Good morning. It’s Thursday, April 27.
- Former S.F. commissioner accused of attacking homeless.
- Petaluma mom influencer convicted for false crime report.
- And elephant seals get by on two hours of sleep a day.
While the reemergence of Tulare Lake in the San Joaquin Valley poses immediate dangers to towns and infrastructure, it has also sparked enthusiasm to make it permanent. Before being drained, the lake was the largest freshwater body west of the Mississippi River. It was home to tule elk, antelope, white pelicans, and cormorants. “Imagine, if you’re Christian and if the Garden of Eden reappeared, how exciting would that be?” said Shana Powers, a Tachi Yokut tribal member. “It’s the same thing for the tribe.” S.F. Chronicle
This week, California regulators are expected to approve a plan to ban sales of diesel trucks by 2036, a worldwide first that would transform how goods are transported throughout the state. Environmentalists are thrilled, but industry groups have called the plan impossible. The charging infrastructure barely exists and the grid is seen as unreliable, analysts say. “The amount of chaos and dysfunction that is going to be created by this rule will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Chris Shimoda, an industry spokesman. CalMatters
While the hobbling of San Francisco’s downtown during the pandemic has endured, other California cities have bounced back to their former selves — or better. An analysis of mobile phone data from November showed that foot traffic in San Francisco was 31% of its pre-pandemic levels. Downtown activity actually increased in Bakersfield and Fresno, while San Diego was at 99%. Analysts noted that San Diego is less reliant on office workers than San Francisco, where many shifted to remote work. L.A. Times
Humans get about seven hours of sleep a day, dogs get more than 10, and lions get up to 20. So it’s extraordinary that California’s northern elephant seals somehow manage on less than two hours of slumber a day. Scientists recently revealed the sleep patterns of the seals, known for their trunk-like noses, in the first-ever sleep study on marine mammals in the wild, which involved affixing brain sensors to their heads in Monterey Bay. The adaptation, they suggested, helps the blubbery animals avoid predation at sea. National Geographic | NPR
Two weeks ago, video of a homeless man bludgeoning former San Francisco fire commissioner Don Carmignani appeared to be another sign of the deteriorating situation on the city’s streets. Now the homeless man’s lawyer has asked a judge for his release, citing police reports on eight bear-spray attacks against homeless people in the neighborhood by a man she said matches Carmignani’s description. She released security video that showed one of the attacks in November 2021. Carmignani denied that it was him. SF Standard | Mission Local
In December 2020, a small-time mom influencer named Katie Sorensen posted a viral Instagram video claiming that her children were nearly kidnapped by a Latino couple at a craft store in Petaluma. On Wednesday, Sorensen was led out of court in handcuffs after being convicted of making a false report of a crime. She faces up to six months in jail. Press Democrat
Developments on the labor front:
- Oakland teachers voted to authorize a strike over stalled contract negotiations, labor leaders announced Tuesday. Some parents have pushed back, saying their kids have already suffered too many disruptions. Oaklandside | KTVU
- In Shasta County, a union representing about half of county employees said they would strike for two weeks. They want a 15% raise. When a supervisor explained that money was tight, union members said the county could abandon its costly transition to hand-counting election ballots. Record Searchlight
When Disney criticized a Florida law prohibiting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity for young students last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to show the company who was boss. For months, Disney’s lawyers quietly maneuvered to protect the Burbank entertainment giant. But on Wednesday, they sharply escalated the feud, filing a First Amendment lawsuit against DeSantis that accuses him of “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.” N.Y. Times
In 2018, authorities arrested Eric Uller, a Santa Monica Police Department employee who worked for decades in an after-school program, on suspicion of molesting children. Since then, more than 200 victims have come forward, leading to settlements of nearly $230 million and questions about how the abuse was missed. But there were repeated warnings about Uller going back at least as far as 1993. That year, a Santa Monica police sergeant shared her suspicions of Uller with her boss, who told her she would be written up if she kept spreading workplace gossip. L.A. Times
Los Angeles lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a motion to add speed bumps at every school in the city after a speeding pickup truck plowed into a woman and her 6-year-old daughter a day earlier, killing the mother and critically injuring the girl. “The conflict between a car-driven city and students making their way to school is tragically ongoing,” said Nick Melvoin, a school board member who urged the motion. Police initially suggested the driver was impaired, then later said a medical emergency may have been to blame. MyNewsLA.com | L.A. Times
Jeffrey Fleishman offered a beautifully written meditation on downtown Los Angeles:
“Life downtown is navigating the dystopian and the make-believe, the frivolous and the consequential. A vast array of people can be glimpsed when turning a corner or stepping into a back street. A dazed woman in a blanket wandering toward the light of the Metro. Young men driving loud and wild beneath the stars. Drunken lovers kissing outside Perch.” L.A. Times
The reporter Antonia Hitchens went inside Taco Bell’s Innovation Kitchen in Irvine, where an army of food scientists are developing an ever-evolving menu to keep customers coming back. She learned:
- The idea for the Crunchwrap Supreme was tweaked in the lab for 13 years until it made the cut.
- People apparently like a chip that snaps with about four pounds of pressure per square inch.
- And a blue corn taco failed in part because, “The masses don’t know that blue corn is a thing.” 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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