California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, July 23.

Please note: The newsletter will pause Monday. Back in your inbox Tuesday.

University of California regents approve rare tuition hike.
A rebellion grows over Los Angeles County's mask mandate.
And a young Huntington Beach surfer aims for Olympic gold.

Statewide

1

South Hall at UC Berkeley.

After getting $1.3 billion in extra state funding this year, the University of California voted Thursday to raise tuition over the objections of student leaders and some regents. The 4.2% increase will apply only to incoming freshmen, with additional hikes to be applied to subsequent incoming classes for five years. By 2026, tuition and fees are projected to surpass $15,000 a year. In 2000, the pricetag was $3,429. In 1965: $220. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was among the regents who voted no: "Our goal should always be to make UC education more accessible. I fear that this does the opposite." A.P. | Daily Bruin

  
2

In May, the University of California scrapped the use of standardized tests in admissions after critics labeled them as biased. In an essay, Caitlin Flanagan said the move deflected from the real injustice: that California consigns its most vulnerable students to some of the worst K–12 schools in America. "There can be no more obvious example of state-sponsored discrimination than the condition of these schools, which, decade after decade, have robbed students of 13 years and given them little in return. All the standardized tests do is reveal the obvious outcome of our cruelty." The Atlantic

  
3

Albert Dytch said he doesn't want businesses to suffer.

Balazs Gardi/The New York Times

Albert Dytch, an Oakland man with muscular dystrophy, has filed more than 180 disability lawsuits in California, targeting restaurants, movie theaters, and shops. In a nuanced story about the disability lawsuit industry, Dytch complains that serial litigants like him get unfairly maligned as greedy and unprincipled. "The law is subsidizing me to correct things,” he said. “Then I earn money to defray the exorbitant costs of being disabled.” N.Y. Times Magazine

  
4

California sued Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, accusing the video game giant of subjecting female workers to a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture.” After a two-year investigation, regulators said men at the Santa Monica company openly joked about rape, talked about women's bodies, and drunkenly harassed female workers. Multiple women quit. One committed suicide, the lawsuit said. Activision said it was "sickened" that the state brought up the worker's death, calling it irrelevant to the case. Washington Post | The Verge

  

Northern California

5

A trickle of water flowed into Lake Mendocino near Ukiah on June 2.

George Rose/Getty Images

After two years of critically low rainfall, the drought crisis has become so bleak in Mendocino County that there is talk of shipping water in by barge. Many wells are running low or even dry. This week, a key supplier, the city of Fort Bragg, shut off the spigot to safeguard its own supplies. “From fires to pandemic to drought,” said Supervisor Ted Williams, “I think drought might be the worst.” Press Democrat

  
6

Several Bay Area counties on Thursday urged employers to require that their workers get vaccinated. Following its own advice, Santa Clara County announced that its entire 22,000-person work force must be inoculated. Some businesses expressed worries about inviting lawsuits. But Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer, said employers can set workplace safety standards. "If an employee is creating an unsafe work environment, there are consequences for that,” he said. Mercury News | KQED

  
7

Philip Kreycik's disappearance has mystified investigators.

On July 10, 37-year-old Philip Kreycik went for a trail run in the East Bay hills and never returned. Despite a massive search effort, nearly two weeks later the authorities have not found a single clue to explain the Berkeley father's disappearance. For detectives used to resolving missing persons cases within hours or days, this one has seemingly defied logic. “We’ve come up empty,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly. “I mean empty.” S.F. Chronicle | SFist

  

Southern California

8

In Los Angeles County, a sprawling patchwork of 88 cities, some local leaders are rebelling against the new countywide mask mandate. This week, elected officials from a half-dozen cities, including El Segundo, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach, demanded the order be rescinded. In West Covina, Councilman Tony Wu rejected it outright. “We are absolutely not going to enforce nothing about this BS,” he said. Washington Post

  
9

Kanoa Igarashi will represent Japan on the Olympic stage.

Ed Sloane/WSL via Getty Images

The surfer Kanoa Igarashi is a superstar in Japan, but he's 100% Californian. Igarashi's father was a surfer in Japan. When his wife became pregnant, the couple quit their jobs and moved to Huntington Beach, where they adopted the role of hard-driving American sports parents. Igarashi became a surfing phenom, and in 2018 he chose to compete under the banner of Japan, which he'll represent in the Olympics this month. A great profile of Igarashi by Daniel Duane included an exchange that the surfer, in his telling, had with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Abe: “I’m putting my faith in you. Japan is putting its faith in you to win Olympic gold.”

Igarashi: "I feel like you’re sending me off to war."

Abe: “I hope you take it as a war.” Outside Magazine

  
10

Jamey Stillings

After the Ivanpah solar field opened in 2014, the nation's thermal energy output nearly doubled. The sea of mirrors, spread across an area more than three times the size of Golden Gate Park in the always sunny Mojave Desert, work by focusing heat onto three gigantic "power towers." From above, the facility evokes art as much as infrastructure, a tension brilliantly captured in the photography of Jamey Stillings. Through his lens, one critic wrote, Ivanpah's mirrors are "like super-sized drawings on the walls of a cave, Nazca lines updated to the 21st century." Lens Culture | JameyStillings.com

  
11

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman has a conversation with Katie Hill, a former congresswoman from Southern California. Once considered a rising Democratic star, she quit Congress in 2019 after her affair with a campaign staff member — and nude photos — became public. Asked if she regrets resigning, she said she felt she had no choice: "It felt like the only way to make the abuse stop was to step away."

  

In case you missed it

12

Five items that got big views over the past week:

The rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta snake for hundreds of miles along wetlands, historic towns, and colorful places to eat. That makes it fantastic road-trip territory. Here's a good tour, including a stop in Locke, pictured above. 👉 Visit California
Last December, a man in San Francisco followed a 15-year-old girl, grabbing her and telling her they belonged together. He was taken away in handcuffs. But months later, a judge dismissed the entire matter, saying it was “in the interest of justice.” In a scathing column, the Chronicle's Heather Knight asked, "Justice for whom?"
Last year, a Berkeley High teacher was stunned when she saw a 2003 yearbook photo of a teacher hugging a 17-year-old student and burying his face in her hair. An investigation followed that led to accusations that he got away with sexually assaulting and harassing students for years. Berkeleyside
Fred Zalokar, an accomplished marathoner, was found dead by park rangers in Yosemite on Tuesday. He had gone missing Saturday while on a solo trip up Mount Clark. His body was discovered near the summit. Reno Gazette Journal
A patch of public land atop a ridge in Beverly Hills provides one of the most glorious vantages to watch a Los Angeles sunset. The recommendation is included in Los Angeles Magazine's latest "Best of L.A." issue, along with the city's best cocktail bar, bowling alley, fish market, and cat café.
  

Correction

An earlier version of this newsletter misspelled an Atlantic writer's name. She is Caitlin Flanagan, not Caitlyn Flanagan.

Thanks for reading!

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

The Sun is built by Marquee on Proof.

Consider becoming a member.

Please tell us how we can make the newsletter better. Email mike@californiasun.co.

California Sun masthead
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.