Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Is a business backlash coming?

The moon rises over a cargo ship off the coast of Long Beach
The moon rises over container ships anchored off the coast of Long Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Oct. 23.

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

Will businesses push back? As cities up and down the state move to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, a San Francisco In-N-Out burger restaurant was forced to temporarily close after failing to comply. The issue isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

‘Stinky City.’ For nearly two weeks, an overpowering foul smell — likened to rotten eggs, a dead body and poop — has been wafting over Carson. Efforts to combat the odor have been hampered by low supplies of a biodegradable neutralizer, and officials say the odor may linger.

Prop gun accident. Actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a New Mexico movie set that killed the director of photography and injured the director. Baldwin says he is cooperating with police.

Indictment leads to suspension. The Los Angeles City Council voted 11 to 3 on Wednesday to immediately suspend Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted on federal bribery, conspiracy and other charges. Earlier in the week, he said he would “step back” but not resign.

California gets drier. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency on Tuesday, appealing to all Californians to do more to conserve water in the face of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record.

Wet weather ahead? After suffering through a devastating summer of wildfires, Californians may catch a break this month as a series of expected storms could effectively end the fire season in the northern and central parts of the state, experts say. It could also bring flooding.

COVID-era learning challenges. A first-of-its-kind Los Angeles Times analysis of data offers a particularly alarming assessment of the pandemic’s effect on L.A. students, showing steep drops in assessment scores in key areas of learning.

Strike averted. The union representing Hollywood crews reached an agreement over the weekend on a new contract with the major studios, avoiding a historic strike that would have disrupted film and TV production nationwide.

Netflix employees walk out. Transgender Netflix employees and their allies gathered Wednesday morning on Vine Street in Los Angeles to protest the streaming giant’s decision to release Dave Chappelle’s controversial new comedy special.


Deadly sea crossings. Migrants are making increasingly dangerous journeys to enter California through the coast. Sea crossings are still substantially fewer than those on land, but experts say the shift is amplifying the danger these migrants face.

Compete with Disney? For 55 years, the Los Angeles Zoo has been a venerable but decidedly low-key attraction nestled amid the hills of Griffith Park. But officials are considering a controversial transformation, raising the ire of some environmentalists.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Another supply chain consequence. Some 300,000 migrant merchant sailors have been stranded on vessels at sea or in ports around the world. Labor unions and charity groups describe exhaustion, despair, suicide and violence at sea, including at least one alleged murder on a cargo ship headed to Los Angeles.

The misery of tax filing. California tried to save the nation with a test run of a “return free” tax system — then Intuit stepped in. Tax software firms faced an existential threat, and over the next decade and a half, they worked relentlessly — and successfully — to stymie the California project and prevent others like it.

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