Essential California: He made large drug busts on the 5 Freeway. Now an L.A. County deputy's credibility is being questioned in court

Essential California: He made large drug busts on the 5 Freeway. Now an L.A. County deputy's credibility is being questioned in court
L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy James Peterson during a Oct. 11, 2016, traffic stop in which drugs were found. A judge recently threw out the guns and drugs Peterson found after a traffic stop, deciding a video showed no legal grounds for the stop. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 15. Here's what you don't want to miss this weekend:



They all fall apart

In recent months, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy James Peterson made at least six large busts, uncovering stashes of narcotics in cars he stopped for speeding and other minor violations. In one vehicle, he found a storage compartment stuffed with 28 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin. Some of the men he arrested were armed. Now his credibility is being questioned in court. Los Angeles Times

Get ready for Star Wars-land

The alien world of the "Star Wars"-inspired lands is coming to Disney's North American theme parks in 2019. A 50-foot model unveiled at the all-things Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim Thursday night showed off a world that looks to be a diverse ecosystem of otherworldly cultures. Los Angeles Times

A new arts center

Aided by more than $36 million in public funds, the county has transformed two historic but dilapidated buildings near Olvera Street into a colorful, modern space with revolving art shows, interactive history exhibits, community events, a vegetable garden and a performance stage. Los Angeles Times


State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of an unaccompanied minor immigrant who is fighting deportation. Los Angeles Times

See you in court: Renowned scientists Vicki Lundblad and Katherine Jones this week sued their employer, the Salk Institute, alleging that they and other women have suffered long-term gender discrimination at the La Jolla science center. San Diego Union Tribune

Have fun! "The California State Fair has long recognized the state as an agricultural powerhouse. Now, for the first time in its 164-year history, it is devoting an exhibit to the people who keep it running: farmworkers." Fresno Bee

Fancy that: A recent analysis by the American Immigration Council found that more than 42% of California's workers in science, technology, engineering and math occupations were born in a foreign nation. The Mercury News


See how much fun Jon Schleuss, Priya Krishnakumar and Joe Fox (front row on the right) had on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disney’s California Adventure park.
See how much fun Jon Schleuss, Priya Krishnakumar and Joe Fox (front row on the right) had on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disney’s California Adventure park. (Photo courtesy of Jon Schleuss, Priya Krishnakumar and Joe Fox)

Earlier this week, we published a story about the long wait times at Disneyland. Below, Times graphic and data journalists Jon Schleuss, Priya Krishnakumar and Joe Fox explain why they felt it was necessary to actually go to the amusement park and test the lines:

Few people have a job where they're paid to go to Disneyland, but we do! Our adventures with Mickey began when Times reporters Hugo Martin and Ben Poston came to us with a story about longer wait times at the amusement park. After crunching the numbers, they discovered that the wait times had dramatically increased in 2017.


We charted out the wait times for every ride in both parks but wondered how a couple of the conclusions could even be possible.

Data from the single-rider lines for some of the most popular attractions showed wait times of less than five minutes. That seemed way too fast. We also saw that the wait times at the Guardians of the Galaxy rides sometimes stretched to over three hours. It sounded too crazy to be true. Also at this point, we had decided to do some videos. So we realized that we absolutely needed to go to Disneyland for "work."

It actually was a lot of work.

We got to the parks around 7 a.m. and were inside California Adventure by 7:30, when two lines formed for the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride. After grabbing a fastpass we stayed focused on our goal: to get on the rides with the 10 highest wait times.

We checked out those unbelievable single-rider lines. If you're willing to go on alone, you save a ton of time in those lines. We saved 14 minutes at Indiana Jones. Fifty minutes at Splash Mountain. Folks in the standby line at Radiator Springs Racers (the main Cars Land ride) waited more than an hour to get on the line. We waited four minutes.

Our on-the-ride reporting confirmed that the data were correct, and by 9 p.m. we were beat, having ridden all the most popular rides and then some. Priya didn't let Jon linger to watch a parade and dance show. And Jon ate five bananas before noon. ("They were cheap and nutritious," he said).

If you're planning a trip to the park this summer, we have two key pieces of advice: Get there as early as possible — and take advantage of those single-rider lines!

Also, Priya recommends getting a pickle.

This week's most popular stories in Essential California:

1. Workers aboard the Queen Mary just made a startling discovery: a hidden room. The Press-Telegram

2. L.A. took its water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back. Los Angeles Times

3. Mother Ocean calls me on a roasting midsummer day. I feel as if I've been harpooned. Los Angeles Times


4. Don't waste your time at Disneyland. Here's how to avoid the lines. Los Angeles Times

5. A Santa Barbara news crew takes scary ride through Whittier fire. San Diego Union-Tribune

ICYMI, here are this week's Great Reads

Blast off: Thanks to advances in fuel, materials and electronics, a new generation of rockets, while physically smaller than some of the Space Age beasts, will likely be more efficient and cost-effective. They will be able to hoist massive spy satellites to a high orbit or ferry crews into deep space. The rush of new rockets has prompted some to question whether NASA even needs to build its own massive new space vehicle — and whether there will be enough launch business to go around. Los Angeles Times

All that snow! Trails, roads and campgrounds throughout the Sierra high country were hit hard by snow and runoff from one of the largest snowpacks in recorded history, leaving public agencies scrambling and summer visitors feeling lost. At Tioga Pass Lodge, established in 1914, loyalists' hopes of kicking back on a sunny afternoon have taken a particularly tough wallop. Los Angeles Times

Out in Anaheim: In order to battle a surge of homelessness in Disneyland's shadow, Anaheim is removing bus benches. Los Angeles Times

Four decades later: Even after 40 years, the San Francisco band Maze and Frankie Beverly continue to spread happy feelings through their music. The Undefeated

What's Dana up to? Donald Trump Jr. wasn't the only person who met with a Russian lawyer and her former intelligence agent associate during the height of last year's election campaign. Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher also met with Rinat Akhmetshin last year in Washington. POLITICO

Looking Ahead

Sunday: The Disney D23 Expo concludes at Disneyland.

Tuesday: California State University Board of Trustees meet in Long Beach.

Saturday: Los Angeles area Emmy Awards are held.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.