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Essential California: Can Antonio Villaraigosa become California's next governor?

Essential California: Can Antonio Villaraigosa become California's next governor?
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who announced his candidacy for governor of California, speaks with Cabrera Farms owner Ricky Cabrera at his strawberry field in Salinas. (David Butow / For The Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Wednesday, Sept. 13, and here's what's happening across California:



Back on the trail

Four years after his mayoralty came to an end, Antonio Villaraigosa is no longer the scrappy upstart whose rise to power symbolized Latinos' growing clout in California. Instead, at 64, he stands out as the oldest of the top contenders for governor in the June 2018 primary. He is painfully aware that Californians might deny him what he craves: one more act in public life. "Maybe it passed me up," he conceded to guests at a July reception in Stockton. "Maybe I'm yesterday's news. Maybe I'm just a guy who was starting out 20-some-odd years ago, broke glass ceilings — but maybe my time is over." Los Angeles Times

The bigger Apple

With fanfare befitting the biggest company on Earth, Apple unveiled the two latest iPhones on Tuesday at an event at the company's new headquarters. With the announcement of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, Apple has created a tiered system: two phones, equally new, one of which is undoubtedly more powerful than earlier models, and another even more powerful than that. It's a strategy that may confuse some customers, but one that makes sense for a company reliant on its flagship gadget to generate revenue, analysts and business experts said. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The iPhone X's facial recognition technology, which allows you to unlock the phone and make purchases just by looking at it, is already raising privacy concerns. Los Angeles Times

Video: Ten years in, all the things the iPhone destroyed. New York Times

The director's dilemma

Film has long been considered a director's medium, with cinematic auteurs presiding over movie sets like gods, their vision supreme, their word law. But with a number of high-profile filmmakers being replaced on big-budget films, some say film is now a board-of-directors' medium, especially when it comes to franchise pictures. This new reality was underscored last week when Colin Trevorrow was suddenly dropped as director of "Star Wars: Episode IX" because of creative differences. Lucasfilm announced Tuesday that J.J. Abrams, who helmed "The Force Awakens," would take over directing duties. Los Angeles Times

City Hall confidential

Want an example of how hard it is to fight City Hall? Talk to the residents of the Beachwood Drive area who raised tens of thousands of dollars to fix a dangerous intersection but can't get the city to take action. The city asked for a $25,000 permit fee. "We said, 'You've got to be kidding. This can't be true,'" one resident said. Los Angeles Times


Homicides drop: L.A. saw a total of 59 homicides in June, July and August, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said — far lower than the number of killings typical for the three-month period. Other than 2014, when the city also recorded 59 homicides, it was the fewest killings in a single summer since 1966. Los Angeles Times

They did it! It wasn't particularly pretty, but the Dodgers ended their long losing streak and clinched a playoff spot with a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles Times

Defending DACA: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved several motions Tuesday aimed at countering the Trump administration's decision last week to end an Obama-era program that granted young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children a temporary reprieve from deportation. Los Angeles Times


Milestone: The Los Angeles Unified School District appears to have once again broken a record, reporting a preliminary graduation rate of 80.2% for the class of 2017. Los Angeles Times

What a concept: The new Nordstroms in West Hollywood will be different — there won't be any merchandise. Los Angeles Times


Bannon to Berkeley: Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is scheduled to come to UC Berkeley later this month as part of a four-day event organized by his former Breitbart employee and conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos. Los Angeles Times

But wait, there's more: Cap-and-trade funding for electric car rebates in California could come with new strings attached, part of a last-minute proposal intended to help unions. If passed by lawmakers, the legislation would require state regulators to certify that automakers are "fair and responsible in the treatment of their workers" before vehicles can be eligible for the rebates. The change would take effect next summer. Los Angeles Times

Pot update: San Diego will have a fully legal and regulated marijuana industry, including pot farms, factories making edibles and retail storefronts selling the drug to both medical and recreational customers. San Diego Union-Tribune

In case you wondered: California's Bureau of Cannabis Control last week outlined its plans to ban pot delivery by drone, putting the kibosh on any business hoping to make a buck on the concept. Los Angeles Times


Departing: The Metropolitan Water District's embattled ethics watchdog announced her resignation Tuesday amid an internal struggle over her office and its investigations. Los Angeles Times


Shooting in West Valinda: A man was shot to death by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in West Valinda in the San Gabriel Valley on Monday night after he fired at officers with an airsoft gun, officials said. Los Angeles Times

Sentence handed down: A Long Beach man who fatally slashed his stepdaughter's neck in what prosecutors have said was an attempt to cover up months of sexual abuse was sentenced Monday to 41 years to life in state prison. Los Angeles Times


Big Sur update: Travelers still hoping to drive on scenic but sidelined Highway 1 from L.A. to San Francisco will have to wait. Fixing the biggest debris slide in the state's history, which closed the road to all traffic for almost four months, will take at least until late summer of 2018 and cost $40 million, Caltrans said in a statement Monday. Los Angeles Times


Hollywood silence: From major talent agencies to massive entertainment conglomerates, most top executives have been strikingly quiet on President Trump's decision to phase out DACA. Variety

Cute! A tiger cub confiscated at the Otay Mesa border crossing last month and currently living at the Safari Park in Escondido has a new playmate — a cub flown Monday from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Los Angeles Times

Food vendor update: Two sidewalk food vendors — one whose cart was knocked over by an angry man in Hollywood and another whose bacon hot dog profits were confiscated by a UC Berkeley bicycle officer — are enjoying a groundswell of public support after their misfortunes were captured on video. Los Angeles Times

Those were the days: UC Berkeley is famous for its student protests during the Vietnam War era, but students protested all over the Bay Area. Gil Villagran was one of a handful of demonstrators who paid a price for putting San Jose State in the national headlines. Does he regret it in hindsight? Not one bit. KQED


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 77, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 74, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 74, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 73, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 70, Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 82, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 80, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Larry Mayer:

"Our family had lived in Northern California for less than three months when the 5.7 Daly City earthquake struck the Bay Area [in 1957]. California was a new world to me, a third-grader transplanted from rural Minneapolis to a tract home located only a few miles from the quake's epicenter. California was very different from the upper Midwest. Instead of blizzards and sub-zero temperatures, there were earthquakes.

"When the ground started shaking under my desk that day at Lomita Park Elementary School in San Bruno, I was confused and very frightened. The temblor struck just before noon, and we were mercifully dismissed early for lunch. What a commotion there was on the playground! Everybody was too excited to eat their lunches, everyone talking at once, animatedly describing in their own words what happened. By the end of lunch period a common bond was felt among the student body for having lived through something unique. It was my California baptism. Fortunately, everybody came through safe and sound, but not without new knowledge of the awesome force waiting beneath our feet."

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.