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Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Eli Broad dies

Eli Broad sits in a chair in front of an artwork
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad, photographed in front of Sean Scully’s painting “Conversation, 1986,” in the Broad Foundation offices, in Los Angeles in February 2009.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 1.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Eli Broad dies. Broad, who died Friday at 87, made his billions building homes, then used that wealth and the world-class modern art collection it helped him assemble to shape his adopted city. He often set the agenda for what was to come — from Walt Disney Concert Hall to the Museum of Contemporary Art to his namesake museum. He had a love-hate relationship with art museums, and he was one of L.A.'s most important, and most difficult, architectural patrons. In 2019, The Times published Broad’s own look back at how L.A.'s most important arts hub helped make the city an international cultural capital.

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The recall election is on. After Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged in March that a Republican-led effort to trigger a recall election against him would qualify for the ballot, state officials said Monday that the drive had indeed collected enough voter signatures to trigger one this year. Barring intervention by the courts, Newsom will face a statewide vote of confidence by year’s end, but the exact date isn’t clear. So, where did all those signatures come from? Our data team breaks it down.

Pandemic progress, to a point. L.A. County now has one foot in the yellow tier of the state’s reopening plan, a momentous achievement for a region ravaged by COVID-19 just months ago. But the county’s first-dose vaccine appointments have dropped by half, to public health officials’ alarm, as demand and vaccination rates fall sharply. That has made it suddenly very easy to get a vaccine, as many sites stop requiring appointments — and led to plans to close the Dodger Stadium vaccine site.

California police deaths. In a case drawing comparisons to that of George Floyd, outrage is growing over the death of Mario Gonzalez after an Alameda officer put a knee on his back for more than four minutes in an encounter captured on body-camera video. In San Diego, months before Floyd’s killing, Angel Zapata Hernandez died while handcuffed with a knee to his neck.

Disneyland is back. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure opened their gates to guests Friday after an unprecedented 13-month closure, to the relief of workers who see in it a return to normality. While many fans will no doubt head straight for a favorite attraction, Disneyland is more than a collection of rides. Here are a few ways to rethink how we relate to the park.

Building the Kristin Smart case. When Paul Flores was charged this month with Kristin Smart’s murder nearly 24 years ago, prosecutors and police said the years that Flores spent in Southern California had bolstered their long-held suspicions that he had killed Smart and helped them build a case against him.

Corporate charity or worse? Corporations made record charity contributions on Newsom’s behalf in 2020, bolstering the state’s pandemic response — but critics say that by asking companies to make them, politicians have created the appearance of a pay-to-play system. The Times dug into where the money went, and how the little-known practice let a $1-million donation stay hidden in plain sight.

Drive-by shooting rampage. After a series of five drive-by shootings that killed two people in Los Angeles early Tuesday, the suspected gunman died in a shootout with police on an Orange County freeway following a three-hour pursuit, authorities said.

California emissions standards. California’s ambition to retake the lead on climate change policy in the United States received a major boost as the Biden administration moved toward allowing the state to once more set its own car pollution standards, a right revoked under former President Trump.

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Remote from the resort. Housing markets are hot nationwide, but few areas have seen the surge in home prices and residents as outdoor vacation destinations such as Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs. White-collar workers with the money and newfound freedom to work from anywhere have headed to the wonderlands where they used to spend only their weekends.

A search for answers. Court filings, text messages, law enforcement records and interviews provide a fuller picture of events leading up to Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death.

Lady Gaga dog saga arrests. Prosecutors and police announced the arrests and criminal charges of five people in connection with the nearly fatal shooting of Lady Gaga’s dogwalker in February and brazen robbery of her dogs.

Oscar who? The Academy Awards had historic winners, cinematic flair, a controversial venue and Glenn Close busting a move to “Da Butt.” What the event didn’t have were viewers: ABC’s telecast hit an all-time low with an average of 9.85 million viewers watching on Sunday, a drop of 58% from last year, according to early numbers out Monday from Nielsen.

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Scott who? Another thing missing from the more than three-hour Oscars ceremony was any mention of allegations of abusive and bullying behavior by producer Scott Rudin. The overall muted response from Hollywood is raising the question of whether long-term consequences will result.

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1. L.A.'s Park to Playa Trail: After 20 years you can now hike from Crenshaw to the beach. LAist

2. The most amazing park expansion you’ve never heard about. Red Canary Collective

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3. “Mourning What We Thought We Were” by Frank Bidart. Read Good Poetry

4. How a first date may have led to a murder, a cover-up and a huge wildfire that killed 2. Los Angeles Times

5. SDSU lecturer’s portrayal of racial stereotype adds to debate over academic free speech. Los Angeles Times

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

On the private grief of George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross: As she contends with the overwhelming loss of her partner, Ross has also sought to make sense of her role as a white woman in the struggle for racial justice. Washington Post

“I couldn’t review the movie myself, but I could send him every glowing notice I read.” A lovely essay from Times critic Justin Chang about a surreal awards season, his decade-long relationship with “Minari” writer-director Lee Isaac Chung and temporarily removing his “critic’s hat” to cheer on a friend. Los Angeles Times

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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