Newsletter: The California-Iowa connection

Iowa Picnic on the front page of Los Angeles Times City News section from Feb. 23, 1930.
(Los Angeles Times archives)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Feb. 3, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

The Iowa caucus will be held on Monday, marking the first major contest of the 2020 presidential race. Iowa remains one of just a handful of states in the nation to use the caucus system, where voters gather at a set location to discuss and vote on the candidates instead of just casting a secret ballot at a polling place.

This year, the Iowa Democratic Party is also hosting satellite caucuses — including two held in California — to allow Iowans living out of state the opportunity to cast votes. As many as 140 Iowans are expected to attend the California caucus sites, with one in Palm Springs and another at Stanford University. Follow 2020 campaign reporter Melissa Gomez for updates from the Palm Springs satellite Iowa caucus.

(A few fun facts on the California-Iowa connection, which is strong and goes back more than a century: In 1907, citrus groups and Southern Pacific famously teamed up on a joint ad campaign to sell California oranges, and the idea of California itself, directly to Iowans. With the slogan “Oranges for Health — California for Wealth,” special orange trains crisscrossed Iowa, and Midwesterners continued their westward exodus in droves. The idea that Southern California was full of Iowans soon became a cultural trope and common punchline. And in Long Beach, nicknamed “Iowa by the Sea,” the annual Iowa Picnic attracted tens of thousands of people throughout the first half of the 20th century.)

Also Monday: Who needs Iowa? Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be in California, courting voters up and down the state.

On Tuesday, President Trump will deliver his 2020 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar will give the Spanish-language response.


The eighth Democratic debate will be held Friday in New Hampshire.

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday. As with last year, the ceremony will go without a host. Here’s the full list of nominees.

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

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV. This is the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl win in 50 years. Our thoughts are with the people of San Francisco during this difficult time. Los Angeles Times

During halftime, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira fused old-school razzle-dazzle with Latin American pride in a hip-shaking, pole-dancing, history-making performance. Los Angeles Times

Health officials in Northern California announced Sunday that three more people have been infected with the new strain of coronavirus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the state to six. There are 11 confirmed cases nationwide. Starting Sunday, foreign nationals who have recently visited China won’t be allowed to enter the U.S., and American citizens returning from mainland China will be subject to 14-day quarantines. Nearly 200 people who left Wuhan fleeing the virus were evacuated last week to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County and quarantined. Los Angeles Times


In L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley, fear of the coronavirus has changed habits in ways big and small. Los Angeles Times


Outside Staples Center, a grim hustle for unlicensed vendors of Kobe R.I.P. shirts: Nearly a week after the death of Kobe Bryant, the vigil at Staples Center in honor of the basketball great was a hub of activity. But Sunday was the last day for people to leave behind jerseys, flowers and artwork. Los Angeles Times

Kobe T-shirts
A street vendor, right, sells Kobe Bryant T-shirts along Figueroa near the Staples Center.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Actress Pamela Anderson and movie mogul Jon Peters have uncoupled, 12 days after tying the knot in Malibu. Anderson, who had previously given the Hollywood Reporter a 20-line free verse love poem in lieu of the usual publicist-written statement confirming the nuptials, asked for privacy as she and Peters “re-evaluate what we want from life and from one another.” Hollywood Reporter

“BoJack Horseman” is a love letter to L.A. Here’s a guide to the Netflix show’s best L.A. in-joke. Los Angeles Times

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Trump’s expanded travel ban will hit Nigerians the hardest: Nigerians make up the largest population of African immigrants living in the U.S., and the policy could erode their deep family and cultural ties to their home country. Vox



Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has endorsed Michael R. Bloomberg for president, joining a growing list of California mayors (and, in this case, former mayors) backing the billionaire. Los Angeles Times

Two local members of Congress are questioning why the plane carrying now-quarantined passengers from Wuhan was rerouted to March Air Reserve Base. The plane was originally set to arrive at Ontario International Airport. Desert Sun


Deputies at a Northern California jail confiscated what they believe was several hundred gallons’ worth of homemade jailhouse alcohol ahead of the Super Bowl. “We will all watch the Super Bowl today at Santa Rita sober,” a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said. San Francisco Chronicle


Two California bases were picked as possible coronavirus quarantine sites. The Defense Department said Saturday it has agreed to house up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel because of the coronavirus and that two of the four facilities selected are in California: Travis Air Force Base in Solano County and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County. Los Angeles Times

Even after the Oroville near-disaster, California dams remain potentially hazardous. An audit of 650 California dams considered hazardous found that only a small fraction have completed emergency plans required after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed three years ago. San Francisco Chronicle


Norms is expanding like crazy. How a Southern California institution is staying the same to get ahead. Los Angeles Times


Roasted crab and garlic noodles from Thanh Long, rum cake from Dianda’s Bakery and Anchor Brewing beer. Those are the San Francisco delicacies that Mayor London Breed now owes Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, per a Super Bowl wager made by the two on Twitter. Eater SF

How a 1995 John Singleton film presaged today’s sex, gun and race issues. “Higher Learning,” about the struggles of a group of freshmen at the fictional Columbus University in Los Angeles, was released when Singleton was 27. Los Angeles Times

Residents fighting the closure of a Little Saigon mobile home park have notched a victory. The tenants are mostly elderly and disabled people, including veterans and refugees of the Vietnam War, who worry they would be priced out of Orange County’s housing market. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: sunny, 65. San Diego: sunny, 62. San Francisco: sunny, 55. San Jose: sunny, 56. Sacramento: sunny, 55. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti (Feb. 4, 1971), boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya (Feb. 4, 1973), Golden State Warriors player Klay Thompson (Feb. 8, 1990) and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (Feb. 9, 1941).

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.