Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 17.
- Former congressman T.J. Cox arrested on fraud charges.
- Alleged cruelty at live animal markets in San Francisco.
- And an artificial turf boom in Southern California.
The FBI arrested a former congressman from the San Joaquin Valley early Tuesday on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and campaign contribution fraud. Prosecutors accused T.J. Cox, a Democrat, of multiple schemes, including stealing money from companies with which he was affiliated, lying to a mortgage lender, and arranging “straw” donors to illegally donate to his campaign. He pleaded not guilty. “I wouldn’t be in this position today but for the politics,” he said. “I think we know that.” Washington Post | San Joaquin Valley Sun
In a first for 2022, California issued a statewide Flex Alert — a call for voluntary electricity conservation — for 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, as temperatures soar into triple digits across the state’s interior. Experts warned of potential blackouts heading into the season. Among the reasons: diminished hydropower because of the drought and the retirements of natural gas-fired power plants. Bloomberg | Sacramento Bee
Palo Alto: $4,672
Santa Monica: $4,357
Of the five most expensive cities to rent in the U.S., three are in California, according to a new report by the listing site Rent. Glendale, the costliest city in Southern California, experienced a staggering 36% increase in the average rent from 2021. In Palo Alto, the increase was 31%. L.A. Times
There are more than 100 California parks and preserves with redwoods between the Oregon border and Orange County. That means you have many alternatives to the crowded marquee destinations such as Muir Woods or Yosemite. The travel writer Jacqueline Kehoe recommended seven less-visited destinations to lose yourself among the giants, including Eureka’s Sequoia Park Zoo, pictured above. AFAR
Here’s a great interactive redwoods map for California. 👉 Savetheredwoods.org
In 2017, the U.S. Forest Service approved a plan for prescribed burning and brush clearing to protect the Sierra town of Grizzly Flats from wildfires. By the deadline in 2020, hardly any of it was done. A year later, the Caldor Fire burned much of Grizzly Flats to the ground. Asked whether the town could have been saved, a Forest Service official responded: “I’m not really sure why we keep talking about that question. I mean, does anybody bear any responsibility for not having the budget to do the work that we need to do?” CapRadio
A California appeals court overturned $200,000 in fines levied against a San Jose church and its pastors for defying limits on indoor gatherings. The court found that Calvary Chapel’s religious freedom was violated, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibited restrictions for worship services stricter than those for secular activities like going to grocery stores. A church lawyer called the ruling a victory for liberty. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle
An animal advocacy group released video secretly recorded at live animal markets in San Francisco that it said documented numerous instances of “cold-blooded cruelty.” They included fish being slowly suffocated and bludgeoned; turtles and frogs sliced up while fully conscious; and frogs piled atop one another in waterless tubs. The group, Animal Outlook, said a city official committed to look into the matter. National Geographic
Over the last decade or so, America has embraced a neutral aesthetic with cars and homes painted in whites, grays, and beiges. But in San Francisco, a place so enamored by color it spawned what became known as the Colorist Movement, it’s still possible to find whole blocks where each home borrows a color from the rainbow. The photographer Joshua Singh recently captured the gorgeous picture above at the foot of Mount Davidson. @josh7185
“The system is approaching a tipping point.”
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Tuesday announced that water shortages along the Colorado River had passed a threshold for the first time that requires unprecedented water cuts in Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. California, the largest water user on the river, was spared any cuts — for now — because it has more senior water rights. But farmers in the Imperial Valley, a major produce region that relies wholly on the Colorado, were bracing for painful disruptions to come. Washington Post | Grist
Artificial turf suppliers are enjoying boom times in Southern California as homeowners come to the realization that lush lawns are no longer sustainable. Before this summer, roughly 300 applicants a month sought rebates to swap out grass. In June, the figure was nearly 1,400. “I feel like an analogy is it’s Covid and we’re the only ones with the masks,” said Mitchell Katz, the owner of Turf Exchange in Camarillo. N.Y. Times
Testimony in the trial over the sharing of photos from the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant was characterized by sudden amnesia and shifting stories on Monday. A retired fire captain, Brian Jordan, claimed to be unable to remember being at the crash site at all despite saying in an earlier deposition that he “walked most of the scene.” Pressed about his memories, Jordan bolted from the witness stand. “I need a break,” he announced. L.A. Times
Compton is testing a new strategy to combat raucous street takeovers: strategically placing Botts’ Dots at problem intersections. The dots, raised markers once common on California freeways, have been arranged in giant cross formations in hopes that they will be too bumpy for cars to perform spinouts and donuts. A week after they were installed, the intersections have been takeover-free, a councilman said. KABC | KTLA
Give the gift of the California Sun!
For $25, your recipient will get a nice email card and a 12-month subscription starting on the date of your choice.
👉 Sign up here.
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
Forward this email to a friend.
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.