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Morning Scoop: Homes burn, Hoagie, drug-testing the school band

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Good morning from the City Desk. We're constantly updating our Santa Barbara fire coverage. We've got photographers and reporters fanned out around the fire area. A sampler of California stories from today's paper:

Catherine Saillant and Steve Chawkins were on the scene soon after the Jesusita fire flared up Wednesday afternoon. Flames hopscotched across exclusive canyon neighborhoods, burning an as-yet-unknown number of homes.

California voters likely will face another ballot measure next year on gay marriage, report Jessica Garrison and Maura Dolan.

David Kelly takes on a weighty question: Was Hoagie a hero when he met the mountain lion or just a hapless mutt who happened to pick on the wrong cat?

Columnist Hector Tobar pays tribute to writer John Fante and the L.A. he wrote about, which has mostly fallen victim to the wrecking ball. L.A., he says, should treasure its history more.

The Sacramento lobbying firm of Darius Anderson is being looked at in the New York pension inquiry, report Evan Halper and Michael Rothfeld.

A Northern California school district decided to subject participants in numerous school activities -- including the band -- to random drug testing. A Shasta County Superior Court  judge has granted a preliminary injunction barring the district from enforcing the drug testing program and said the policy probably violates students' constitutional rights, reports Victoria Kim.

In his Failure Gets a Pass series, Jason Song has told the story of Matthew Kim, a teacher the LAUSD has spent seven years and nearly $2 million trying to fire. Wednesday, Kim spoke to Song. He said he was not guilty of sexual harassment and that the district had discriminated against him.

He was angry at first when a motorcycle accident cost him his left leg. Then, writes Bob Pool, Felix Hackenberg discovered the joy of biking.

Wednesday, a convicted sex offender pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Donna Jou of Rancho Santa Margarita, last seen on June 23, 2007. Today, he will sit down with her parents, who will be able to ask him questions, reports Paloma Esquivel.

Look for our fire coverage today on this blog and on Twitter @latimescitydesk. We'll bring you other news as we get it.

-- Nita Lelyveld

Twitter180Leave us your comments here or follow @latimescitydesk on Twitter.

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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