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Essential California: Hundreds of Inland Empire buildings could face collapse in a huge earthquake

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 10. Here's what you don't want to miss this weekend:

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Quake risk: As many as 640 buildings in more than a dozen Inland Empire cities including Riverside, Pomona and San Bernardino have been marked as dangerous — but remain unretrofitted despite decades of warning, according to a Times analysis of the latest building and safety records. These cities are far behind coastal regions of California, which have retrofitted thousands of buildings after devastating earthquakes exposed how deadly they can be. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Why old brick buildings can collapse. Los Angeles Times

Trash deal raises questions

When Inglewood's City Council approved a $100-million waste-collection contract in 2012, the job went not to the low bidder but to another company with higher fees — and a link to Mayor James Butts Jr. Consolidated Disposal Services landed the 10-year contract that June, about three months after it hired the mayor's brother, Michael Butts, as a $72,000-a-year operations manager. The timing was no coincidence, according to a previously undisclosed complaint filed that year with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. The complaint alleged that "as a condition for his support," the mayor asked bidders to hire his unemployed brother. Mayor Butts denied asking any of the bidders to hire his brother and abstained from the final vote on the contract. Los Angeles Times

Another court ruling

A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that police departments violate the Constitution if they detain inmates at the request of immigration agents, marking the latest legal setback for the Trump administration's plans to identify and deport immigrants in the country illegally. Los Angeles Times

AROUND CALIFORNIA

Taking leave: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on Friday denied accusations of sexual misconduct but said she would voluntarily take unpaid leave while an investigation takes place. Los Angeles Times

Cartel leader arrested: Mexican authorities have arrested the alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel — long one of the country's most powerful and notoriously brutal criminal groups. Los Angeles Times

Wild story: Anti-fascist activists in Sacramento say court documents show California Highway Patrol officers "investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with 'anti-racist' beliefs." The Guardian

World Cup bid in trouble: Los Angeles' bid to be one of the hosts for the 2026 World Cup is in doubt as officials on Thursday gave contradicting statements about whether the city would pursue a piece of the international event. Los Angeles Times

The flu! California health officials said Friday that 36 Californians under the age of 65 died of the flu in the first week of February — more than in any other week this season. Los Angeles Times

New content chief at Amazon: "NBC Entertainment executive Jennifer Salke was named the new head of Amazon Studios on Friday, ending a nearly four-month search that began when Roy Price was ousted after a sexual harassment allegation." New York Times

THIS WEEK'S MOST POPULAR STORIES IN ESSENTIAL CALIFORNIA

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1. Battling treacherous office chairs and aching backs, aging cops and firefighters miss years of work and collect twice the pay. Los Angeles Times

2. Jill Messick's family issues a blistering statement on Harvey Weinstein and Rose McGowan. The Hollywood Reporter

3. If you get the "Asian glow," alcohol could be worse for your body. Huffington Post

4. Detectives are running out of time in the Natalie Wood mystery. Los Angeles Times

5. Trump wants a border wall. This shows you what's already in place. The New York Times

ICYMI, HERE ARE THIS WEEK'S GREAT READS

Changes are made: Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials will no longer use "voluntary" in their evacuation alerts after concerns that the warnings they pushed out before devastating mudslides ravaged Montecito last month were ineffective in getting people to leave. Los Angeles Times

Wow: Groups of Disney superfans like to roam Disneyland in packs, called social clubs, wearing matching vests. But a lawsuit contends that some clubs are acting more like gangs. The suit blames Disneyland for not acting on the problem. Los Angeles Times

Healthcare marches forward: California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon may have expected to torpedo the idea of a statewide single-payer healthcare system for the long term last June, when he blocked a Senate bill on the issue from even receiving a hearing in his house. He was wrong, of course. Los Angeles Times

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Quincy Jones says a lot: In this interview, the music legend dishes about his long career, on the secret Michael Jackson, his relationship with the Trumps, and the problem with modern pop. Vulture

Checking in on Feinstein: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein seemed under siege within her own party last fall, with fellow California congressional Democrats openly speculating about possible primary challengers and progressives railing against her brand of centrism. But with the state's 'top two' primary just four months away, few are talking about her vulnerability anymore." Politico

On the bookshelf: "In Thomas Perry's 'The Bomb Maker,' the eponymous villain is on a one-man crime spree in Southern California — intent on annihilating every member of the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad." Wall Street Journal

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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