Newsletter: The state of California vs. Trump, again

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, in February 2019.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 14, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

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In an era of whiplash politics, California vs. Trump has become one of the most consistent political narratives of the past 2-1/2 years, as the state has filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the administration. Within the first year of Trump’s presidency, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra had made a name for himself in the so-called Democratic resistance with his prolific legal challenges on federal actions. The lawsuits have targeted federal policy on immigration, healthcare, education and the environment, to name just a short few of the items on the laundry list.

“This isn’t a cold war. It’s a scorching hot war. And that’s politically expedient for both sides,” as law professor Jessica Levinson said in April 2018.


By mid-2018, the state had filed 38 lawsuits against the federal government.

By 2019, California had sued the administration more times than Texas took President Obama to court during his eight years in office. In May, California filed its 50th lawsuit against the Trump administration (this one disputed a union dues policy).

And the multi-front legal battle goes both ways. As recently as last week, Trump and his 2020 reelection campaign filed a legal challenge against California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns or be kept off the ballot.

[See also: “In California vs. Trump, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases” in the Los Angeles Times]

On Tuesday, Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the latest in the onslaught of litigation: California and a coalition of 21 other states are suing to block the Trump administration’s attempt to gut restrictions on coal-burning power plants, limits that were central to Obama’s climate change policy.

That same day, the first lawsuits were filed against the administration’s new “public charge” rule, which could deny green cards to immigrants on public assistance. But the litigant in that case wasn’t the state of California — it was two Bay Area counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

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



After years of on-again, off-again merger talks, broadcast giant CBS Corp. and its corporate sibling Viacom Inc. finally agreed to reunite in a nearly $12-billion deal that will bring together such well-known brands as CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon and Showtime. CBS, which is the larger of the two companies and worth $18.5 billion, will absorb the smaller Viacom, which owns such assets as BET, Comedy Central and the Paramount Pictures movie studio in Hollywood. The new company will be called ViacomCBS Inc. Los Angeles Times

Nipsey Hussle’s star power radiated from a single point — the South L.A. strip mall where he centered his business ventures as his celebrity grew. But trouble that has long brewed at the strip mall has taken on larger dimensions since Hussle’s death. Los Angeles Times


The Los Angeles Opera said Tuesday will “engage outside counsel” to investigate the sexual harassment accusations against general director Plácido Domingo. Los Angeles Times

Super King is L.A.’s most beloved international supermarket — and its customers are fiercely loyal. Los Angeles Times

Scenes from inside Super King market in Glendale.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

A disco-era roller rink will pop up at Union Station for two days this month. Curbed LA

What “The Morning Show” trailer can teach us about Apple TV+. The teaser isn’t just a first look at the show itself. It also provides the first taste of Apple’s new slate since CEO Tim Cook and a cavalcade of stars unveiled Apple TV+ in March. Los Angeles Times

Wildlife Waystation, a famed exotic animal sanctuary in the L.A. foothills, is closing. Los Angeles Times

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A Bakersfield College student was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody after two NFL players helped pay his $50,000 bail. The student was arrested by ICE in May, two days after reading a poem that was critical of the agency at a public meeting. Bakersfield Californian


Someone painted a multi-story phallus on the building directly across from Sacramento City Hall. It has since been painted over. Sacramento Bee

Local policymakers are asking why Sonoma County has 40 public school districts and are exploring whether they can save money and improve students’ education by consolidating. Santa Rosa Press Democrat

How Californians moving to Nevada are changing the state’s politics. Mercury News



The accused Poway synagogue shooter didn’t have a valid hunting license when his gun was purchased. San Diego Union-Tribune


What would a powerful earthquake feel like where you live? Although scientists cannot predict when or where the next major earthquake will occur, the U.S. Geological Survey produces hundreds of earthquake scenarios to help us plan for the inevitable. Plug your address into this map to better understand what a shaking scenario could look like where you live. Los Angeles Times

This could be the hottest week of the year in Sacramento, with temperatures potentially reaching 105 degrees on Wednesday. Sacramento Bee

This popular Yosemite spot will be closed for construction in 2021. Fresno Bee



Plans to create a monument to author Charles Bukowski are afoot in San Pedro. Daily Breeze

Salesforce will be removing Hawaiian terminology from the company’s internal branding after employees raised concerns of cultural appropriation. Salesforce is San Francisco’s largest employer, and its workforce is known as the “Salesforce Ohana,” after the Hawaiian word for family. The Daily Beast

It’s Monterey Car Week on California’s Central Coast. Here’s what to expect from America’s most prestigious car show. Fortune

How a Carson landfill will finally morph into a $400-million regional outlet mall. Orange County Register

Shake Shack will open its first Oakland restaurant at Uptown Station. San Francisco Chronicle

San Diego State University’s president has been accused of promoting a “political litmus test” for top jobs by a former dean. San Diego Union-Tribune


Women of color face the highest rent burden in the Bay Area, according to a new study. Mercury News

Want a historic bus-stop sign? Sacramento Regional Transit is giving them away. Sacramento Bee

Bay Area vistas: Here are some of the best views to be found, including several off the beaten path. San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles: sunny, 86. San Diego: sunny, 79. San Francisco: sunny, 80. San Jose: sunny, 97. Sacramento: sunny, 105 (!). More weather is here.



Today’s California Memory comes from Nancy Coonridge:

“I grew up in the San Francisco East Bay. Our first house in Rollingwood, next to Richmond, was part of a tract housing project but our house backed up to open rolling hills complete at first with sheep. Crossing the seasonal creek we could hike for hours. In spring the fields were adorned with thick patches of wild flowers — poppy and lupin.... In the fall the hills were burned and the air would smell of the crisp charred plants. Walking barefoot was now impossible because of sharp stubble. We all were distressed each year.”

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, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.