Essential California: Unclogging the ports backlog, more cheating at L.A. County Fire

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Feb. 24. There will be sunny skies today, which shouldn't be a surprise, because Los Angeles remains on pace for below-average rainfall this year. Here’s what’s happening today in the Golden State:


That port backlog? It will take months to clear

The labor dispute at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach may be over, but it will still be several months until it’s business as usual. Port officials estimate that it will take three months to clear out the cargo that backed up during the dispute between shipping companies and the longshoremen’s union. The two sides reached an agreement late Friday, though the contract still needs to be ratified. L.A. Times

More cheating at L.A. County Fire

The cheating scandal at the Los Angeles County Fire Department is getting worse. First, a Times investigation (and later a county audit) found that insiders had access to the interview questions and answers for job candidates. Now, county auditors have found that the cheating appears to have extended to exams for promotion and other testing requirements within the department. "I find the fire chief's response to us inadequate,” County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. L.A. Times


Board score: Women, 4; Men, 1? Much has been written about women losing representation in California’s local and state governments. But the L.A. County Board of Supervisors could prove to be the exception in 2016. The board, which already has two women among its five members, could have a female majority, a first since its establishment in 1852. Supervisors Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich will be termed out of office, and so far the field of candidates hoping to succeed them includes Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles) and Kathryn Barger, a top deputy to Antonovich. L.A. Times

Big hopes, smaller boxes: Seven years ago, L.A. City Hall tried to stop developers from tearing down older homes and replacing them with oversized, boxy houses that bump up against property lines. Officials are once again taking up the issue of “mansionization,” but critics say this latest attempt would still allow developers to dramatically change the character of city neighborhoods. L.A. Times

The roar of the turnstiles: Sales and admission taxes and other revenue from a proposed NFL stadium in Inglewood could boost the municipal budget by as much as $28 million a year, according to a study commissioned by city officials. The Inglewood City Council is expected to take up zoning issues associated with the stadium this evening. L.A. Times

Roll over (and over), Beethoven: The L.A. Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela will collaborate on an extended ode to Beethoven. Each orchestra will play four of the composer’s symphonies, and then the two will come together for Symphony No. 9. As a prelude to the Beethoven celebration, the two groups, under the direction of the Phil's Gustavo Dudamel, will play the season’s opening gala concert together. L.A. Times

Hope you’re hungry: For fans of cheap eats, here is one menu of 23 of the best dishes you can get in Los Angeles for less than $10. BuzzFeed

L.A. in 152 seconds: Do you have about 2 1/2 minutes? If so, you have just enough time to see the famous landmarks of L.A. YouTube


A good guy retires: Politics in the tiny city of South Gate can best be described as a blood sport, but for almost 30 years Councilman Henry Gonzalez was one of the good guys. Gonzalez, the city’s first Latino mayor, oversaw the development of a new shopping center and movie theater. How cut-throat was South Gate’s politics back in the day? Gonzalez once survived a bullet to the head. L.A. Times

Driving is so last century: Commuters who drive in San Francisco are now in the minority. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency found that more than half the trips made in and out of the city last year were done by public transportation, a ride-sharing company, walking or cycling. L.A. Times

Snowboarding in freefall: The winter sport has experienced a sharp dropoff in popularity. One reason? Snowboarders were traditionally on the younger side, and now they’ve grown up and had families. Representatives with ski resorts in the Inland Empire cite the recession and the drought as other factors. Orange County Register

Fire up your jetpack (with conditions): It sounds like something out of “The Jetsons,” but it’s actually business as usual in Southern California. The Newport Beach City Council is considering how best to regulate water-propulsion businesses in the harbor. Strapping on a jetpack and flying over the water may get the adrenaline going, but critics say that it’s also noisy and that the spray can damage the paint on boats. Daily Pilot


This year’s Academy Awards were roundly criticized for the lack of diversity of nominees in the four major acting categories. Host Neil Patrick Harris even opened the telecast of the awards with a quip: “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest -- I mean brightest.” By the end of the night, though, Alejandro G. Iñarritu had taken home the Oscar for best director, making it the second year in a row that a Mexican filmmaker had done so. His film, "Birdman," was named best picture. L.A. Times

How do feel about diversity in Hollywood and how it is being covered by the media? Tell us by tweeting with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.


Data show that Asian immigrants are less likely than other groups to seek deportation protection, the L.A. Times reports. With regard to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, here is how often eligible populations, with country of origin, are applying for protection:

-- South Korea, 24%

-- Philippines, 26%

-- India, 28%

-- Colombia, 34%

-- El Salvador, 44%

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