP operative, "one of the most important items on the national political scene this year.” Politico


For the first time in Sen. Dianne Feinstein's 29-year Senate career, a plurality of Californians hold negative views of her job performance. A poll showed that just 35% of voters approved of her work. Feinstein, 87, has lost favor among many Democrats who regard her as too moderate. Another finding from the poll: The top three most popular elected officials in California are Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Alex Padilla, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a reflection of the state's increasingly diverse population. KQED | L.A. Times


Socially distanced homeless tents in San Francisco on May 22, 2020.

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The N.Y. Times's Ezra Klein on the flimsy progressivism of California liberals: "In much of San Francisco, you can’t walk 20 feet without seeing a multicolored sign declaring that Black lives matter, kindness is everything and no human being is illegal. Those signs sit in yards zoned for single families, in communities that organize against efforts to add the new homes that would bring those values closer to reality."


A bill introduced this week would make California the first state to outlaw removing a condom during sex without consent, classifying it as sexual battery. Research on the practice, known as "stealthing," is limited, but one study found that 12% of women had experienced it. “This is an act that’s a violation of someone’s autonomy,” a lawyer said. “There’s the risk of pregnancy, there’s the risk of STIs, but also inherently it’s changing the entire nature of the sexual encounter.” Washington Post | L.A. Times


Northern California


“The scope is breathtaking.”

Federal agents seized more than a half-ton of methamphetamine in one of the largest such busts ever in Northern California. Officials described a criminal conspiracy that stretched from the Bay Area to Sinaloa, Mexico. Also seized were 500 grams of fentanyl and 40 pounds of cocaine and heroin. Charges were filed against 44 people. S.F. Chronicle | A.P.


Alicia Saddler sat by a shrine to her brother Angel Ramos, who was killed by a Vallejo cop in 2017.

Melina Mara/Washington Post via Getty Images

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Shane Bauer, a Bay Area journalist, about his reporting for the New Yorker on the excesses of the Vallejo Police Department. He recounted the case of one officer, Sean Kenney, who was involved in three killings within six months. "He was, after that, made detective," Bauer said.


Southern California


The tiny home community was squeezed onto a vacant lot with an irregular shape.

Lehrer Architects

North Hollywood welcomed the first residents to a new tiny home village for the homeless with an unusually cheerful color scheme. Designed by a high-powered architectural firm, the Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village includes showers, restrooms, Wi-Fi, and a laundry facility. The bright colors were chosen to create joy, one of the architects said. "Beauty is a rudiment of human dignity.” Architect's Paper | Dwell


Aaron Epstein, a 90-year-old Los Angeles man, spent $10,000 on two ads in the Wall Street Journal to complain about how slow his AT&T internet service is. Epstein was upset that he could only get speeds up to 3 Mbps, even as competitors offered 200 Mbps. Playing a movie through Roku, Epstein said, is like watching a slideshow: "This is not right. So I put the ad in the paper. And believe me, it's money well spent." KTVU


In case you missed it


Adam Ianniello

Five items that got big views over the past week:

Roughly 300 people still live in Bombay Beach, a dying hamlet on the edge of the Salton Sea. The photographer Adam Ianniello explored the strange beauty of a place that seems to resemble the people who live there.
Isaac Chotiner, famous for his politely unsparing interviews, spoke with the head of the San Francisco Board of Education, Gabriela López, about the decision to rename 44 city schools. It's a painful read. New Yorker
In the 1970s, the photographer Alvan Meyerowitz spent pretty much every weekend at San Francisco concert venues, getting up close with some of the era's biggest musicians. His archive is now being highlighted in a new Instagram feed. 👉 @alvansarchive
On April 16, 2020, the baseball player Drew Robinson pressed a handgun against his temple and pulled the trigger. Somehow, he survived. Less than a year later, he has a new contract with the San Francisco Giants and a new mission in life. ESPN
Bonnie Tsui, a Bay Area surfer, likes to get up at 5:30 a.m. to arrive at the beach when the sun hasn't yet breached the horizon and the stars and moon are still crisp overhead. In an essay, she uses this in-between period as a metaphor for the coming year. Outside magazine

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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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