Good morning. It’s Friday, July 8.
- Critic of ousted S.F. district attorney will replace him.
- Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter is “in serious jeopardy.”
- And San Diego parents criticize relaxed grading policy.
In Kern County, which produces 70% of California’s oil, tax revenue from the petroleum industry has sustained the local economy for more than a century. So resistance to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to end oil drilling in the state by 2045 is about as fierce as you can imagine. “It’s not just tens of thousands of jobs,” said Ryan Alsop, the county’s chief administrative officer. “It’s also hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that we rely on to fund our schools, parks, libraries, public safety, public health.” N.Y. Times
Included in the budget package signed by Gov. Newsom last week was $100 million to develop and manufacture California’s own generic insulin, which would be a first among U.S. states. A 2020 Rand study found that Americans pay about four times as much as people in comparable countries for insulin. Promoting the plan in a video message on Thursday, Newsom said people shouldn’t have to go into debt for life-saving medications. “California is now taking matters into our own hands,” he said. CBS News | CNET
Brooke Jenkins was one of the most compelling voices to call for the recall of San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin. A Black and Latina prosecutor who also considers herself a progressive, she quit the district attorney’s office over what she said was Boudin’s failure to advocate for crime victims. Now she will lead the office. On Thursday, Mayor London Breed named Jenkins to replace her former boss. In November, Jenkins will have to face a general election and possibly a formidable opponent: Boudin, who hasn’t ruled out running again. S.F. Standard | A.P.
Joe Eskanazi of Mission Local: “It is a bold and combustible move from the mayor.”
In Vallejo, a city notorious for violent policing, investigations of police shootings can take so long that officers kill again before they are done. Of the department’s 17 fatal shootings between 2011 and 2020, six involved an officer using deadly force while still under investigation for a prior killing, a news investigation found. “This isn’t accepted practice,” said Louis Dekmar, a police chief in Georgia and a former civil rights police monitor. “This isn’t even basement standard practice.” ProPublica/Open Vallejo
Ramesh Balwani, the former Theranos executive, was found guilty of 12 counts of fraud on Thursday, a verdict harsher than that of his co-conspirator and former girlfriend, Elizabeth Holmes. Balwani sought to deflect blame for exaggerating the capabilities of the company’s blood-testing machines by arguing that Holmes, the chief executive, was in charge. But prosecutors used his own words against him, presenting a text he wrote that read: “I am responsible for everything at Theranos.” Both Holmes and Balwani face up to 20 years in prison. Wall Street Journal | N.Y. Times
Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter is now “in serious jeopardy,” according to a Washington Post report that relied on anonymous sources. The billionaire’s team claims to be unable to verify figures on spam accounts and has “stopped engaging” in funding negotiations, the report said. Several tech writers have called that a pretense to wriggle out of the $44 billion agreement, which Twitter has insisted on consummating as agreed. If Musk does back out, he faces a $1 billion breakup fee. Washington Post | Bloomberg
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman chats with Gary Kamiya, a history columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. They discussed San Francisco’s repudiation of several progressive political figures at the ballot box, a subject he explored in a July 3 Atlantic column. “If this city can turn on the more extreme elements of the new identity politics and racial orthodoxy, then yes, it can happen anywhere and probably will,” Kamiya said.
In 2020, San Diego Unified, California’s second-largest school district, overhauled its grading practices, encouraging teachers to forgive missed deadlines and allow second tries on tests. Standards-based grading, as it’s known, aims to gauge mastery of subject matter rather than compliance to rules. But two years later, some parents are rebelling against the change: “They’re not learning that they’re supposed to get things done when they’re told to get things done,” Lisa Barron said. “How is that going to benefit them out in the world? They’re going to get fired.” S.D. Union-Tribune
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is planning to ask voters to give it the power to oust an elected sheriff from office. The proposed change to the county’s charter is a remarkable sign of how acrimonious the board’s relationship with Sheriff Alex Villanueva has become. Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis said the move was necessitated by “the sheriff’s flagrant disregard of lawful oversight and accountability.” A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson called it a “politically motivated stunt.” L.A. Times | City News Service
Willie Lee Morrow, a son of Alabama sharecroppers, was a barber in San Diego in 1962 when a friend brought him a gift from Nigeria: a traditional wooden comb meant to tease out curly hair. A tinkerer, Morrow spent years refining the design before unveiling a plastic version that could be mass produced. He called it the Afro Tease, later the Afro pick, and in time he was selling about 12,000 a week. Then in the 1970s, he cemented his legacy as a hair-care trailblazer with another innovation: the forerunner of the Jheri curl. Morrow died on June 22 at his home in San Diego. He was 82. N.Y. Times | Washington Post
“it wouldn’t do much good to say that I think our own lead singer sucks and is a complete mental case pre-Madonna.”
In 2015, a Van Halen superfan found an email address that supposedly belonged to Eddie Van Halen. On a lark, he fired off a message. That kicked off a five-year friendship during which the late rock star spilled gossip, gripes, hopes, and fears — revealing himself like never before. Here’s a compulsively entertaining read, Van Halen fan or not. 👉 Rolling Stone
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- In 2020, the Castle fire killed thousands of giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada. Uta Kögelsberger, a visual artist, felt compelled to do something to work through her grief. The result is Fire Complex, a mesmerizing video project that captures compromised sequoias thundering to earth. Fire-Complex.com
- In the late 1980s, Dan Moss swerved his car to avoid a deer on a treacherous section of Highway 1 just south of San Francisco and went over the cliff edge. He survived with a couple of broken bones. In 2017, his 22-year-old son disappeared while driving the same stretch. He was never seen again. S.F. Chronicle
- The filmmaker Sydney Bowie Linden spent six months following the life of an oilman in Taft, a conservative town at the edge of the San Joaquin Valley. Titled “Black Gold,” it’s a beautifully done portrait of a community that sees its way of life under siege. YouTube/New Yorker (~17 mins.)
- Eight times Bay Area social workers were told that Sophia Mason was being abused or neglected under the care of a mother with a history of mental illness. Eight times they decided she was safe. Then on March 11, police found her lifeless body in a bathtub. Mercury News
- For a new picture collection, the Berkeley photographer Mimi Plumb curated images she captured walking around San Francisco in the 1980s. “Things haven’t changed that much,” Plumb said. “Except that some of the problems are worse today.” British Journal of Photography | Lensculture
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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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