Good morning. It’s Friday, Sept. 23.
- Legal pot becomes breeding ground for corruption.
- A congressman’s wife plays the stock market perfectly.
- And a man kayaks from California to Hawaii in 92 days.
In the San Gabriel Valley, a lawmaker was accused of demanding bribes from businesses seeking cannabis licenses.
In the high desert city of Adelanto, a former mayor was convicted of taking a bribe from an FBI agent posing as a pot businessman.
In San Luis Obispo County, a “cannabis king” was sent to prison for paying $30,000 in bribes to a county supervisor.
These cases are not outliers. An investigation by the L.A. Times found that the advent of legal marijuana in California unleashed a wave of corruption: “Lobbyists, pot entrepreneurs and public officials say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in cannabis licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.”
Three notable bills signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week:
- In a victory for housing advocates, new developments within a half-mile of public transit will no longer be bound by minimum parking requirements. S.F. Chronicle | Sacramento Bee
- Mining companies have been clamoring to extract minerals used in electric car batteries from the bottom of the Pacific. Under a new law, they will be barred from seabed mining within 3 miles of the California coast. S.F. Chronicle
- Starting Jan. 1, 2024, California employers will no longer be allowed to penalize workers for off-the-clock marijuana use. L.A. Times
“We’re thinking about the potential for a fourth dry year.”
California enjoyed a wet September, but the next three months will likely be drier than normal for much of the state, according to the latest climate outlook. Forecasters are predicting a rare third consecutive winter of La Niña conditions, when eastern Pacific waters are cooler than usual and storms are thus weaker. S.F. Chronicle | Sacramento Bee
Officials in California scrapped some of the last vestiges of coronavirus-related restrictions over the last couple weeks. A sampling:
- California lifted coronavirus testing requirements for unvaccinated state employees, health care workers, and school staff. EdSource | L.A. Times
- The state ended mandatory masking in prisons and homeless shelters and rescinded its recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, mask up in indoor public settings. L.A. Times | CBS Los Angeles
- Starting today, Los Angeles County no longer requires masking in airports or while aboard buses and trains. The Bay Area’s BART system set its mask mandate to expire Oct. 1. L.A. Times | Mercury News
Reports of eight Venezuelan migrants flown from Texas to Sacramento last week led to speculation that they were swept up in efforts by Republican governors in Texas and Florida to ship migrants to liberal cities. But advocates now say the flights were a result of border agents consciously putting wrong addresses on forms for the immigrants. Immigrant rights groups say the practice has become widespread among agents under pressure to process immigrants quickly. BuzzFeed News
A decade ago, new stores and galleries were popping up in San Francisco’s Lower Polk neighborhood. Nearly all of them have since closed. The neighborhood now hosts a drug market that serves a steady stream of fentanyl addicts around the clock. Break-ins and violence are common. Bonnie Bridges, in the neighborhood for 11 years, said she isn’t sure how much longer she’ll stay: “You fight and you fight and you call and you do what you can, and at some point, you abandon your city.” S.F. Chronicle
Cyril Derreumaux, 45, on Tuesday became the first person to kayak the 2,400 miles from California to Hawaii under his own power. He set off from Monterey in June, and arrived 92 days later with a full beard in Hilo. Derreumaux, a Frenchman who lives in Marin County, said he was transformed by the journey: “It was so simple and so beautiful.” SFist | Axios
On March 5, Dr. Deborah Malumed, the wife of Long Beach Representative Alan Lowenthal, sold shares of Boeing stock. One day later, a House committee on which Lowenthal sits released damaging findings on the company. Malumed also bought or sold Sunrun stock on 97 occasions during a yearlong period while Lowenthal served as chairman of an energy subcommittee. She played two rallies perfectly, in one case reaping a nearly 800% return. Long Beach Post | N.Y. Times
The City Council of La Quinta on Wednesday rejected a proposal for a surf resort that drew controversy for its use of water in a time of drought. The vote followed a lengthy meeting packed with both supporters and opponents of the development that would have also included hundreds of houses. Some complained that the project became a victim of bad optics in a valley home to 120 golf courses, each consuming more far more water than the wave pool would. L.A. Times | NBC Palm Springs
Los Angeles school officials announced Thursday that the district’s 1,400 campuses would be stocked with the overdose reversal drug naloxone after a string of fentanyl overdoses. Officials said nine students had overdosed across the district, including a 15-year-old girl who died last week. “We are experiencing a devastating epidemic,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. L.A. Times | EdSource
“I don’t think that you can play a part this long and not meld with that alter ego. I always say, thank God she’s such a beautiful, brilliant, funny, compassionate, thoughtful, curious person. If I had to meld with Mr. Burns for the last 30-plus years, I think I would be a different person, you know?”
Here’s a wonderful profile of Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa on “The Simpsons,” as the animated series begins its 34th season on Sunday. 👉 The Ringer
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- Elite architects are responding to fire danger with minimalist design, buffer zones, backup electricity, and lots of concrete. An architectural writer shared four case studies, including a “superlatively fire-resilient” home near Lake Tahoe, pictured above. ArchPaper
- In the 1970s, a group of Yosemite rock climbers known as the Stonemasters pushed the frontiers of the sport. But they were more than elite athletes. They made rock climbing the most stylish sport of the decade. Timeline and GQ have some great photos.
- “Chic minimalism” in the Sierra Nevada, an Airstream campground in Santa Ynez Valley wine country, and an A-frame cabin with a loft in the Southern California desert. Here are 11 “cozy California cabins where you can escape to nature.” 👉 AFAR
- Bill Walton, the basketball legend and one of San Diego’s biggest boosters, sent a series of emails to the mayor about the homelessness crisis. “Once again, you’ve done, and continue to do, nothing,” he wrote. Voice of San Diego
- Mossbrae Falls is one of California’s great natural treasures, yet it is officially closed to the public. One path to the falls crosses land owned by a secretive religious group. Hikers tell stories of being chased away by people in “flowing cloaks.” SFGATE
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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