California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, June 21.

An emotional backlash fails to block vaccine measure.
Poignant images of poverty in the Central Valley.
And a residence like no other on the Big Sur coast.



Cal State students protested tuition hikes in Long Beach in 2014.

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

The Cal State system amassed a surplus of more than $1.5 billion over a decade even as it nearly doubled tuition and lobbied the Legislature for more funding, an audit revealed. The university "did not disclose the surplus to students when consulting with them about raising tuition costs," the report said. The system's chancellor defended the secret mountain of cash as akin to a rainy day fund. Sacramento Bee | A.P.


PG&E, the bankrupt utility whose equipment last year sparked the deadliest wildfire in California history, is asking a judge to let it pay a group of top executives nearly $11 million in bonuses this year. A law professor said the request did not appear unreasonable. "You want smart people working for the company, and you want them to have incentives," he said. A watchdog expressed disgust at the "sense of entitlement." S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News


California has committed to setting its own strict auto emissions targets.

The standoff between California and the Trump administration over fuel economy standards turned acrimonious on Thursday. In a letter to Republicans, Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. chief, accused California's top air pollution regulator, Mary Nichols, of making false statements and negotiating in bad faith. Testifying before a House committee, Nichols called the letter shocking. She added: "The Trump administration has been unwilling to find a way that works." Bloomberg | Sacramento Bee

Separately, California's gas prices will go up 5.6 cents a gallon on July 1, enough to make the state's total taxes and fees on gas the highest in the nation. S.D. Union-Tribune | L.A. Times


The data wizards at CALmatters created a really cool animated chart that shows where Californians were born across time from 1920 to 2017. It unfolds as a sort of bar chart race, with Illinois and the British Isles coming out strong early, only to be overtaken by Texas and, beginning in the 1980s, Mexico and parts of Asia. CALmatters


"Kids at an irrigation pond. Teviston, California."

Matt Black

From a review of a photo project on poverty in the Central Valley: "Occasionally I come across a photographer who stops me in my tracks. Not because their images are gruesome, bloody, violent, pornographic but rather because their pictures capture humanity at its bleakest point, where hope is but a dream, a distant idea, a notion for another time, another place. The photographs of Matt Black are such pictures." | mutantspace


Inmates at San Quentin State Prison. California's last execution took place in 2006.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with Allison Haley, the district attorney for Napa County, about California's moratorium on capital punishment. She cited the father of Polly Klaas, the Petaluma girl was who murdered in 1993. He has been outraged over the decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom. "And how can you tell that man that he ought not be?" Haley said. California Sun Podcast

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Northern California


Tara O’Sullivan attended a law enforcement program at Sacramento State.

Sacramento State

Tara O'Sullivan was the first police officer killed in the line of duty in Sacramento in 20 years. People who knew O'Sullivan, a 26-year-old native of the Bay Area, described her as a "bright light" who was passionate about serving her community. "Tara was happy 24/7 and her joy was contagious," one family friend said. Sacramento Bee | S.F. Chronicle

Adel Sambrano Ramos, the man accused to fatally shooting O'Sullivan, is a 45-year-old Sacramento man with a history of violence. His younger brother said Ramos was estranged from the family. "If he goes to prison for the rest of his life, I could care less," he said. Sacramento Bee | A.P.


Opponents of a new vaccine bill embraced after the measure advanced in Sacramento on Thursday.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

Just five doctors have issued more than half the medical exemptions for student vaccinations across eight Bay Area school districts, a survey found. A state bill is designed to crack down on the practice of parents shopping for doctors who will write exemptions even when not necessary. "It only takes a small number of physicians to do a lot of damage," a lawmaker said. Mercury News

Hundreds of parents packed a legislative hearing in Sacramento to oppose the new vaccine rules. When the bill advanced, some people burst into tears. L.A. Times | A.P.


California's high-speed rail has become a political football tossed about by the leaders of California and the Trump administration. Now the editorial board of the Bee in Fresno, a city with much at stake in the project, is making its case: "California has the world's fifth-largest economy; its new budget totals $215 billion. Yet there are smaller European and Asian nations with successful high-speed-rail transportation systems. Why can't we have that, too?" Fresno Bee

Columnist Dan Walters: "If the Trumpies strangle it, they would be doing California a big favor." CALmatters


A Lake Tahoe residence was frequented by members of the Rat Pack.

Here are some homes for daydreaming purposes:

The original owner of this Lake Tahoe home was William Harrah, the casino magnate. Among his guests: Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Steve Martin. At one time, it had secret tunnels that led to neighboring homes. Yours for $26 million. Architectural Digest
A new glass condo high-rise has joined San Francisco's skyline. The full-floor penthouse with a private rooftop is asking $41 million, which would make it the most expensive condo ever sold in the city. dezeen | Curbed San Francisco
Perched at the edge of a peninsula next to Bixby Bridge on the Big Sur coast is a home with unimaginable views. "You have absolutely no neighbors," the listing agent said. "It's almost like an island." Asking: $16 million.

Southern California


Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher in Iraq in 2017.

In stunning testimony, a Navy SEAL medic said it was he who killed a wounded Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017, not the man accused by prosecutors, Chief Edward Gallagher. Special Operator First Class Corey Scott said he pressed his thumb over the captive's breathing tube until he died as an act of mercy.

A visibly angry prosecutor tore into the witness, who had been granted immunity: "You can stand up there and you can lie about how you killed the ISIS prisoner so Chief Gallagher does not have to go to jail." Scott then looked toward Gallagher. "He's got a wife and family," he said. "I don't think he should be spending his life in prison." N.Y. Times | A.P.


With calls intensifying to close Santa Anita after a wave of horse deaths, the track's roughly 1,500 backstretch workers say the powerful people driving the debate are paying no attention to their fate. "Among the employees, mostly low-wage Latinos," the L.A. Times wrote, "there is a growing sense of being an invisible underclass in the sport of kings." L.A. Times | A.P.


Gondolier rides make a romantic escape in Long Beach.

The tobacco millionaire who founded Venice of America, now known as Venice, modeled it after Italy's floating city. But it's Long Beach, 25 miles down the coast, where serenading gondoliers have become a fixture. The L.A. Times's travel team recommended a ride through the canals of the upscale Naples neighborhood in their "California bucket list." L.A. Times

Bygone California: When Venice of America opened in 1905, it had seven canals dredged out of former marshlands. Two decades later, they were filled in to make way for the automobile age. KCET


Here's Morro Rock, a 23-million-year-old volcanic peak jutting from the Pacific just off Morro Bay. It's a peregrine falcon preserve, which means you can't climb it — with one exception. Salinan Indians are allowed to ascend the summit twice a year for religious rituals, on summer solstice, which is today, and winter solstice. A small group of tribal members does the climb, which is tricky. Others congregate near the base, where they play a drum and share food. The public is welcome. Atlas Obscura | Colorado College


In case you missed it


The "Screaming Titans" coast redwood in far Northern California.

Mario Vaden

Here are five blurbs that got big views over the past week:

Here are jaw-dropping pictures of a long-secret grove in Northern California with several of the world's largest trees by volume. California Sun
A high school valedictorian delivered a scorched-earth graduation speech that accused a teacher of being regularly drunk during class. Washington Post | S.D. Union-Tribune
A photographer has been documenting the people and places along the Los Angeles River's winding 51 miles. The images are fantastic. FotoRoom |
Nestlé is taking millions of gallons of water from national forest land east of Los Angeles — and federal officials are helping them do it. Desert Sun
For teens in the San Fernando Valley in the 1960s and '70s, driving leisurely up and down Van Nuys Boulevard was the way to see and be seen. Here are photos of the characters and cars that defined the cruising era.

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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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