Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: A new era on the horizon as California reopens

Newsom juggles numbered balls in front of a sign that says "Vax for the Win"
Gov. Gavin Newsom juggles numbered balls used in a lottery-style giveaway to vaccine recipients after the end of a news conference celebrating California’s full reopening Tuesday.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 19.

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

A new era? For more than a year, Californians lived lives defined by limitations. On Tuesday, the state entered a new era as it lifted most restrictions on businesses and mask mandates for vaccinated people. The change was met with joy, sorrow and even some worry about what could still go wrong.

— It’s not the first time California has tried to reopen its economy during the pandemic. But officials have reason to hope it will last.

— As Gov. Gavin Newsom marked the end of most COVID-19 restrictions, he’s also doing his best to shut the book on the recall months before the election.

— Californians embraced their new freedom with baseball games, events and more. But a return to normal life also means a return to traffic.

Juneteenth becomes a federal holiday. Biden has signed legislation into law to make June 19 — or Juneteenth — the 12th federal holiday, and one many American communities are just beginning to celebrate. It commemorates the day Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect.

— Juneteenth has long been a reason to celebrate and remember for many Black Angelenos. But many Americans refuse to talk honestly about Juneteenth, writes columnist LZ Granderson.

— After a pandemic that stifled traditions, Angelenos will celebrate this year with local arts and culture events, virtual or in person, across Southern California.

— There are also real-life events to choose from, from remembrances of an early civil rights activist to community parades and rallies to celebrations involving music, food and drink.


— Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced the formation of an advisory commission that would develop and advocate for a pilot reparations program for some Black Angelenos.

Sponsored policing? In a bid to bolster its claims as a crime-fighting tool, Ring gave at least 100 LAPD officers one or more free cameras or discount codes. Some of those officers then promoted the product to colleagues and the communities they police.

New vaccine highs. California administered its 40 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccines this week and unveiled a new system for digital vaccination records. (Here’s what you need to know.) But as the focus moves to shots for children, some medical experts are raising questions about the state’s approach.

A long recovery. California has added jobs at a torrid rate this year, but its economy has a long way to go to recover from the pandemic. Unemployment is still high, and California’s borrowing to pay jobless benefits will hit $26.7 billion by the end of next year, a new report warns.

Weinstein extradited. Harvey Weinstein will soon stand trial in California on charges that he sexually assaulted five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, a New York judge ruled.

Garcetti aide Facebook posts. Garcetti chief of staff Ana Guerrero posted sexual innuendo and disparaging comments about city employees and politicians in a private Facebook group, according to posts reviewed by The Times. On Friday, Garcetti defended her and said he was satisfied with her apology.

Green for green. The California Legislature approved a $100-million plan to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market.

A losing fight. The political career of Tito Ortiz in Huntington Beach was short and flashy. His approach to public office shows what’s wrong with today’s politics.

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1. A mother and daughter ‘kidnapped.’ A husband’s bizarre story. A baffling Irvine mystery. Los Angeles Times

2. FBI raids home of L.A.-based actor who entered Capitol Jan. 6 with right-wing protesters. Los Angeles Times

3. Column: A dying girl, a fateful blessing and the lessons of California’s tragic origin myth. Los Angeles Times

4. Investigators hopeful new technology will help catch bank robbers who executed a Camarillo mother, Monica Leech, in 1997. CBS

5. Photos capture California as the state fully reopens. Los Angeles Times

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

A dying girl and a fateful blessing. La Cristianita was celebrated as a foundational moment and a metaphor for the myth that Europeans transformed this land from wilderness into Eden. The real story is messier — and has a deeper lesson, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano.

Inside Hollywood’s Latino culture gap. For our collection of stories on Hollywood’s Latino culture gap, The Times spoke with actors, writers, directors and executives about the state of Latino representation on-screen and their hopes for the future.

“Toxic” Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Two members of the group that votes on the Golden Globe Awards resigned in protest. The duo’s departure comes at a critical time for the embattled organization that has vowed to enact sweeping changes following a Times investigation that brought to light allegations of financial and ethical improprieties and pointed out that not one of its 85 members was Black.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey and Daric L. Cottingham. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to