Essential California: Redrawing California as we know it

Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 27. Researchers at UC Berkeley have made a surprising discovery -- robots are bad at doing laundry. Who knew? Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Political clout

California’s politicians and election officials will be all ears when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on how local and state political districts should be drawn. At issue is whether the size of a district should be based on the number of residents or number of eligible voters. The decision could greatly weaken the political clout of cities like Los Angeles that have large immigrant populations. Los Angeles Times

Also, California could be a big loser if the court’s ultimate ruling is broad enough to impact districts at the federal level. That’s because of the state’s large non-citizen population. One expert estimates the state could lose six congressional seats. Los Angeles Times

Fugitive cop arrested

A former Los Angeles police officer wanted for murder was arrested in Mexico after a two-month search. That he was found in Mexico wasn’t much of a surprise -- his father had previously admitted to authorities that he helped his son reach El Paso and cross the border. Henry Solis is accused of shooting a man in a Pomona parking lot in March. Los Angeles Times

Time for Dodger baseball

Dodger fans rejoice -- if you get your cable TV signal from Charter Communications, that is. The company, which is orchestrating a $56.7-billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, will soon be offering the SportsNetLA channel. In just a matter of weeks, cable subscribers in Glendale, Burbank, Malibu and Long Beach will be able to watch games, something that has eluded many fans as providers have balked at paying for the pricey channel. Los Angeles Times



Lawn rebates: With so many Californians ripping out their lawns, the Metropolitan Water District is boosting the budget for its turf removal rebates by $350 million. Demand for the program soared after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% cut in urban water use. Some water officials, however, opposed the budget allocation, saying the state can’t simply buy its way out of a drought. Los Angeles Times

Rain dance: When San Diego experienced a drought in 1915, it hired “moisture accelerator” Charles Hatfield. He got to work and a year later, the city received 30 inches of rain, which led to floods and two deaths. “Just what Hatfield did at his tower near Lake Morena is unclear. Some accounts indicate he set the chemicals on fire and let the smoke drift upward.” Los Angeles Times

Meatless every day: Go vegan and save water. That’s one tip from director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron. The man behind “Avatar” also unveiled solar-powered “sunflowers,” which are environmentally friendly and pleasing to the eye. LA Observed

Drought defenses: The state is building a barrier across the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to prevent saltwater contamination. In a normal year, fresh water flowing in rivers that feed the Delta would be enough to push back the ocean water. Capital Public Radio



Saving history: A group of planners, historians and conservationists are working together to preserve the city’s history. In a Q&A, the “space savers” identify Parker Center, the Sports Arena and Yamashiro (yes, the hilltop sushi restaurant) as endangered buildings. Los Angeles Magazine

Red means stop: It wasn’t that long ago that cities were turning off red-light cameras because the fines were too expensive. Now Beverly Hills is preparing to bring them back, but in an effort to give drivers a fighting chance, city officials will length the yellow light at each of the intersections. Curbed LA

Where the sidewalk ends: Since the 1970s, Los Angeles city officials have been looking for ways around paying for sidewalk repairs. The latest recommendation is that commercial property owners should fix up the walkways next to their businesses. Homeowners might get their sidewalks repaired by the city, but future upkeep would be left to them. Los Angeles Times

Overloaded with overtime: When Controller Ron Galperin audited overtime in the Department of Transportation, he made sure to find the worst offenders -- the supervisor who tripled his salary with overtime, for example, and the employees who billed more than $48,000 beyond their salary. “That’s staggering,” Galperin said. Los Angeles Times



Courting voters: State Republicans aren’t taking their cues from the national GOP when it comes to immigration. They’ve toned down their rhetoric and criticism of immigration. It’s the first step toward appealing to more voters, particularly Latino voters. Capital Public Radio

Direct democracy: The state’s initiative system has already been co-opted by wealthy Californians, but now the state Assembly wants to make it even more expensive to propose a ballot measure. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) says hiking the fee from $200 to $8,000 would make it more difficult to file outlandish initiatives, like the one that calls for the execution of gays and lesbians. Los Angeles Times



LAPD ridealong: Since the 1992 riots, Los Angeles has embraced “community policing,” the idea that officers should have a relationship with the people they protect and serve. But as crime stats creep back up, Mayor Eric Garcetti has called for the LAPD’s elite Metro officers to swarm areas where there are increases in criminal activity. 89.3 KPCC

Up in smoke: Consider this another reason to say no to drugs. A Perris man was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a $6.5-million fine for lighting a fire at a marijuana growing site. That fire turned into a massive wildfire that consumed 1,600 acres in the Sequoia National Forest. Los Angeles Times

Getaway vehicles: Seventy-six Zipcars vanished in six weeks. San Francisco police say the culprit was a serial car thief. SF Gate



Turn on, tune out: Can ecstasy relieve anxiety? That’s what one doctor is trying to determine at a hilltop psychotherapy center in Marin County. Dr. Philip Wolfson has gotten the OK from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to study how patients are able to control anxiety or depression through a combination of intense therapy and ecstasy. SF Gate



Danger ahead: Fellow Californians, did you know we are living on the “edge of imminent demise?” This handy chart shows just how the state will end at the hands of the drought, an earthquake or the Kardashians. Vanity Fair

Home for sale: Talk about confidence. One developer is building a Bel-Air compound on spec with the hopes of selling it for $500 million. That would make it the most expensive home sale in the world. The property would include a 30-car garage and casino. Bloomberg

Public art: From Long Beach to Canoga Park to Pomona, the Southland is embracing art walks. LA Weekly



Los Angeles will have patchy fog in the morning, with temperatures reaching 74 degrees. In San Diego, there’s a chance of drizzle before 11 a.m. with a high of 67. San Francisco will have patchy fog and clouds with temperatures near 60.



What’s one of the objects most closely associated with California? There are several, but the answer we were looking for today is the Golden Gate Bridge. It was opened to pedestrians on this day in 1937.



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.