Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Sept. 17, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
Scholars, pundits and political reporters have long tried to probe the presidential id. Usually, it’s not until well after a leader of the free world has left office that historians can gain access to all the correspondence and primary source materials that might allow for a keyhole into their hidden needs and desires. But this administration is different.
On his Twitter feed, President Trump, who has been dubbed the tweeter in chief, offers a near-constant window into his most recent thoughts, wants, grudges and decisions, often in a seemingly unfiltered stream. (Twitter is also where he occasionally fires high-level people and makes impromptu foreign policy.)
He has tweeted thousands of times since taking office, and California has been one of the most dominant topics on his feed. The president, who lost the state by more than 4 million votes in 2016, is returning Tuesday to raise money for his reelection campaign. In honor of his visit, our data team worked to compile everything the president has tweeted about the Golden State since taking office in one place, where they could draw some patterns and insight.
But first, they needed to define what it even meant to tweet about California.
Graphics and data journalist Priya Krishnakumar, who led the project, explained that the group looked beyond references to the word “California” alone and created a broad dictionary of terms that touched on California policies and politicians. (They chose to ignore references to individual celebrities.)
The president’s unique tweeting style, which often includes creative spellings and nicknames, brought some challenges. They found that they couldn’t just search for an individual name, like, say, Rep. Adam Schiff, because he might be referred to as “little Adam Schiff” or “Liddle Adam Schiff” or "#ShiftySchiff” or even “Adam” followed by an expletive that happens to sound a lot like Schiff. These kind of variations in spelling and nomenclature meant they had to sort through and categorize all of the president’s tweets manually, instead of creating some kind of script to do that grunt work for them.
They found that the president had tweeted 219 times about California since taking office, with significant upticks in November 2018 (when California Republicans lost several seats in the midterm election and wildfires ripped through the state) and January 2019 (when Trump ramped up attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats). Pelosi, who represents California’s 12th district in San Francisco, garnered more tweets than any other California topic.
“It’s not all negative,” Data Desk editor Ben Welsh explained. “He loves to praise Republicans like Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes. But not as much as he loves to trash Nancy Pelosi.”
[Read the story and see all the tweets: “Pelosi, Hollywood and high taxes: Here’s everything Trump has tweeted about California” in the Los Angeles Times]
Plus, in news you can use, a quick note on L.A. road closures and the president’s visit. As of late Monday night, the full details of traffic-snarling road closures had yet to be announced. However, KTLA reports that the president will be traveling by motorcade from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills for a 6:30 p.m. fundraiser Tuesday, and then traveling again by motorcade from Beverly Hills to his downtown L.A. lodgings around 8:30 p.m.
Angelenos will also want to avoid the area of 7th and Figueroa streets in downtown Los Angeles most of Tuesday and early Wednesday, as an LAPD sergeant tweeted Tuesday night that all streets in and around the area of 7th and Fig will be closed from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday for the visit. “This will affect all traffic in the #DTLA area so plan accordingly,” he added forebodingly.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a crackdown on illicit e-cigarettes and plans to launch a state-sponsored public awareness campaign about the dangers of the devices amid a nationwide outbreak of serious lung illness connected to vaping. Los Angeles Times
WGA West President David Goodman was easily reelected Monday in a hotly contested race that highlighted deep divisions in the union’s handling of a long-running dispute with agents. Goodman defeated Oscar-nominated film writer Phyllis Nagy, who led a dissident campaign against him and other union leaders, citing a lack of progress in negotiations to end unpopular industry practices. Her defeat gives Goodman and his supporters an important boost and diminishes the pressure to bring a swift resolution to a standoff that has captivated Hollywood. Los Angeles Times
Where could homeless people sleep under a proposed L.A. plan? Activists took to the streets with pens and maps to check. Los Angeles Times
A woman beat a West Hollywood parking ticket with a viral tweet. Los Angeles Magazine
Not-so-humble brag: “It’s self-serving and haughty to assert that no American news service has championed Mexican food better than the Los Angeles Times, but it’s the truth,” writes Times reporter Gustavo Arellano — who quite literally wrote the book on Mexican food in the United States. Here’s his take on how The Times has covered Mexican food over the last 137 years. Los Angeles Times
Netflix has landed the global streaming rights to “Seinfeld.” It will offer all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld” when the five-year pact takes effect in 2021. Los Angeles Times
L.A. Phil Chief Executive Simon Woods has resigned, leaving supporters “stunned.” Los Angeles Times
For generations, reporters have been trying to slip the phrase “occult hand” past editors and into their respective newspapers. On Saturday, “occult hand” made it onto the Los Angeles Times weather page. Here’s the story behind one of journalism’s longest-running inside jokes. Columbia Journalism Review
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in San Francisco in opposition to immigration detention centers and the federal government’s treatment of asylum seekers. Mission Local
As California moves to ban private prisons, a California lawmaker decries “unsanitary conditions” at an ICE detention facility in the high desert. Desert Sun
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Gov. Newsom defended his actions on new California vaccine laws, downplaying questions about why he demanded additional changes to the contentious legislation after agreeing to sign it. Los Angeles Times
The California bullet train project’s mishandling of land deals has added to mounting costs and delays. Los Angeles Times
A 2018 ballot measure that doubled pay for San Diego City Council members is already attracting a broader pool of better-qualified candidates, observers say. San Diego Union-Tribune
CRIME AND COURTS
Prosecutors in Santa Clara County have reportedly served at least three search warrants while investigating whether the county sheriff’s office gave out coveted concealed-gun permits in exchange for campaign money. (Some background, as explained in the story: In ultra-moneyed Silicon Valley, there’s high demand for specialized private security, and private guards who aren’t retired police officers need permits to carry hidden guns. It remains unclear how many of those licenses have been granted in Santa Clara County, where officials have denied the San Francisco Chronicle’s requests for information about issued permits, citing the investigation. AS Solution, a security company whose bodyguards protect Silicon Valley tech executives, is among those who have been contacted by investigators, but it’s unknown how many AS Solution employees, if any, have received concealed-gun permits in the county.) San Francisco Chronicle
After a $40-million embezzlement, a former CBS credit union manager gets 14 years in jail.Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
More Northern Californians are turning to solar power as the North Coast faces a growing threat of wildfires and blackouts. Santa Rosa Press Democrat
The Bay Area’s first rainfall in about four months fell across the region early Monday. There was mostly drizzle, with intermittent bursts of precipitation. San Francisco Chronicle
Roughly 80,000 Kaiser workers plan to walk off their jobs in October for a seven-day strike that will affect California and five other states. Los Angeles Times
Meet the stick-shift holdouts of San Francisco, who fearlessly tackle those famous hills. SF Gate
ThirdLove, a San Francisco-based bra startup that’s been billed as the anti-Victoria’s Secret, has pitched itself as being run by women, for women. But employees at the company allege policies at odds with the brand’s progressive stance and bullying from the male co-CEO. Vox
A San Luis Obispo couple tied the knot in the Grocery Outlet aisle where they met. KSBY
The chef who put Uptown Whittier’s Mexican food scene on Jonathan Gold’s map, Ricardo Díaz, has announced a fall grand opening for his highly anticipated new project: Whittier Brewing Company at Poet Gardens. L.A. Taco
Alice Waters says the name “Gourmet Ghetto” should go: The chef, whom the San Francisco Chronicle once called “the doyenne of the Gourmet Ghetto,” joined a new business owner on the block in pushing for a name change for the Berkeley neighborhood (and culinary destination). San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles: sunny, 82. San Diego: sunny, 77. San Francisco: windy, 70. San Jose: partly sunny, 76. Sacramento: sunny, 82. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Terrance Thibodeaux:
“I first came to California in late November 1978; 19, gay, scared and running away from Louisiana for a new life in San Francisco. Young and incredibly naive, I had all sorts of fantasies about the City by the Bay. But I arrived to the black-bunting-draped reality of a shell-shocked city mourning the loss of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. No, as it turned out, California wasn’t quite paradise. But I stayed nonetheless. Forty-plus years later, I live in Los Angeles, and walk Dockweiler Beach at sunset with my husband; still gay, completely unafraid and happily married to a wonderful man. Things change, especially out here. And while California still isn’t quite paradise, I watch the sunsets over the ocean and realize that it’s about the closest thing to it on Earth. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)