Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Aug. 29, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
A biting audit released Wednesday showed that L.A.’s top homeless outreach agency failed dramatically to meet the goals of its contract with the city of Los Angeles.
The audit, which was released by Controller Ron Galperin, looked at the work of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The authority, which is commonly referred to as LAHSA, had been tasked with moving hundreds of people from the streets into housing, shelters or treatment for mental illness and substance abuse.
As senior writer Doug Smith explained in his story for the paper, the audit found that, despite having more than doubled its staff of outreach workers in the last two years, LAHSA missed seven of nine goals during the 2017-18 fiscal year and five of eight last fiscal year.
At a news conference, Galperin characterized the results as “shocking,” and said that the authority’s “outreach is fundamentally limited because it is reactive instead of being proactive,” with much of its time consumed by responding to calls about encampments throughout the city.
“Peter Lynn, the authority’s executive director, called the audit misleading because it only studied measures that are ill-suited to determining the effectiveness of homeless outreach, and because it covered only the fraction of LAHSA’s system that is covered by the city contract,” Smith wrote.
[Read the story: “Scathing new audit finds deep operational failures at L.A.’s top homeless outreach agency” in the Los Angeles Times]
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, asylum seekers are forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in the United States. Some are attacked, sexually assaulted, and extorted. Others subjected to the policy have later died. In dozens of interviews and in court proceedings, current and former officials, judges, lawyers and advocates for asylum seekers said that Homeland Security officials implementing Remain in Mexico appear to be violating U.S. law, and the human cost is rising. Los Angeles Times
A homeless man who was a beloved musician and mentor on skid row was burned to death after a 38-year-old man allegedly set his tent on fire, police and activists said Wednesday. The suspect was arrested shortly after the attack. Los Angeles Times
Warring factions of California’s K-12 education system have reached an agreement on legislation that would place new restrictions on charter schools and pause a long-standing battle at the state Capitol between politically powerful teachers unions and deep-pocketed charter advocates. Los Angeles Times
As it navigates a raft of high-profile scandals, the University of Southern California has selected a new provost and second-in-command: Charles F. Zukoski, an accomplished chemical engineer and the current provost of the University at Buffalo. Los Angeles Times
When cancer closed in, a photographer turned to Los Angeles to help see her through. Los Angeles Times
Two churches in Burbank have established their own Little Free Pantries, where they stock the outdoor cupboards with nonperishable food items and toiletries that are free for anyone who needs them. Burbank Leader
The number of parking tickets issued by the City of Los Angeles dipped 13.1% during the first seven months of 2019 compared with the same time last year. Crosstown LA
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
Citizenship will no longer be automatic for children of some U.S. military members and government employees living overseas. CNN
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped plans for a California homelessness czar, abandoning what had been a campaign promise to instead rely on a task force and staff members. Sacramento Bee
AB 5 goes national: How a controversial California gig economy bill became a test for 2020 candidates. Vox
Central Valley rematch: Last year, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) ousted incumbent former Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) from his congressional seat by less than 1,000 votes. Now, after quite a bit of speculation, Valadao has officially announced his candidacy for his former seat. California’s 21st Congressional District was one of seven Republican districts that Democrats flipped in the 2018 midterms, so the rematch for this San Joaquin Valley House seat should make for an interesting test of those gains. Fresno Bee
Westminster residents waited decades for their City Council to become the nation’s first with a Vietnamese American majority. Now some in the Orange County city are watching with growing frustration and anger as that majority threatens to implode. Los Angeles Times
A Merced school superintendent resigned after a harassment probe but left with a year’s salary in severance pay. Merced Sun-Star
San Francisco society in-fighting: The San Francisco Democratic Party chairman is calling on a nonprofit healthcare organization to rescind its plan to honor socialite and philanthropist Dede Wilsey with a lifetime achievement award because Wilsey was listed as a co-host for a Trump fundraiser last month. (Wilsey, who SF Weekly once described as “the kind of central-casting socialite who poses for photographs while holding a coiffured lapdog” is a fixture of Pacific Heights high society who figured prominently in Politico’s recent feature on the role San Francisco’s moneyed elite played in launching Kamala Harris’ career. She is a registered Republican and the mother of the man Trump appointed as ambassador to Austria last year but has a long history of pouring money down both sides of the aisle. In a fun side note, she is also the stepmother of author Sean Wilsey, who wrote the 2005 literary-memoir-cum-SF-society-tell-all “Oh the Glory of It All.”) San Francisco Chronicle
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, but 20 candidates are still fighting for a spot at the top of the Democratic ticket. Here’s a brief rundown on the 15 men and five women who remain. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
The L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy who allegedly faked being shot by a sniper has been fired from the department. Los Angeles Times
“This was a deliberate attempt using scare tactics to evict a family from a home”: A family newly arrived to Silicon Valley from North Carolina — and having trouble making their first rent payment — became the target of a home invasion orchestrated by the frustrated landlord as a way to scare them from the apartment, police and one of the alleged victims said Tuesday. The landlord and four of her friends are now facing felony charges. San Francisco Chronicle
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
A Central Coast legislator and two pro-nuclear groups are taking an unusual step to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant operating: They want an amendment to the state Constitution classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source. The operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors expire in 2024 and 2025 respectively, and the San Luis Obispo County plant is slated for closure in 2026. San Luis Obispo Tribune
Cows have invaded an upscale San Jose neighborhood. Mercury News
After Hurricane Katrina, a priceless musical archive was thought lost. Then it showed up at a swap meet in Torrance. Los Angeles Times
What is Sacramento reading? Here are the books denizens of the state capital love at libraries across the region. Sacramento Bee
These Bay Area food favorites will be available at the Chase Center. SF Gate
Noble Orchards in Paradise has invited the community to come help pick ripe apples because most of its equipment, including its cold storage, burned in the Camp fire. The fire destroyed the 11 buildings on the Noble family’s property, but most of the trees remained intact — and they are now so laden with fruit that branches are at risk of breaking and apples are rotting on the ground. People can pick the apples for free, but the orchard is taking donations. Chico Enterprise-Record
Los Angeles: sunny, 85. San Diego: partly sunny, 78. San Francisco: partly sunny, 69. San Jose: partly sunny, 80. Sacramento: sunny, 90. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Keith Sheldon:
“I was a 10th grader at Hollywood High School. I earned money with a paper route that included Paramount Studios. One day I was walking on a movie set with my head down to avoid tripping on the numerous floor cables and lighting strips. As I turned a corner, I bumped into my favorite entertainer… Elvis Presley.
“He smiled down at me and said, ‘Excuse me. Are you OK?’ So shocked was I that I could only mumble a weak, ‘Yes, sir.’
“He turned to whisper to a nearby associate who handed me a $20 bill for my remaining five newspapers. Wish I still had it.”
FOR THE RECORD: The Elvis encounter “California memory” was originally attributed to Sharon Sheldon, but it should have been credited to her husband, Keith Sheldon, who sent it from his wife’s computer.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)