Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Newsom recall vote set for September

California voters will decide Sept. 14 whether to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 3.

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

Recall is on. Mark your calendars: Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis on Thursday set Sept. 14 as the date for the election targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom. The tight timetable gives prospective candidates just over two weeks to decide whether to run.

Firework explosion. An explosion Wednesday in South Los Angeles injured 17 people as a bomb squad attempted to detonate devices found in a seizure of illegal fireworks. The LAPD is promising a full investigation amid questions about its handling of the seizure.

An East L.A. woman has been charged with murder. Sandra Chico, 28, was taken into custody as a “person of interest” after deputies found her children unresponsive Monday afternoon in their home. It wasn’t immediately clear how they had died, police said. Chico has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held on $2-million bail, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ family is suing the Angels. The suit, which comes after his overdose death almost two years ago, names the team and two former employees, alleging that an Angels employee supplied drugs to multiple players. “The Angels owed Tyler Skaggs a duty to provide a safe place to work and play baseball,” the lawsuit, which was filed in L.A., said. The suit doesn’t seek a specific amount of damages.


Why was Bill Cosby set free? A legal principle brings anger and alarm from advocates of the #MeToo movement. Legal experts say it was based on an uncommon technicality.

Masks off, masks on. With the Delta variant spreading, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommended — but stopped short of requiring — that all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, though vaccines do offer some protection.

Lava fire swells to 13,300 acres. Crews are battling multiple wildfires across California, while much of the region remains mired in treacherous heat and bone-dry conditions. The largest is the lightning-sparked Lava fire in Siskiyou County, which has forced at least 8,000 residents to flee.

‘An epidemic of hate.’ A new report from the state attorney general found that anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled in California in 2020, underscoring fears among Asian Americans about being targeted during the pandemic.

A couple was fined for bulldozing and burying 36 Joshua trees. They removed the trees to make way for a home in the Morongo Basin and were fined $18,000, a steep price that the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office hopes will deter others from destroying the trees. The western Joshua tree is a candidate for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to cut down, damage or remove the sensitive desert tree without a permit while the species is under review.

L.A. has a new plan to restrict homeless camping. The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-3 to draft rules barring homeless people from camping near schools, parks, libraries and other sensitive facilities.

Editor’s note: This newsletter will be off Monday and Tuesday. We’ll be back in your inbox on Wednesday.

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1. A Warrior fallen: The life and death of onetime Hawaii football star Colt Brennan. Los Angeles Times

2. Viral Twitter video shows San Jose police officer barking at a protester, ‘Shut up, b —.’ Los Angeles Times

3. At least 5 shot, 1 dead in Hollywood Hills gunfight after botched robbery, police say. Los Angeles Times


4. Police take ‘wanted’ posters onto social media, nabbing suspects and ruining lives. Los Angeles Times

5. Have big Hollywood dreams? Read the L.A. Times guide to entertainment industry careers. Los Angeles Times

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

“Give Black people credit.” Tired of cultural appropriation, Black TikTok creators explain their strike and why they refuse to make a dance for Megan Thee Stallion’s latest song.

Trees give us life — and TikTok. Cell tower trees have become an indelible part of the L.A. landscape, sprouting beside freeways and other in-between spaces. The demand for calls that never drop and videos that always stream is fueling the growth of these structures, but it takes little more than a glancing look to sense that they don’t photosynthesize.

Twenty-four hours at sea with Gazan fishermen. With Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza restricting fishing to a zone of six miles from the coastline, Gazan fishermen work long hours for meager returns. We followed them on a 24-hour expedition.

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