Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Vaxxed and rich?


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 5.

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

Vaxxed and rich? Gov. Gavin Newsom helped award the first cash prizes in California’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery on Friday, amid criticism from political rivals as he faces a recall election. But he also said California’s COVID-19 state of emergency order will remain in place beyond June 15, despite its economic reopening.

Vaxxed and unmasked? As state officials reconsider mask guidelines for vaccinated workers, some hope the prospect could encourage reluctant people to seek out shots as disparities persist.

Assault-weapons ban overturned. A federal judge Friday overturned California’s three-decade-old ban, ruling it unconstitutional. Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta promised an appeal, calling the decision “fundamentally flawed.” The ban remains for now.

Another shooting. In the latest workplace shooting, an off-duty firefighter killed a fellow firefighter and wounded a captain in Agua Dulce on Tuesday before turning the gun on himself. Authorities say the violence stemmed from an ongoing dispute.

A “euphoric” rebound. California’s strict public health measures during the pandemic protected its economy, setting the stage for what’s expected to be an even faster recovery in the state than nationwide, UCLA economists said.

Asylum app. U.S. border officials have quietly taken the unprecedented step of deploying a new mobile app that uses controversial facial recognition technology to quickly process asylum seekers, alarming experts.

Lakers out, but Clippers? The Lakers’ season ended Thursday with a loss to the Phoenix Suns in the NBA playoffs after star Anthony Davis limped off the court early in Game 6. On Friday, the Clippers forced their playoff series into a Game 7, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 45 points.


Rethinking death penalties. Individual jurors decide whether certain circumstances increase the severity of a crime. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court heard arguments on a change to that practice, which could potentially overturn hundreds of death penalty sentences.

A historic first. A California task force met for the first time Tuesday with the ultimate goal of recommending reparations for descendants of enslaved people and those affected by slavery.

Armed and drunk. The LAPD lacks rules for off-duty officers who drink while carrying a weapon despite a series of problems, a Times investigation found. The absence is unusual when compared to other law enforcement agencies in the region and country.

What’s next for Huntington Beach? Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz abruptly resigned his position, saying he had faced public attacks on his character and feared for the safety of his family. His supporters saw him as the local government version of Donald Trump.

A new reign. Long Beach has taken back control of the Queen Mary from the ship’s operating company amid concerns that the 87-year-old vessel has not been properly maintained, the city announced Friday, vowing the preserve the ship.

F. Lee Bailey, 1933-2021. At one time the most famous trial attorney in the country, he was involved in the O.J. Simpson and Patty Hearst cases before facing his own legal troubles. He died Thursday at age 87.

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1. Teen fends off bear in Bradbury backyard by pushing it. ABC7

2. Biologists rescued the California condor from extinction. Then came a terrible new challenge. Smithsonian Magazine

3. Column: I was going to buy an all-electric car but chickened out. Los Angeles Times


4. This solar company wouldn’t let a dead woman out of her contract. Los Angeles Times

5. Why was the mob in L.A. so much quieter than in Chicago or New York? Los Angeles Times

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Is the loquat the lodestar of Southern California? It should be, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano: “The loquat is an immigrant originally from China but one that spread to many other communities that embraced the fruit as their own. There’s diversity within loquats,” he writes. “The trees that produce them are hardy — not needing much maintenance or water to fruit well but doing even better with care.”

“If you have any questions about how the plants and animals of Southern California’s deserts are faring as the Earth gets hotter and drier, Jim Cornett is a good bet to have the answers,” writes Steve Lopez. He accompanied Cornett on his efforts to document desert transformations, with a particular focus on the future of the mighty Joshua tree.

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