Good morning. It’s Friday, Sept. 29.
- The land barons that rule California’s heartland.
- Relentless killing in Mendocino County’s Round Valley.
- And the best taco places in cities across the state.
During the flooding of the Tulare Lake basin last March, agitated farmers voiced suspicion that the tomato-growing giant J.G. Boswell Co. was rigging levees to spare its property at others’ expense. County supervisors responded by voting for the first time to cut a levee on Boswell farmland. Infuriated, Boswell’s president, George Wurzel, made a remarkable claim: “In 98 years the county supervisors have never gotten involved in telling us where to put floodwater.” The L.A. Times produced a fascinating report on how government has long ceded power to the land barons of the San Joaquin Valley.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto hundreds of bills advanced during the 2023 legislative session. Bills that got his approval in recent days would:
- lift the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour, among the highest in the country.
- provide legal protections to medical providers who mail abortion- or gender-related medication to states where they are prohibited.
- allow doctors living in states where abortion is banned to receive training in California.
Two months after California’s epic ski season concluded at Mammoth Mountain, forecasters said a chilly storm this weekend would deliver the first snow of the new season in the high Sierra. Models suggested the snow line could drop as low as 7,000 feet, blanketing Mammoth and several Tahoe resorts. Across much of the rest of the state, the forecast called for rain and temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below average. Accuweather | L.A. Times
See National Weather Service forecasts:
Yelp ranked the top 100 taco places in the U.S. based on the volume and ratings of customer reviews, among other factors. One out of every three in the top 50 were in California. A sampling:
- San Diego: The Craft Taco at SOVA
- Laguna Hills: Tacos De Birria Estilo Guadalajara
- Riverside: Birrieria Little Tijuana
- Los Angeles: Frogtowns Gourmet Tacos
- Bishop: Mercado Mexico
- San Francisco: El Gallo Giro Taco Truck
- Sacramento: Taqueria La Perla Tapatia
For years, Mendocino County’s isolated Round Valley Reservation has been plagued by seemingly unending murders, touching every member of the tribe. Most recently, in March, 20-year-old Nicholas Whipple wound up dead by the side of a road, savagely beaten and shot at close range. The writer Daniel Duane ventured down unmarked country roads to talk to the parents, siblings, and cousins of victims. He asked repeatedly about motives.
“Just stupid kid stuff,” one person said.
“They say it was over a boyfriend or something,” said another.
“The cartel is here. I don’t care what anybody says,” said a third. “Open your eyes.” Alta magazine
“The most uncomfortable live interview I have ever witnessed.”Alex Heath, The Verge editor
Linda Yaccarino, the former NBCUniversal executive who Elon Musk hired to rebuild X, sat down for a live interview during a tech conference in Orange County that was at times testy and awkward. Yaccarino insisted that X was on track to turn a profit next year and that she is not a CEO in name only. She also dismissed the idea that her power was diminished by Musk’s control of the tech company’s product. “Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?” Yaccarino asked the audience. Laughter erupted. Vox | The Verge
- Watch the interview. 👉 YouTube (~38 mins)
Before it was displaced by a shopping plaza in 1995, the Marin City Flea Market served as major community hub for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s, the photographer Nancy Kittle made portraits of the colorful characters who congregated there, hawking their stained-glass sculptures, blue-green algae tinctures, and second-hand dresses. A collection of her pictures recalls the charm of the outdoor marketplace before the age of “frictionless” online shopping. Flashbak | L.A. Archivists Collective
The threat to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership appeared to sharpen on Thursday as his rivals privately discussed names of potential replacements, reports said. The Bakersfield Republican has consistently tried to placate hard-liners in his party as the government heads toward a shutdown over funding disagreements. But their disaffection seems to only have grown. “He’s done some good things, but I’m tired of messaging votes,” one House Freedom Caucus member said. “We’re losing our damn country.” Washington Post | Politico
The conservative majority on Huntington Beach’s City Council has been moving toward enacting a law to require voters to present identification at the ballot box. “Our democracy does not work if people do not have faith in the election results,” Mayor Tony Strickland said in July. In a letter to the council Thursday, California’s attorney general and secretary of state warned that the measure conflicts with state law and would “suppress voter participation.” They added: “We stand ready to take appropriate action to ensure that voters’ rights are protected.” Voice of OC | Sacramento Bee
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Paul Carter, author of the new book “Richard Nixon: California’s Native Son.” Carter portrays Nixon not as the bumbling public figure who resigned the White House in disgrace, but a man full of confidence who loved the outdoors and led sing-alongs at the piano. “Very well liked, very well rounded,” Carter said. “Just an amazing all-American life.”
A real estate agent celebrating a sale in Malibu shared a photo of the property on Instagram that delighted architecture lovers online. The home was built in 1979 by the celebrated architect Doug Rucker, who took extreme steps to meld the home into its rocky surroundings. That included building the glass walls around giant boulders that thrust into the home like furniture. Reporter Dan Latu talked to the listing agent, who said they made a deal with a buyer who was outbid but who offered the strongest assurances to preserve the home. See pictures. 👉 Insider
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- Around Joshua Tree, a magnet for artists and free thinkers, many of the homes take inspiration from the surreal forms of the desert. Field Magazine rounded up 20 of their favorite rental cabins near the national park with an eye toward attractive architecture, including the modernist creation above.
- Sam Altman, the OpenAI CEO, has a sister named Annie that he seldom talks about. She is an artist and the host of a podcast called “All Humans Are Human.” When she faced financial hardship a few years ago, she asked her wealthy brother for help. He refused, and Annie turned to sex work. New York Magazine
- The Dodgers’ Brusdar Graterol, 25, has been pitching in the U.S. without his mother attending a single game for the last seven years. Ysmalia Graterol was stuck in Venezuela. But on Sunday, they had a tearful reunion at LAX, and two days later, she saw him pitch in the big leagues for the first time. Both moments were captured on video:
- In a span of four months this year, three students at the most prestigious high school in Los Angeles died by suicide. Patronized by the city’s wealthy and famous, Harvard-Westlake is known as a reliable springboard into the Ivy League. The pressure to excel is intense. Air Mail
- The popular drone photographer, Carlos Gauna, shared some chilling new footage of great whites lurking near beachgoers in Southern California. Stay for the shark-surfer encounter at the 2:50-minute mark. 👉 YouTube
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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