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Essential California: State officials say immigration agents showed up at labor dispute proceedings

Special counsel Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Why Los Angeles weather has been uncharacteristically muggy this week. As L.A.'s mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa got plenty of support from Hollywood -- but not as much as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has never tried to hide his friendliness toward Russia, but it's raising new eyebrows. 

Credits: Getty / KTLA

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Friday, Aug. 4, and here's what's happening across California:



Stopped at labor dispute proceedings

Federal immigration agents have shown up twice at California labor dispute proceedings to apprehend undocumented workers, in what state officials believe may be cases of employer retaliation. The Labor Commissioner's Office, the state's labor enforcement arm, said that since November agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have appeared at locations in Van Nuys and Santa Ana looking for workers who had brought claims against their employers. Los Angeles Times

Collecting the checks

As mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa sought the counsel of studio heads, fought for state tax credits to keep film and television production in the city and mingled with celebrities on the red carpet at glitzy film premieres and HBO parties. But as Villaraigosa runs for governor, Hollywood is divided. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Villaraigosa's chief rival, has raised nearly twice as much from donors tied to entertainment and the arts. Los Angeles Times

'Sanctuary city' reprisal

In another move to pressure cities into cooperating with immigration enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened Thursday to withhold crime-fighting help from four cities — including two in California — if they refuse to help federal agents target jail inmates suspected of being in the country illegally. But the decision to publicly question San Bernardino and Stockton appeared poorly thought out. Officials say neither city operates a jail. "The city of San Bernardino is not a sanctuary city," Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. Los Angeles Times

Pastor for Trump's team

Pastor Ralph Drollinger once said mothers of young children do not belong in state office. Now he leads Trump Cabinet members in Bible study. Drollinger also once declared that Roman Catholicism "is one of the primary false religions in the world" — precipitating his Bible study group's move out of a suite of offices controlled by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Catholic. Los Angeles Times


How the money flowed: A charter school advocacy group relied on major last-minute donations to help turn around a key Westside school board race and propel its favored candidates to a majority on the Los Angeles Board of Education, newly disclosed financial reports reveal. Los Angeles Times

Free Bieber: Police say Justin Bieber will not be charged for accidentally hitting a celebrity photographer with his pickup last month. Los Angeles Times

So we're not perfect: Mayor Eric Garcetti tempered his post-Olympic deal boosterism of L.A. with some reality in an interview with the Guardian. He called L.A. an "imperfect paradise" with serious inequities. The Guardian

"Caddyshack," Trump edition: They are going to war with gophers at the Trump National Golf Club in Palos Verdes. Daily Breeze

Angelyne responds: Angelyne, a.k.a. Renee Goldberg, responded to the Hollywood Reporter revealing her true identity. KPCC



Big changes afoot: Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall — a radical move away from the way public universities traditionally support students who come to college less prepared than their peers. Los Angeles Times

Oroville fallout: Two Butte County farmers have filed a $15-million claim against the state of California, claiming they lost valuable walnut trees as a result of the Oroville Dam crisis in February. Los Angeles Times

Bribery case: A former congressional aide was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of taking a bribe from a Compton marijuana shop, federal officials said. Los Angeles Times


New charges for Knight: Former rap impresario Marion "Suge" Knight faces a new criminal charge accusing him of threatening to harm the director of the hit movie "Straight Outta Compton." Los Angeles Times

Hacker hero arrested: Marcus Hutchins, 22, who works for the Los Angeles security firm Kryptos Logic, was praised in May for his role in slowing the spread of ransomware called WannaCry that was locking files on computers around the world. Now he's been indicted in connection with allegedly developing software that has stolen banking credentials from an untold number of people. Los Angeles Times

Fun times: Scott Kennedy says he only wanted to be loved, but the FBI says the onetime financial executive of a suburban Chicago drug device company gave a professional escort access to his company credit card. Less than a year and a half later, the two had run up unauthorized charges of nearly $5.8 million, some of it in San Diego, according to the FBI. San Diego Union-Tribune



Soggy season: Southern California saw more thunderstorms and muggy weather Thursday — the final day of a storm system that the National Weather Service said has already caused 2,100 lightning strikes and prompted numerous flash flood warnings. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Widespread flooding in Acton forces the rescue of Metrolink passengers. Los Angeles Times


Tchaikovsky diplomacy: An instance of international cooperation at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday night meant that Russian relations don't have to evoke only mistrust, sanctions and reprisals. Los Angeles Times

A store closes: Continental Art Supplies, which for 57 years has sold brushes, paints, canvases, pencils, pens, airbrushes, decorative paper and much more to Valley residents, is closing. Los Angeles Daily News

What's cooking: Check out these awesome photos of the underground chefs of South Los Angeles. California Sunday Magazine

Get ready, San Francisco: "Julie Mehretu, a MacArthur Foundation 'genius,' is executing a monumental new commission for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art." New York Times


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


Today's California memory comes from Marilyn Heyler Hettick:

"My father, William F. Heyler, opened his real estate business at Pico and Manning in 1927. He was the first mayor of Rancho Park and was instrumental in developing the Rancho Park Golf Course. He frequently took me to ride ponies in the bean fields between Overland and Westwood, which would later be developed as the Westside Shopping Plaza. We used to buy 19-cent hamburgers at the corner of Pico and Westwood, which now houses the Landmark Theater. Alan Baker was the founding owner of the Apple Pan, and he served the very first Steakburger to me in 1946, because my father had sold the property to Mr. Baker. Times have drastically changed in Rancho Park, but the Apple Pan still thrives with the same food and original U-shaped counter."

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.