Essential California: Impeachment, the sequel

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco displays the signed article of impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi displays the signed article of impeachment against President Trump before sending it to the Senate for trial.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Jan. 14, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to charge him with inciting insurrection by his supporters, who stormed the Capitol to block ratification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

[Read the story: “House impeaches Trump for the second time, focus shifts to Senate trial” in the Los Angeles Times]

The siege, which left five dead, was the most violent assault on the U.S. Capitol since the British burned it in the War of 1812.


The blazingly fast impeachment effort began exactly one week before the vote, as violent Trump supporters besieged the House and Senate floors. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) was still sheltering from the chaos in a Capitol office when he fired off a text message to every Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee “should start drafting articles of impeachment now, regardless of what leadership says,” he wrote in the 3:09 p.m. message. As my D.C. colleagues Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire report, Lieu didn’t need to worry about leadership opposing his effort.

Along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Lieu is one of several Californians who played a key role in the impeachment. East Bay Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell will join Lieu as one of the nine House impeachment managers. And Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), who was sworn in Tuesday, made headlines as the only California Republican to vote in favor of impeachment. Valadao was one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump.

“Based on the facts before me, I have to go with my gut and vote my conscience. I voted to impeach President Trump,” Valadao said. The Central Valley representative was ousted from Congress by Democratic challenger T.J. Cox in a close 2018 race, but he won back his seat by a narrow margin last November.

The charge against Trump now goes to the Senate, where a trial will not be held until after Trump leaves office on Jan. 20. A post-presidency conviction would be too late to cut short his term in office, but it could be followed by a vote on a measure to bar Trump from running again for president.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


Californians 65 and older are now technically eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine. The Newsom administration announced a major expansion of California’s guidelines Wednesday, broadening the priority list. But the sudden addition of roughly 6 million people to an already strained distribution network could still leave many waiting weeks for inoculations.

Distribution will still be handled on the local level, with individual counties deciding whether they are currently able to offer the vaccine to seniors. In Los Angeles, public health officials said people 65 and older won’t have access to the vaccine until the county finishes vaccinating front-line workers. The county plans to vaccinate 500,000 more healthcare workers by the end of January, but currently does not have enough doses to meet that goal. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “How do I get my coronavirus vaccine if I’m 65 and older? Here is what we know” in the Los Angeles Times]

How California’s budget depends on a staggering wealth gap: If approved by lawmakers, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $227-billion state spending plan would spend an unprecedented amount to fend off poverty, eviction and K-12 education loss for California’s most vulnerable residents. Those safety net programs would be funded, in part, by unparalleled tax revenues from the soaring income growth and stock market gains that the richest Californians enjoyed this year. Cal Matters

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L.A. wants to impose tougher enforcement for mask violators: After local demonstrations by anti-mask groups at shopping malls, grocery stores and homeless encampments, the City Council has moved to bolster restrictions and subject more violators to financial penalties. Los Angeles Times

A man gets into a dispute with a woman who refused to wear a mask
A man gets into an altercation with a woman who refused to wear a mask during a gathering at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, where people participated in a “Let Us Worship” event on New Year’s Eve.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Like the city around it, the LAPD is being ravaged by the coronavirus: A 53-year-old Los Angeles police sergeant died Tuesday from complications related to COVID-19 — the second such death in a week for the department. Los Angeles Times

One coach’s view: It’s time to play ball. North Torrance baseball coach Joshua Lee offers a firsthand account of the issues players and coaches are facing without high school sports. Los Angeles Times

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The U.S. military and law enforcement are taking unprecedented measures to lock down the nation’s capital to prevent violence tied to Trump’s impeachment and President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court joins with Trump on restricting abortion pills, despite the coronavirus: A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday granted an appeal from Trump administration lawyers and restored an abortion rule that requires women who want medication to end an early pregnancy to travel to a hospital or clinic to pick up the pills, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Los Angeles Times



Ghost Ship warehouse founder to receive plea deal: Derrick Almena will be sentenced to nine years in state prison instead of facing a third trial on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, ending a years-long legal saga that followed the deaths of 36 people inside the Oakland arts collective. Los Angeles Times


How close is California to bending the coronavirus curve? Here’s a look at where we are in the coronavirus crisis and where we could be headed. Los Angeles Times


Bay Area consumers suffered through brutal increases in the cost of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables during 2020, according to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mercury News

Turning to Dungeons & Dragons to escape a real-life monster — COVID-19. The four decade-old tabletop role-playing game has found new acolytes during quarantine. Los Angeles Times

French Laundry chef Thomas Keller took down his Twitter account Tuesday after a year of growing backlash. Keller’s Napa restaurant is famous for its Michelin stars, along with its unlikely starring role in the “Recall Newsom” campaign. San Francisco Chronicle

A poem to to start your Thursday: “My Mama moved among the days” by Lucille Clifton.


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Los Angeles: sunny, 84. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: Karl the fog, 64. San Jose: sunny, 70. Fresno: partly sunny, 64. Sacramento: sunny, 63.


Today’s California memory comes from Larry Gilman:

I remember when it snowed in L.A. in January 1949. We got 13 inches one night in Altadena where I lived. It was very hard for anyone to get to work, and the schools were closed, so almost everyone played in the snow that day. I also remember when it snowed again several years later when I was in junior high. We only got about an inch of snow and I had to go to school. I was really looking forward to playing in the snow after school, but by then the snow had all melted. What a huge disappointment.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (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, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.