Good morning. It’s Friday, Dec. 8.
- Kevin McCarthy used his PAC to enjoy the high life.
- California faces its largest-ever budget deficit.
- And the Hollywood sign turns 100 years old.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy has used a thinly regulated leadership PAC to spend lavishly on high-end resorts, private jets, and fine dining, a journalism investigation found. He especially enjoyed the luxurious Terranea Resort on the cliffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula that can cost $3,000 a night. All told, McCarthy’s PAC dropped more than $1 million on hotels, meals, and private jets, more than 10 times the spending of other congressional leaders. The PAC controlled by Rep. Nancy Pelosi spent $17,000. L.A. Times
In a searing column, Michelle Cottle asked Kevin McCarthy if it was worth it. “Of course, a shape-shifting, flip-flopping, overpromising, self-serving politician is nothing new. Where Mr. McCarthy truly distinguished himself was in his willingness and ability to debase himself in the service of Donald Trump — even as he occasionally pretended to still have a spine.” N.Y. Times
- Devin Nunes. Shannon Grove. Nathan Magsig. Here are the potential contenders for McCarthy’s seat. 👉 CalMatters
California is expected to face a $68 billion deficit next fiscal year — its largest ever — as income-tax revenue plummets, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst announced on Thursday. The report attributed the gloomy outlook in part to higher borrowing costs, dwindling home sales, and smaller investments for businesses. Gov. Gavin Newsom was said to be seeking “major reforms” to a new minimum wage law for health-care workers that has an estimated price tag of $4 billion in its first year. L.A. Times | Bloomberg
In the 1970s, California set up a system of subsidized housing for migratory farmworkers who work during the growing season, then return home to Mexico during the winter and early spring. Fifty years later, most of the state’s farmworkers no longer migrate, yet they are still forced to vacate the housing and find somewhere else to stay in the off-season. The archaic system is especially hard on the workers’ children, whose schooling is perpetually disrupted. Sacramento Bee
Joseph Emerson, the pilot accused of trying to crash an Alaska Airlines jetliner in Oregon on Oct. 22, was released from custody on Thursday and will be allowed to return home to the Bay Area while awaiting trial. While Emerson, 44, was initially booked on 83 counts of attempted murder, a grand jury this week chose instead to indict him on endangerment charges. Emerson has attributed his outburst on the plane to the disorienting effects of hallucinogenic mushrooms consumed two days before the flight. Oregon Public Broadcasting | Oregonian
Peter Park became the youngest person to pass California’s notoriously difficult bar exam at the age of 17 — and he did it on his first try. Park entered high school at age 13, then blazed through a juris doctor program at Northwestern California University School of Law. He sat for the exam in July and got his results on Nov. 9. He was sworn in as a law clerk at the Tulare County district attorney’s office on Tuesday. Now 18, Park is one of the youngest practicing attorneys in the state. The Business Journal
Soaring Bay Area housing prices, a highly diverse community, and sublime produce have been catalysts for transforming Sacramento into a great restaurant town. Chefs source their ingredients from numerous farmers’ markets, including one with a D.J. and a bike valet. “We’re getting this very elite produce — and we get first pick,” said Ginger Elizabeth Hahn, a chocolatier. “Some of the wealthiest people on the planet don’t have access to some of this food. It’s mind-blowing.” N.Y. Times
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with S.F. Chronicle urban design critic John King, whose new book “Portal” tells the story of San Francisco through its one of its most recognizable landmarks, the Ferry Building. At the time of its construction in the late 1800s, American cities impressed arrivals to town with big train depots that “put on a show,” King said. “So San Francisco wanted one, except it was on the edge of water on three sides, so a train depot was kind of irrelevant. So it turned into the grandest ferry depot in the country.”
Alan Hostetter, a former police chief of La Habra, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison on Thursday after being convicted of joining the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol with a hatchet in his backpack. During his sentencing hearing, Hostetter delivered a lengthy conspiratorial rant, at one point praising Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy for suggesting that the Capitol siege was an “inside job.” “These conspiracy theories are no longer fringe,” Hostetter said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mariano called Hostetter a “terrorist.” NPR | A.P.
A federal grand jury indicted Hunter Biden on nine tax charges on Thursday as a special counsel investigation into his business dealings intensifies. Biden, who lives in Malibu, was accused of a scheme to evade $1.4 million in taxes on income from foreign businesses between 2016 to 2019. “The defendant spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes,” prosecutors wrote. The N.Y. Times described the indictment as “a withering play-by-play of personal indulgence with potentially enormous political costs for his father.”
The Hollywood sign is turning 100 years old this year. The exact timing of its construction is unknown. But according to press reports from the time, it was on this day — Dec. 8, 1923 — that 3,700 light bulbs first illuminated the sign, making it a beacon in the night sky.
While intended as temporary advertising for the Hollywoodland real estate development, the sign was eventually embraced as a symbol of America’s dream factory. Over the years, it was periodically coopted by marketers, pranksters, and activists who trudged up the hill and altered the 45-foot white letters to fit their message.
Here’s a look back at some alterations of the Hollywood sign. 👇
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- In 1995, Jim Goldberg released his seminal photobook “Raised By Wolves,” about California street kids fumbling through lives beset by addiction and violence. Nearly 30 years later, the pictures are disturbing, beautiful, and sadly timeless. Magnum Photos
- After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, relief groups built more than 5,600 single-story structures for refugees. Dozens of the historic “earthquake shacks” still remain. A restored 611-square-foot specimen just hit the market for $898,000. Realtor.com
- The Art Deco Georgian Hotel opened along Santa Monica’s waterfront in 1933, drawing guests including Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Charlie Chaplin. The basement speakeasy has now reopened for the first time in more than 60 years with dim lighting, velvet curtains, and live jazz. Eater Los Angeles | World of Interiors
- Reporting fellow Angie Orellana Hernandez showed some mettle for her first big story in the L.A. Times: a profile of Los Angeles’ last porn theater. Venturing into the darkened halls of the Tiki Theater, she met the men who pay $20 for four-hour tickets to see such features as “Tiny & Tight Size Queens 2” and “Stepmom Seductions.” L.A. Times
- Between 2015 and 2020, the British photographer Zoe Childerley made several trips to an area around Joshua Tree for a project about the characters scratching out lives there. She focused largely on the women “embracing this formidable wild life.” Lens Culture | PhMuseum
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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