Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Jan. 9, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
A roundup of the stories shaping California.
We appear to have just retreated from the brink of all-out war with Iran, commercial airlines have rerouted flights crossing the Middle East to avoid potential dangers amid the tensions, and Australia is still burning.
But let’s take a minute to discuss the question that’s really on everyone’s minds: Might Meghan Markle move back to her hometown?
On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would “step back” from their role as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent.” The couple’s relinquishment of royal duties was made even more dramatic by Buckingham Palace’s response — a brusque, two-sentence statement that made it seem like the rest of the monarchy may have been blindsided by Harry and Meghan’s announcement.
[Read the story: “Harry and Meghan plan to step back from duties. Royal family says it is ‘hurt’” in the Los Angeles Times]
The news was a palace intrigue plot twist rivaled perhaps only by former King Edward VIII’s 1939 decision to abdicate his throne and marry Wallis Simpson — another American divorcée cast as a kind of monarchy-edition Yoko Ono.
[See also: “Column: ‘The Crown’ finally has its happy ending — Harry and Meghan go rogue” in the Los Angeles Times]
Markle and Harry said they now plan to “balance” their time between the U.K. and “North America.” Some of the royal-watcher rumor mill seems to be putting its money on Canada, where Markle lived for several years filming “Suits,” but Los Angeles could certainly also be in the cards.
Markle, a self-described California girl, was born in L.A. and attended Los Feliz’s Immaculate Heart High School. Her mother, Doria Ragland, still lives in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood.
More importantly, Markle once described herself on her former lifestyle blog the Tig as someone who “lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach, or a few avocados,” which sounds like a hard point in the West Coast column. She has also previously opined on Canadian winters, and the prospect of a voluntary January there could be less than enticing.
[Another column worth reading: “Renounce your titles, you cowards” in the Los Angeles Times]
That pesky matter of “financial independence”
Now that they’re off the royal dole, Markle and Prince Harry will need to contend with the plebeian indignity of a day job.
Unfortunately “Suits,” the USA legal drama where Markle first became semi-famous playing paralegal Rachel Zane, concluded its nine-season run last September.
Over at Bloomberg, Lucas Shaw suggested the lucrative public-speaking circuit could be a possibility for a pair of intrepid royals seeking financial independence. A speaking agency co-founder Shaw spoke with estimated that the couple could each get more than $100,000 per appearance, with Harry potentially nearing President Obama’s roughly $500,000 fee.
They could also easily take another Obama route and set up podcast and film production deals. Maybe it’s only a matter of time before someone spots them in the Netflix lobby.
What happens next is anyone’s guess.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Citing the need to act quickly to get homeless Californians off the streets, Gov. Gavin Newsom will ask lawmakers this week to allocate more than $1.4 billion to a variety of local and state-run efforts, with much of the money earmarked as subsidies for immediate housing and community healthcare services. The proposal marks the second straight year of sending state taxpayer dollars to local communities struggling with a growing crisis that has drawn national attention. Los Angeles Times
The Oscars will go hostless again this year. The development comes as little surprise after last year’s hostless ceremony saw an uptick in viewers. Los Angeles Times
A punk icon to guide you through LAX: Former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins has an unlikely new role as a Los Angeles Tourism Board spokesman, hosting a five-part video series about the city. Pitchfork
“Barrio wisdom.” A professor reflects on seven life lessons learned while growing up in L.A.'s housing projects. L.A. Taco
Devin Mallory is doing what he loves as the first man on UCLA’s dance team. UCLA is one of the latest teams, from college to the pros, to add men to its dance squad. Los Angeles Times
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
Haitians gained protections to stay in the U.S. after a devastating earthquake. A decade later, President Trump wants those to end. Los Angeles Times
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
The House will vote on a war powers resolution Thursday to limit what military action President Trump can take against Iran after Democrats — and even a couple of Republicans — complained a Trump administration briefing on the justification for killing a top Iranian general came down to simply: Trust us. Los Angeles Times
Newsom won’t call a special election to fill Duncan Hunter’s congressional seat. After Hunter resigns on Monday, the seat will remain without a representative until next January. Los Angeles Times
California is poised to extend healthcare coverage to seniors who are in the country without legal status. Democratic lawmakers expect Newsom to embrace an effort to include them in the state’s Medi-Cal program — either in his new state budget or with his signature on legislation. Los Angeles Times
Former Sen. Barbara Boxer is joining a Washington lobbying firm. Boxer said she was recruited to Mercury Public Affairs by two fellow former California electeds who are now at the firm: former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and former L.A. mayor and Herbalife consultant Antonio Villaraigosa. Politico
CRIME AND COURTS
Harvey Weinstein wants the judge presiding over his New York rape trial to recuse himself. His lawyer argued that the comments the judge made about Weinstein using his cellphone in court were “prejudicial and inflammatory.” BuzzFeed
On the anniversary of Timothy Dean’s death, his family sues Ed Buck. Dean was found dead in Buck’s home last January, marking the second time in less than two years that a black man had died of an overdose at Buck’s home. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Rain and snow will creep over parts of California on Thursday, but the L.A. Basin is unlikely to see much precipitation. Los Angeles Times
MillerCoors’ Irwindale brewery will shut down — unless Pabst buys it. The brewery in Irwindale has fallen victim to a years-long slump in sales of light beer, and 470 jobs there could be lost. Los Angeles Times
The NBA fined Warriors coach Steve Kerr $25,000 following his ejection from Wednesday’s game. Mercury News
Can San Francisco be fixed? Here’s what an array of people from Marc Benioff to housing activists have to say on the matter. Curbed SF
The population of Berkeley schools has become much more affluent over the last decade, echoing the broader effects of continued gentrification on the city. Berkeleyside
Los Angeles: sunny, 62. San Diego: rain, 62. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 55. San Jose: rain, 56. Sacramento: rain, 53. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Joan G. Magit:
When I moved to Los Angeles from Massachusetts in the middle the 1950s, I remember what a very clean city I had entered. Not a scrap of paper on the streets of Los Angeles and all policemen wore white gloves. There was a wonderful Red Car that ran through the city of Beverly Hills, and a sign on Sunset Blvd. that read ‘You Are Entering Beverly Hills.’ At first, I thought I could not enter this magical place and stopped to ask a policeman if I could continue to drive into Beverly Hills.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)