California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 5.

A last-minute guide to California's primary vote.
Michael Pollan takes mushrooms and communes with a plant.
And once-sleepy Joshua Tree is overrun by the Airbnb crowd.

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The lede


Primary Day!

A person in a bull suit urged voters to reject a recall campaign against state Senator Josh Newman in Fullerton last week.

Chris Carlson/A.P.

You know the candidates, you've studied the measures, and now you're ready to do your civic part.


Just in case you want a brush-up, the L.A. Times has a handy rundown of where the gubernatorial candidates stand on the state's biggest issues. For example:

Gavin Newsom wants to create universal preschool.
John Chiang called for more spending on housing than any other candidate.
Travis Allen wants California's attorney general to be prosecuted for "mafia tactics" on immigration.
Delaine Eastin is a strong supporter of state-run single-payer healthcare.
John Cox wants to kill the high speed rail project between L.A. and San Francisco.
And Antonio Villaraigosa is opposed to a ballot measure that would allow stronger rent control laws.

Read more in the Times.

Here are the full endorsements by the Times, S.D. Union Tribune, S.F. Chronicle and Sacramento Bee.

Bonus tips:

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Look up your polling place here.
You can actually mail your ballot today. It just needs to get there within three days.
You can even register today, the first time California is offering the last-minute service. That's done at county elections offices.




A group of California newspapers assembled a panel of 60 influential people — including C.E.O.s, former governors, and professors — to weigh in on the state's most pressing issues. The first question: What's the biggest challenge our leaders must confront to ensure a better future for California? Income inequality, education reform, and housing affordability all got numerous mentions.


“This is not a complication that we need now.” After a Riverside judge unexpectedly tossed out California's right-to-die law, some patients are preparing to pack up for Oregon, far from friends and family, where life-ending medication is still legal. California has appealed the ruling.


In post-marijuana-prohibition California, school educators are talking about the drug in ways unrecognizable from the "Just Say No" days. The focus is now on facts, not fear. "I'm not here to tell you what to do today. Not at all," one instructor told a group of eighth-graders. "I'm here to give you the most up-to-date information possible so that you can make your own healthy, informed decisions."

Northern California


Dwight Clark at Candlestick Park in 1983.

Mark Costantini/A.P.

Dwight Clark, the charismatic wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers who played the starring role in "The Catch," died after a battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was 61. Clark will forever be remembered for a leap in the back of the end zone to grab a game-winning touchdown that launched the 49ers dynasty and is one of the most indelible images in N.F.L. history.


Long plagued by poverty, Stockton is getting ready to become the first American city to test universal income. Several dozen families will get $500 a month, no strings attached. The idea has become increasingly popular as a way to share the bounty of capitalism at a time of rising economic inequality. The program in Stockton is being privately funded. "I jumped at the opportunity,” the mayor said.


BART is spending $66,000 a month to crack down on fare evaders. After handing out about 1,300 citations, only about 100 people paid up. It turns out people unwilling to pay a few bucks to ride the subway are rarely willing to cough up $75 when handed a citation. The transit agency said it loses as much as $25 million annually to fare evaders.


Michael Pollan, the Berkeley author and guru of the “real food” movement, has a new interest: psychedelic drugs. He's a fan. In a new book, Pollan, who had never tried psychedelics, chronicles his transition into becoming a "reluctant psychonaut." "I felt as though I were communing directly with a plant for the first time," he wrote.


About 1,500 dolphins were seen playing with a mother humpback whale and her calf. Drone video shows the dolphins "snout riding" the whales, or intentionally provoking them to create waves they can surf in. "The dolphins seem to really enjoy this and the whales aren't really bothered," a marine biologist said.

Southern California


About 130 miles east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is increasingly popular with visitors.

Christopher Michel/CC BY 2.0

Joshua Tree was once a sleepy high desert community. Now it's become an international attraction luring 3 million visitors per year. The visitors are overwhelming the area’s boulder-strewn campsites and motels — and annoying some locals. “I’m surrounded by Airbnbs filled with vacationing strangers who seem to think anything goes out here,” one said.


“We’re in a death spiral.” The Los Angeles Unified School District has a giant surplus of more than half a billion dollars. Yet it is staring down the barrel of financial ruin. Why? Declining enrollment and ballooning employee pension and healthcare costs. By 2020, projections show a shortfall of $408 million.


Michel Moore, a 36-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was chosen by the mayor to lead the force, one of the country's largest. Moore is regarded as a proven administrator with a mastery of crime statistics and budgets. In an apparent reference to his predecessor, Charlie Beck, Moore said, "I need the people of this great department to know that today is a day that they get to step forward and be heard again."


A journalist followed six homeless people who accepted help from county workers after being forced to leave camps along the Santa Ana River. One man, aged 50, died in a shelter. Another is back on the street. Others feel like they've been given a new start. “I want to be part of that greater good,” one said. “I don’t want to be a problem anymore.”


Hoot Hoot I Scream in the San Gabriel Valley in 1932.

Jim Heimann

Photos: Starting in the 1920s, California entrepreneurs began creating whimsical roadside attractions like giant owls, ice cream cones, and hot dogs. Even if critics scoffed, the buildings across Hollywood and Los Angeles created an architectural vernacular with a enduring appeal.

California archive


Primary tragedy

Senator Robert F. Kennedy and former Gov. Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown Sr. at a campaign event in 1968.

California State Archives

It was 50 years ago today that Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles.

The 42-year-old senator had just won the California primary, a crucial victory in his quest for the U.S. presidency. Supporters believed Kennedy could heal a nation torn by divisions of race and the Vietnam War.

A gun was wrestled from Sirhan Sirhan in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.

California State Archives

Just past midnight, and moments after delivering a victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel, Kennedy was killed by a 24-year-old Jordanian refugee wielding a small caliber revolver. He died a day later.

The assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, had nursed a hatred of Kennedy over his support for Israel. He remains in California state prison today.

Left, writings found in the Pasadena home of Sirhan expressed a desire to assassinate Kennedy. Right, his mugshot, dated June 5, 1968.

California State Archives

Kennedy died just five years after his brother, John F. Kennedy. As with the assassination in Dallas, conspiracy theories have swirled around the case.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was just 14 when his father was killed. He recently told the Washington Post that he’s unconvinced that Sirhan fired the fatal shot that night in 1968.

California’s state archives partnered with Google to create an online exhibit that tells the story of Kennedy’s California campaign and assassination with rare photos and other documents. Check it out here.

Thanks for reading!

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

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