Newsletter: Essential California Week: LAPD serves search warrants in City Hall leak investigation

Protesters disrupting the Los Angeles City Council meeting are escorted out
Protesters are escorted from the City Council Chamber by LAPD officers on Nov. 1.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

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

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

LAPD serves search warrants in City Hall leak. Detectives served several search warrants as they attempt to find out who recorded a meeting among three L.A. City Council members and a powerful labor leader filled with racist and offensive comments, law enforcement sources said.

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UC reaches tentative deal in labor dispute as strike continues. The University of California and its postdoctoral scholars and researchers reached a pay agreement Tuesday — but they remained off campus in solidarity with graduate student employees still on strike.

Danny Masterson’s rape trial ended in a mistrial. In failing to reach a decision, the panel left unresolved the women’s claims that the actor, who is best known for his role on the sitcom “That ‘70s Show,” violently assaulted them at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s.


Biden gives PG&E $1 billion to keep Diablo Canyon open. California’s last nuclear plant is currently scheduled to shut down in two phases, but some say the reactors are badly needed to help the Golden State grapple with power shortages and worsening heat waves.

“Catfishing” cop pretended to be 17, “groomed” a California girl before killing her family, then himself. Police said it is still under investigation how long the digital relationship between Austin Lee Edwards and the 15-year-old Riverside girl transpired and what platform they used to meet or communicate, but investigators believe many of those typical exploitative strategies for “sextortion” were used in this case.

RSV is straining children’s hospitals across California. Nationally, hospitalization rates related to RSV — or respiratory syncytial virus — are exceptionally high and California hospitals report being stressed. And while we’re at it: stop touching your face.

Black and Latino residents seek reparations from Palm Springs. The city apologized for the Section 14 razing and fires in the 1950s and 60s, but survivors and their descendants say they need more to address what a state official called a “city-engineered holocaust.”

Nearly 20% of water agencies could see shortages. Most of California’s urban water agencies believe they have enough supplies to last through another seven months of drought, but nearly a fifth say they could face shortages requiring increased conservation.

Mayor-elect Bass invites Mayor Eric Garcetti’s staff to stay on through April. Incoming mayors regularly retain some staff from the previous administration, even as they appoint new deputy mayors and consider which general managers to keep around. But extending a blanket offer is unusual.

Turning an iconic L.A. landmark into homeless housing. After years of stagnation and hand-wringing over what should become of Los Angeles County General Hospital, the 100-year-old Art Deco monolith that towers over Boyle Heights, answers are beginning to take shape. Los Angeles County has launched a multi-year program to reconfigure the H-shaped building into homeless and affordable housing.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Inside months of chaos at L.A. County’s juvenile halls. Dozens of officers are either on long-term leave or refusing to come to work, creating a staffing crisis that has led to increased violence in the halls and fostered an atmosphere many say is unsafe for the youths the county is tasked with caring for.

Secret backyard shows keep L.A.’s underground comedy scene thriving. No matter how cobbled together the entire operation might be, some of the very best comedy shows in L.A., for more than two decades, have happened in a backyard, living room, garage, grotto or warehouse, like raves and punk gigs.

Jewish communities thrived in early L.A. — and helped the city thrive. “There are more (nationality/ethnic group) living in Los Angeles than anywhere else on the planet except (that nation’s capital and/or chief population center).” In the case of the world’s Jews, Los Angeles is in third place, behind only New York and Israel.

What do L.A.’s super-rich car owners do for a living? TikTok star Daniel Macdonald’s quest to find that answer. Macdonald, who goes by Daniel Mac, spotlights unknown people who are fabulously wealthy, or who just spend like they are. But he’s also snagged CEOs, race car drivers and celebrities including Wiz Khalifa, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jay Leno and Shaquille O’Neal (who answered, “I sleep with your mom — and your father.”).


L.A. Times columnist Frank Shyong, on a recent trip to Seoul, found himself in a Randy’s. Sometimes you leave Los Angeles only to find that it has arrived at your destination long before you, Shyong writes. The blocky brown font spelling out “Randy’s” in all capitals was unmistakable. Plus, a giant doughnut — though scaled down to fit in a storefront window.

A thrilling new museum exhibition shows how L.A. artist Alexis Smith upended taboos. When Smith began to make art as the 1970s launched, two taboos apparently proved irresistible. One prohibition was against embedding literary qualities in art. Writing was writing, art was art, and never the twain should meet. The second was that painting and sculpture held firm at the top of the heap. Then there was the rest.

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