Essential California: Turmoil in USC's MFA program

Good morning. It is Saturday, May 16. Here are a few stories to keep you busy this weekend:  

MFA students withdraw: A disagreement over the direction of USC’s Roski School of Art and Design has prompted the 2016 class of master of fine arts students to withdraw from the university. The departure of the seven students follows resignations by prominent faculty members. “It's a different program from what I enrolled in,” said one student. Los Angeles Times 

House sold, then moved: Nine years ago, the City of Industry’s redevelopment agency paid a company owned by then-Mayor Dave Perez and his family for a house and the surrounding plot of land. Mysteriously, the house later ended up back in the family’s possession -- and on another plot of land. “They just took it – they took the house,” said City Manager Kevin Radecki. Perez’s lawyer denies any wrongdoing and says the family had permission to move the house.  Los Angeles Times

Ex-sheriff leaves prison: Former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona was moved from a federal prison medical center to a halfway house this week. Carona started his prison sentence in 2011 after he was convicted of witness tampering. He’s expected to be released from custody in November. Los Angeles Times

Backroom deals: Some observers think the Los Angeles City Council is becoming more and more like the state Legislature. The latest example was a last-minute effort to slip a paid-leave provision into a minimum wage bill without discussion or debate. LA Weekly

Water systems’ vulnerabilities: Los Angeles County has 228 water systems and 75% of them are facing vulnerabilities, according to a new report. “Although they serve a tiny portion of the population, it’s often the smaller community systems that are most vulnerable to water supply issues, and arguably, demand extra attention.” City Lab

Plenty of water: One advantage that many California rice farmers have over farmers growing other crops is their access to river water. Bloomberg

Dangers of phones: The city of Berkeley wants cellphone stores to start posting warnings about radiofrequency energy from wireless devices.”The view of the U.S. government on RF energy, for what it’s worth, is that ‘scientific evidence has not conclusively linked cell phone use with any adverse health problems, but more research is needed.’” City Lab

New fees: Camping and vehicle fees for Joshua Tree National Park will increase in June. Desert Sun

Sutter’s competition: California has a new deputy dog and her name is Colusa. Twitter


This week’s most popular stories in Essential California


  1. What would Mickey Mouse think? A large population of feral cats is living in the happiest place on earth. Their existence can be tracked on Instagram at Cats of Disneyland. Los Angeles Times

  2. If you haven’t heard that California is deep into a drought, then you’re not alone. Here’s a handful of celebrities that have let the gardens surrounding their mansions remain lush while other Californians are told to conserve. Los Angeles Times

  3. First, she revived the career of Bruce Jenner. Then, she made her six children household names. Now, Kris Jenner is getting some attention for her business savvy. The New York Times Magazine

  4. It’s pretty routine for customers to leave nasty Yelp reviews about a business. But it really gets people’s attention when the tables are flipped and it’s the owner who writes the scathing review of the customer. Los Angeles Times

  5. These days, if you have enough money to live next to LAX, you also have enough to live in Beverly Hills. It’s just the latest stat about an out-of-control rental market. Curbed LA

ICYMI, here are this week’s Great Reads

Celebrated jumping frog: Remembering how a California frog jump-started the literary career of Mark Twain. Los Angeles Times

Brazil's police shootings: Residents in Brazil’s favelas are banding together to protest the violence inflicted by police. Los Angeles Times

Photographing disaster: One Nepalese photographer is traveling around his country, handing out supplies and photographing the damage of two devastating earthquakes. Los Angeles Times


Looking Ahead

-- The Los Angeles City Council is expected to take up the issue of increasing the city’s minimum wage.

-- Tuesday is Election Day for the L.A. City Council and L.A. Unified Board of Education.

--Pasadena officials will discuss new water restrictions in the wake of the drought.

-- Actress Melissa McCarthy gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

-- The Metro Board will discuss its proposed 2016 budget.


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.