Essential California: Today, L.A. decides the future of its schools

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, May 16, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Charter school future on the ballot

There’s a whole lot at stake in Tuesday’s election to fill two seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education. For the first time, candidates funded by charter-school advocates could win a majority of seats on the seven-member school board of the nation’s second-largest school system. It’s been a brutal, expensive campaign with the future of the L.A. schools potentially on the line. Los Angeles Times


-- Here are the candidates’ views on a number of issues that have defined this race. Los Angeles Times

-- How expensive has the battle been? Nearly $15 million — and counting. You might know some of the donors. Los Angeles Times

-- The L.A. school fight is part of a much bigger battle. L.A. School Report

-- And where the founder of Netflix stands. Los Angeles Times

But wait, there’s more!

It’s election day not just for the L.A. school board, but also two new L.A. City Council members and a police discipline ballot measure. Los Angeles Times

Pelosi speaks

Even now, six months after Donald Trump won the presidency, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to talk about election night. She prefers to fast-forward to what happened next — and the resistance that’s emerged since the businessman took office. “Usually after an election when you don’t win, it’s very silent. Nobody calls,” Pelosi said. To her surprise, the phone started ringing. And it didn’t stop. “We were overwhelmed, inundated by people saying, ‘This is urgent. What can we do to help?’” she said. Los Angeles Times


Caught on camera: A man was fatally shot by police on live TV after a pursuit through South L.A. on Monday afternoon. Los Angeles Times

Some shocking findings: Here’s a look at five years of officer-involved shootings in San Bernardino County — an area with a population larger than New Mexico. The results are striking. KPCC

A different kind of hostage: Online pirates are claiming that they have taken Disney’s latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie hostage, and they’re demanding a ransom. Los Angeles Times

Union fight: A unionization battle divides Spanish-language radio in L.A. LA Weekly


Making it personal: The faces of California’s immigration debate. KQED

Stopped on base: Construction workers at a California military base have been detained by ICE. The Mercury News


Becerra bashes Trump: California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday sharply criticized the decision by President Trump's administration to reinvigorate federal prosecution of drug crimes, saying the decision will have a disproportionate effect on communities of color. Los Angeles Times

Schnur will pay up: Dan Schnur, the former chairman of the state campaign watchdog agency, has agreed to pay that agency $4,500 in fines for failing to properly disclose and handle some campaign contributions to his unsuccessful 2014 run for secretary of state. Los Angeles Times

Boldfaced name: Whatever happened to Rep. Devin Nunes, who has fallen out of the public eye since he pulled back from leading the House Russia probe? Sacramento Bee

Anti-“stealthing” proposal: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) on Monday introduced a bill that would make it a form of rape to remove or tamper with a condom during sex without consent. Los Angeles Times


Bring it on, nuns: A high-profile Marin County lawyer, Chris Dolan, is in a neighborhood feud with a bunch of nuns. San Francisco Chronicle

Man avoids death penalty: An Oklahoma man accused in the fatal shootings of a Long Beach woman and her 4-year-old daughter will not face the death penalty if convicted, prosecutors announced Monday. Los Angeles Times

New evidence: A Colorado man was arraigned Monday on suspicion of the cold-case murders of two men in downtown Huntington Beach in 1994. Daily Pilot


Tortoise mystery: Wildlife biologists say an alarming number of female desert tortoise carcasses found earlier this year just outside the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park may be the result of mothers fighting extinction by exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs. Los Angeles Times

Learning their lesson: After leaving behind a mess last year at Shasta Lake, members of a University of Oregon fraternity made sure to clean up their act when they visited this year. Los Angeles Times

Bear on the freeway: Officials say a bear that wandered onto the 210 Freeway and was struck by a vehicle would be euthanized. Los Angeles Times


Hollywood mogul: The former head of Paramount Pictures, Brad Grey, died of cancer over the weekend at age 59. He forged relationships with a variety of Hollywood heavyweights. Los Angeles Times

Fun, fun, fun: Take a look at this hilarious take on Los Angeles’ street signs. The New Yorker

Mark your calendar: “A nude parade meant to celebrate the ideology and values of the ‘Summer of Love’ is set to march through San Francisco on Saturday, May 20.” San Francisco Chronicle

California bike news: As the Tour of California bike race continues across the state, meet the rider who is fighting to rebuild American cycling. The Mercury News


San Diego and Los Angeles area: partly cloudy Tuesday and Wednesday. Sacramento and San Francisco area: cloudy Tuesday, sunny Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Neil Mitchell Cowan

“It was 1958, and while waterskiing on a delta near Stockton, I glided onto a sand beach and looked up. A man in a suit was frolicking toward me and suddenly skidded to a halt muttering a four-letter word. A gaggle of similarly dressed folks came over the rise and halted in surprise. It turns out that we had stumbled onto the set of ‘Porgy and Bess.’ They were filming the Sportin’ Life scene with Sammy Davis Jr. — you can see the wake of my skis in the movie.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.

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