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California has more billionaires than any other state, report says

A close-up of a pile of cash
California has more billionaires than any state in the U.S., Forbes reports.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, April 27. I’m Justin Ray.

The Golden State is generating a lot of green for a select group of individuals.

This month, Forbes reported that California has more billionaires than any other state in the U.S. — 186, to be exact. At the top of the outlet’s list of the state’s wealthiest are Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They are followed by co-founder and CEO of Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) Mark Zuckerberg, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Nvidia Chief Executive Jensen Huang.

Why does the Golden State have so many wealthy people? Forbes reported that half of California’s billionaires obtained their fortune through the tech industry. That also means that many of those dollars are in the Bay Area, which is where 116 of the billionaires live.

In total, the U.S. has 735 billionaires. A decade ago, Forbes counted 424 billionaires in America, the New York Times pointed out. And a decade before that, 243.

But, as Forbes reports, our state has a special place in America’s burgeoning plutocracy. In fact, at the top of the global list is Elon Musk — the man I wrote about yesterday — who generated much of his initial fortune in California. Musk’s immense wealth has allowed him to reach a deal to purchase Twitter — and possibly to reshape the platform according to his desires.

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As the state generates an astronomical amount of wealth to these select (mostly) men, it is worth Californians questioning if we are fine with the way we are generating wealthy people. After all, with wealth comes power. And of course, as California goes, so goes the nation.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that his department was targeting Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian in a criminal leak investigation for her reporting on the department’s cover-up of an incident in which a deputy kneeled on the head of a handcuffed inmate for three minutes. But after a barrage of criticism he backed off his announcement and denied that he considered the reporter a suspect. “His attempt to criminalize news reporting goes against well-established constitutional law,” Kevin Merida, executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend Tchekmedyian’s and the Los Angeles Times’ rights in any proceeding or investigation brought by authorities.” The Times published a report last month that described how Sheriff’s Department officials worked to cover up the March 2021 incident because they feared it would paint the department in a “negative light.” This letter was sent to Villanueva on Tuesday by The Times’ general counsel in response. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks at a news conference
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, shown at a news conference last year, said his department was investigating a Times reporter who revealed a jail cover-up.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

L.A. STORIES

Southern California water officials took the unprecedented step Tuesday of declaring a water shortage emergency and restricting outdoor watering to just one day a week in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties — an action that will affect about 6 million people. The outdoor watering restrictions will take effect June 1, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and apply to areas that are dependent on water from the drought-ravaged State Water Project. Los Angeles Times

A reservoir with low water levels
Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County, the major drinking water storage facility for 18 million Southern Californians.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Will a Hidden Hills socialite face a murder trial for running over two young brothers? Nancy Iskander was crossing the street with her children when she heard the roar of engines. Two SUVs were barreling toward the crosswalk. Iskander put up her right hand in a desperate effort to stop the vehicles hurtling toward her family, grabbed her 5-year-old and dove to safety. But the next time she saw her two older boys, they were near lifeless, she said at a preliminary hearing in the murder case against Rebecca Grossman, a Hidden Hills socialite. Los Angeles Times

Two women embrace outside a courthouse.
Nancy Iskander, second from right, is consoled by a friend outside a Van Nuys courthouse on Monday.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

San Diego’s controversial two-year experiment with “slow streets” suffered another setback when Pacific Beach leaders demanded major changes to the only slow street segment that had been popular enough to survive. A slow street is a segment of road where car traffic is partly banned to encourage biking and walking. San Diego Union-Tribune

Column: Is Dianne Feinstein facing pressure to quit the Senate because she’s a woman? No, she is not. Even though Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley is only three months younger than California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, he has not faced intense calls to resign. Is Feinstein facing a double standard because of her gender? No, she is not. Columnist Mark Z. Barabak explains why. Los Angeles Times

CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING

Trevor Bauer alleges in a lawsuit against the San Diego woman who accused him of sexual assault that she set up Bauer, lied about it repeatedly and provided “altered and filtered” photographs to the court and the media. The attorneys who most recently represented the woman in court have said in legal filings that they no longer represent her. Los Angeles Times

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Stockton students construct 108 air purifiers to be distributed at an Earth Day event. Earlier this month, students at Stockton’s Edison High School crafted the air purifiers with help from UC Berkeley engineering students. The project was funded by Assembly Bill 617, a law passed in 2017 meant to lessen the inequality of air pollution in cities across the state. KXTV Channel 10

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

A fictional life is uncovered. Times reporter Paula Mejía appeared on a podcast called “Cheat” to discuss a writing professor she once had named H.G. Carrillo. However, she found out after his passing that the instructor had lied about his past, making her question the lessons she learned from him. This episode explains how the deception was discovered and what lessons we can learn from the fiasco. Apple Podcasts

Tuition at the University of California’s campuses will be free for California residents who are from federally recognized Native American tribes. “The University of California is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Native Americans,” reads a letter from UC President Michael Drake to UC chancellors. Sacramento Bee

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: Overcast, 73 San Diego: Overcast, 64 San Francisco: Cloudy, 60 San Jose: Cloudy, 69 Fresno: Sunny, 82 Sacramento: Overcast, 77

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Karen Price:

My dad grew up in rural Montana and Oregon. On one of his first trips through the Central Valley of California, he ordered a meal in a small restaurant. As part of his meal, the waitress brought an artichoke to the table. Unwilling to admit he didn’t know what this “thing” was, he proceeded to pull off an entire leaf and pop it into his mouth. After chewing for a considerable time, he spit it out and called the waitress back to his table. He told her to take it to the kitchen because the cook forgot to cook it!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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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