California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Oct. 14.

Governor seeks to halt vaccine mandate for prison guards.
Meteorologists expect drenching that could end wildfires.
And a powerful L.A. politician is charged in bribery scheme.



California prisons have been hotspots of coronavirus infection.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom has explained his Covid vaccine mandates for state workers and students as necessary measures to save lives. But his approach has differed for prison guards, a group backed by a powerful union that donated $1.75 million to Newsom's recall defense. On Wednesday, CalMatters reported that the governor asked an appeals court to overturn a judge's order requiring prison guards to get inoculated. | Mercury News


The California attorney general’s office filed felony charges against the leader of the state's largest labor union, accusing her of tax fraud, embezzlement, and perjury. Alma Hernández and her husband under-reported their income by more than $1.4 million to evade $143,000 in taxes, prosecutors said. Hernández resigned, ending her 11-year tenure at SEIU California, which represents more than 700,000 workers and wields significant political influence. Sacramento Bee | L.A. Times


Firefighters battled a wildfire in Healdsburg on Oct. 26, 2019.

Philip Pacheco/AFP via Getty Images

Researchers estimate at least 4 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. In recent decades, that amount of annual wildfire acreage across the entire country has been portrayed as "extreme." ProPublica wrote about the "insanity" of how we manage fire: "We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up. At the same time, the climate grows hotter and drier. Then, boom: the inevitable."


If the forecasts hold true, California will at long last get a good drenching soon. The National Weather Service said an atmospheric river — a dense band of moisture likened to a river in the sky — could swirl into the state between Oct. 21 and Oct. 27. Its arrival would quench wildfires, put a dent in the drought, "and replenish water resources throughout the West Coast.” L.A. Times |

New analysis: the summer months this year were California's driest since 1895. S.F. Chronicle


People protested against school vaccine mandates in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Hans Gutknecht/L.A. Daily News via Getty Images

A few dispatches from the vaccine wars:

School districts across Shasta County are making plans to cover classes ahead of a planned teacher walkout on Oct. 18. The instructors are angry about being pressured to get the Covid-19 vaccine. At one high school, two out of every five employees remain unvaccinated. Record Searchlight | KRCR
San Joaquin County supervisors on Tuesday described vaccine policies adopted in Los Angeles and San Francisco as the acts of a "totalitarian regime." In a resolution, they voted unanimously to ban vaccine requirements to enter county buildings. San Joaquin Valley Sun
Parents packed a school board meeting in suburban Modesto on Monday to ask the trustees to fight the state's student vaccine mandate. Most of the school board shared their concerns. One trustee said she'd quit over the mandate. Modesto Bee

Northern California


Farmers, ranchers, and residents at the NAPA Auto Parts store in Stratford on Sept. 22.

Brian van der Brug/L.A. Times via Getty Images

In tiny Stratford, about 40 miles south of Fresno, the old-timers gather for their morning coffee at the local auto parts store. On a recent day, they recalled how Stratford once flourished, abounding with farming jobs and businesses. “It used to be a little Mayberry when we were kids,” said hay farmer Danny Rodrigues. Now jobs and residents are fleeing. The L.A. Times wrote about how years of drought and recession are hollowing out California's small farming towns.


A Bay Area police chief is on leave after a family member accused her of assault and threats to kill. In a restraining order request, the family member, an 18-year-old woman, said Richmond Police Chief Bisa French and French's husband, an Oakland police sergeant, became violent while demanding that the woman leave the man she says is her partner. The Frenches say the man, once convicted of human trafficking, is in reality a pimp and that the young woman is being manipulated. Mercury News | KGO


Tie Sing, a cook working for the United States Geological Survey, at Yosemite National Park in 1909.

U.S. Geological Survey

In 1882, Chinese workers used pickaxes and shovels to carve the 56-mile route that became Tioga Road, traversing Yosemite National Park from its east and west entrances. Chinese workers also served in Yosemite as cooks, laundry workers, and gardeners. That history has been largely overlooked in park exhibits— until now. This month, a former laundry building at the iconic Wawona Hotel was dedicated as a visitor attraction honoring Chinese contributions to the development of Yosemite. Fresno Bee | NBC News


Southern California


Mark Ridley-Thomas at Los Angeles City Hall in April.

Al Seib/L.A. Times via Getty Images

City Council member Mark Ridley-Thomas, one of the most powerful politicians in Los Angeles, was charged on Wednesday with a bribery scheme. In a federal indictment, prosecutors said Ridley-Thomas conspired with a USC dean to steer millions of dollars in public funding to the university in exchange for a scholarship and teaching job for his son. Ridley-Thomas declined to comment Wednesday. The dean, Marilyn Louise Flynn, denied wrongdoing through her lawyer. L.A. Times | A.P.


President Biden announced Wednesday that the Port of Los Angeles would begin operating “24 hours a day, seven days a week” to relieve the logjam in the nation's overworked supply chain. White House officials said the nearby Port of Long Beach moved to an around-the-clock schedule last month, though port officials portrayed that as an exaggeration. With blockages up and down supply chains, some experts were skeptical the longer hours would make a difference. N.Y. Times | Washington Post


Ships waited to be unloaded at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Wednesday.

Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times via Getty Images

There's a facility at the Port of Long Beach that provides meals, internet, television, and a place to rest for the foreign workers who staff container ships. Lately, it's been empty. With unprecedented gridlock at American ports, seafarers have remained stuck on their ships, some going for months without ever setting foot on land. Long Beach Business Journal reported on an overlooked symptom of the port crisis: stir-crazy seafarers.


California archive


John Wooden at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion 1965.

Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

John Wooden was born on this day in 1910.

The quintessential American coach, Wooden arrived at UC Los Angeles in 1948 to take over a little-known basketball program that played in a cramped gym. He left in 1975, having transformed the Bruins into a powerhouse with 10 national championships. Wooden was said to be as conversant in Shakespeare and the Bible as basketball, imparting lessons that transcended sport.

Here are 11 favorite Woodenisms:

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

"Ability is a poor man's wealth."

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

“Make friendship a fine art.”

“Make each day your masterpiece.”


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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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