California Sun

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

PG&E expects to cut power to 54,000 customers today.
The tragic life of San Francisco's most unlikely distance runner.
And recalling lost pleasures in photos from 1970s Los Angeles.



Voters gathered at an official ballot drop-box in Santa Ana on Tuesday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California’s Republican Party agreed to remove deceptive "official" labels from ballot drop boxes that it placed around the state. But party officials also said they may add more of the containers despite being told by state election officials that they are illegal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said if the boxes weren't removed by Thursday, he would prosecute. President Trump weighed in, tweeting: "Fight hard Republicans!" Politico | A.P.


Coronavirus roundup:

California's rate of new infections per capita is now lower than all but five states. Improving numbers allowed 10 more counties on Tuesday to move to looser tiers in the state's reopening plan. Mercury News | A.P.
An exception is Shasta County, which has the highest rate of new cases in the state. Officials said infections had doubled at a local faith-healing ministry, even as a church leader spoke out against masks. KRCR
Kids are allowed to go trick-or-treating this year, local rules permitting. But it's a bad idea, state health officials said. S.F. Chronicle | L.A. Times

A 370-pound black bear's paws were so burned during a wildfire in the Northern Sierra that he was unable to walk. State wildlife officials brought the animal to a veterinary facility near Sacramento where he was cleaned, treated, and even fattened up before being cleared for release last week.

Here he is tearing back into the forest. 👇


— Humboldt County was named for an 18th-century Prussian naturalist who formulated the idea of ecosystems.

— Calaveras County got its name from the bones of Native Americans found along a river. Calaveras means skulls.

— Orange County was named for its oranges, which are native to tropical Asia. Hence its word origin from the Sanskrit naranga.

A hobbyist made this fascinating map depicting the name origins of California counties. 👉 imgur


Northern California


PG&E said it expected to begin cutting power to roughly 54,000 homes and business for 48 hours starting Wednesday evening as forecasts called for fierce, dry winds across Northern California. Cal Fire said 14 major fires were still burning across the state, with no end to the dry season in sight. Sacramento Bee | Washington Post

PG&E power outage maps. 👉 S.F. Chronicle | PG&E


Police Chief Andy Hall said his department was underfunded and underappreciated.

Gary Kazanjian/A.P.

Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall on the frustration level among officers amid rising crime and calls to defund the police: “I think a lot of officers see a vehicle that may be full of gang members and turn around because it is easier and they get paid the exact same.” KGPE


San Francisco's Lowell High School, one of the best public high schools in the country, accepts students based on grades and test scores. But school officials have proposed shifting to lottery admissions, citing the difficulty of assessing classwork during the pandemic. The move would be temporary but some want to make it permanent as a way to increase diversity. Families of kids who have been working hard to get into Lowell are furious. | KGO


Ronnie Goodman said when people see him running, they see a runner, not a homeless man.

"I'm just running and I'm just running. I might run for maybe two hours, and I'm a free person for those two hours."

Ronnie Goodman was San Francisco's most unlikely distance runner. He came to public notice in 2014 after running the San Francisco Half Marathon while homeless. His reputation as an artist blossomed, and his work was included in an exhibition at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in September. But Goodman didn't get to see it. He died in the ragged tent that was his home in the Mission District in August. The apparent cause was complications of drug addiction. He was 60. Hyperallergic

Here's a moving film about why Goodman ran. 👉 Vimeo (~2:45 mins)


Southern California


The Exide facility in Vernon was wrapped in plastic last week.

Al Seib/L.A. Times via Getty Images

For decades a battery recycler in southeast Los Angeles County operated a smelter that spewed lead, arsenic, and cadmium into the surrounding working-class community. One study found that nearby children had twice as much lead in their baby teeth as other kids. Now the company is broke and the Trump administration has agreed to let it walk away. That means California taxpayers would have to pay the massive cost of the state’s largest environmental cleanup. L.A. Times | L.A. Daily News


Settling a class-action lawsuit, Los Angeles County agreed to pay $14 million to thousands of people who were held in jail beyond their release dates at the request of immigration officials in the Obama administration. The ACLU said the payout should serve as a warning to police departments that "blindly comply with ICE’s requests that are patently unlawful." A.P. | L.A. Times


Kurt has behaved just like a regular horse.

Scott Stine

Scientists at the San Diego Zoo used skin cells that had been frozen for 40 years to clone a critically endangered horse. It's the first time anyone has successfully cloned a Przewalski’s horse, which is extinct in the wild. The healthy newborn, named Kurt, represents hope for the species, scientists said. S.D. Union-Tribune


Mike Mandel

While a philosophy student at Cal State Northridge in the 1970s, Mike Mandel took a series of selfies with strangers around Los Angeles. In a time of lockdown, looking at them is an exercise in nostalgia for when interactions between strangers could be guileless, wrote the author Emma Cline. "Mandel’s photographs have so much of the lost pleasure of living in a city in them, of participating in the random crisscrossing of humanity, of disparate selves united even briefly in time and place."

See 19 images from the collection. 👉 New Yorker


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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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