Essential California: Millions flowed to local mayor's firms

Good morning. It is Tuesday, April 28. California’s ongoing drought could cause brownouts as we head into the summer. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Ruling on gay rights

With the United States Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments today in a landmark case on same-sex marriage, the Los Angeles Times looks at Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s past decisions on cases involving gay rights. "Almost no one foresaw that the justice from Sacramento would turn out to be the Supreme Court’s most important voice on gay rights, writing every major decision over the last two decades."

City of Industry audit

Over a 20-year span, the City of Industry allowed more than $300 million in public funds to flow to companies owned by then-Mayor Dave Perez and his family. The Los Angeles Times reports that often invoices provided by those companies lacked information about what work had been done. An audit also found that the Perez companies often charged higher rates than competitors. The Los Angeles Times reported on these conflicts back in 2009.



Importing water: Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton explains siphoning water from Alaska, along with a host of other water proposals, won’t fix the drought.

GOP wants reservoirs: A Republican proposal to build more reservoirs on an expedited timetable stalled in an Assembly committee Monday as it faced opposition from Democrats and environmentalists, reports the Los Angeles Times.

10 ways to help the drought: Nine water experts weighed in on what Californians can do to conserve water with the state in a fourth year of drought. Suggestions in the L.A. Times op-ed include more water meters, tiered pricing and better storage.



Details on port dispute: A new lawsuit is shedding light on the work stoppages that took place at West Coast ports back in February. Dock official David Miller is suing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, asserting that he was defamed after a conflict with "Big Bob" McEllrath, the San Francisco-based president of ILWU. The story is ultimately about two very stubborn men, according to the Los Angeles Times.



Man-made river: Bringing back the Los Angeles River is a "grand exercise in modern ecosystem manipulation," according to Wired. Even the river’s biggest supporter calls the channel "artificial."

SeaWorld critic: Jane Goodall wants to see San Diego-based SeaWorld shut down. "It’s not only that they’re really big, highly intelligent and social animals so that the capture and confinement in itself is cruel," Goodall told the Huffington Post, the captive orcas "have emotions like ours."

Technology in nature: Google technology is helping conservationists keep an eye on Bishop pines on Santa Cruz Island. The Google Trekker will help scientists find where the trees are dying and help them direct their conservation efforts, according to 89.3 KPCC.



High rollers: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in California next week for a series of fundraisers, and supporters are being told to each find 10 donors who can give the maximum amount of $2,700, reports Buzzfeed.

Musical chairs: Politicians already are lining up for the seat held by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), even though she hasn’t yet announced whether she’ll run for the U.S. Senate, according to the Orange County Register.

Nudity and equality: Vice did a Q&A with the woman who wants to make it legal for women to go topless on Venice Beach. "I thought that this topic, although a serious equality issue, has the ability to start a conversation and get people involved," said Melissa Diner.



Policing prostitution: Orange County detectives and prosecutors are using pimps' own "how-to" guides to better understand prostitution and the victimization of sex workers, per the Orange County Register. "You can’t throw the word 'slavery' around carelessly but we are dealing with modern-day slavery here," said one deputy district attorney.

Alleged police abuse: A Bay Area model is suing the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department, alleging officers broke bones in her face when she was arrested on St. Patrick's Day 2014. Footage from a body camera captured part of the arrest, reports the Los Angeles Times.



Tough regulations: Short-term rentals like Airbnb could soon face a major crackdown from the city of Santa Monica. The city council is considering a law that would ban vacation rentals, which account for 1,400 of the city’s 1,700 rentals, according to the Los Angeles Times.



Soccer vs. football: Members of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League are taking on the San Francisco 49ers -- sorta. The young players and their parents are protesting a plan that would allow football executives to pave over soccer fields in order to provide VIP parking at their new stadium, according to SF Gate.



Wax sculpture: In San Francisco, Madame Tussauds is letting the public vote on which Bay Area innovator will be its next wax statue. Finalists include SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, reports SF Gate.

Lunchtime: Los Angeles Magazine looks at the various components of lunch within the L.A. Unified School District.

Night vision: A new video, shot by a drone, shows the beauty of downtown Los Angeles at night.



Is there something we missed in today’s Essential California? Drop us a line and we’ll include your link (and a credit) in tomorrow’s edition. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



Parts of Northern California got some snow this week, leaving a snow pack. However, it should be gone soon as temperatures warm. Tuesday's forecast is expected to be 87 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles, 79 degrees and sunny in San Diego, and 63 degrees and partly cloudy in San Francisco.



A tanker truck spilled 6,000 gallons of milk on a highway in Northern California. Eater San Francisco estimates that could have made 96,000 lattes. What a waste.



Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.