Newsletter: Essential California: The man taking on the Orange County justice system

Good morning. It is Monday, Sept. 28. Thousands of households in San Francisco lost power this weekend after a raccoon came into contact with some power lines. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Rise to power

The congressman from Bakersfield is poised to become one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. Many expect Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be the next speaker of the House. “Since elected to Congress in 2006, McCarthy made his presence known in California by clashing with Democrats and environmentalists over his efforts to bring more water to farmers, and by aggressively opposing any federal involvement in the high-speed rail system being championed by Gov. Jerry Brown." Los Angeles Times 

Campaign promise

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pledge to “reform” the Department of Water and Power still has a long way to go. Eyes are back on the utility as DWP officials prepare to ask Angelenos for a rate hike. “It's going to be a huge challenge for the mayor to bridge that gap,” according to one political consultant. Los Angeles Times

Mysterious crime

What could be behind the killings of three young brothers? The family was preparing to move back to their South Los Angeles home, out from the car they had been sleeping in. The girlfriend of suspect Luis Fuentes describes him as a loving father. “We have no answers but we have plenty of questions,” a deacon said at a service for the young victims. Los Angeles Times 


Takeaways: At a meeting of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, politicians and tech wizards offered up their thoughts on the California drought. “My kids are waiting for the waterless Slip ‘n Slide,” according to the group’s vice president. Los Angeles Times

Health impacts: The drought has spurred a public health crisis in East Porterville, where wells have gone dry. Stress that comes from a lack of water and a lack of jobs can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. In Australia and India, droughts have been linked to a rise in suicides among farmworkers. Fresno Bee


Wealthy guests: The talk of Beverly Hills these days is wealthy Arab visitors behaving badly. A former mayor of Beverly Hills says his friends are asking, “Who the hell do they think they are, coming here and behaving like that?” But more and more, the local economy depends on “the largesse of these elite Arab visitors.” Los Angeles Times

Transit of the future: Two L.A. startups are designing the tubes that could one day be used in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. “Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. in Playa Vista (HTT) and Hyperloop Technologies Inc. (HT) in downtown's Arts District ... have the same goal but their approach to management could hardly be more different. In a sense, it's also a race to prove which management style works best.” Los Angeles Times

Teacher’s memorial: Hundreds of students turned out for the memorial service of longtime Hamilton High School teacher Alan Kaplan, who pushed the teenagers to confront racial inequalities. “They came from near and far to pay tribute in the auditorium of the school where Kaplan implored them not to believe everything they thought they knew about one another, the world or themselves,” writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times

Visit to Koreatown: Comedian Danny Cho on discovering that Korea was, in fact, not like Los Angeles’ K-town: “K-town was built with the intention of not forgetting their past and preserving the Korea they left behind. Korea, on the other hand, developed tremendously in the last 50 years. So there is a bit of disconnect,” he said. Los Angeles Times


Budget woes: Is Los Angeles’ pledge to spend $100 million on homelessness a sign that the city’s budget crisis is over? Maybe. "A comprehensive solution ... would almost certainly cost more than $100 million. And that's not a commitment we can make on an ongoing basis while we're still facing a structural deficit,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian. Los Angeles Times

Money fight: Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and state Sen. Marty Block will be fighting over the same donors when they face off in next year’s state Senate race. Data show more than a quarter of Block’s donors also gave money to Atkins. KPBS

End of life: Will California join Oregon in allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives? One writer reflects on her role in helping her mother end her battle with Parkinson’s. “Losing a parent is hard enough; watching them fumble to end their lives without medical oversight or support adds a terrible layer of anxiety and confusion to the heartbreak.” Newsweek

Dislike button: While at a United Nations luncheon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s policies on hate speech. The German leader believes not enough is being done to crack down on racist posts. Bloomberg 


Defense on offense: Defense attorney Scott Sanders is the man responsible for exposing the use of jailhouse informants in the Orange County criminal system. As a result of his work, attorneys with the district attorney’s office are barred from prosecuting the biggest mass-murder case in the county’s history. “Scott Sanders has become a folk hero,” said the San Francisco public defender. Orange County Register

Medical problems: “Horrible.” That’s what one L.A. County Superior Court judge called the allegations in what may be the state’s largest insurance fraud case ever. Prosecutors say dozens of patients had unnecessary surgeries performed by an assistant who never attended medical school. Many of those patients were left with scars and ongoing medical problems. Los Angeles Times 


Troubling questions: Was there more that Kaiser Permanente could have done to help an 83-year-old woman with depression? After being told that drugs were not working and she would have to wait months to see a psychiatrist, Barbara Ragan went to the top of a Kaiser parking structure in Northern California and jumped to her death. “She could have jumped anywhere, but she went right to Kaiser. It's like sending a message right to them: 'You couldn't take care of me, so here I am,’” her husband said. Los Angeles Times 


Valley’s homeless: The San Fernando Valley is known for its sprawl, and that’s one of the things that makes being homeless there so difficult. Unlike downtown’s skid row, the Valley has fewer services, and even when they are available, it’s a challenge for homeless men and women to get there. “The Valley does not seem to be the priority when it comes to funding homeless services in Los Angeles,” said Ken Craft, president and CEO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. Daily News

Special populations: Young adults, veterans, victims of domestic violence -- they all have different needs when it comes to moving off the streets. One man who experienced homelessness for six years believes providers should focus on teenagers and young adults who can turn around their situation in a relatively short period of time. “The biggest mistake that’s being made in the homelessness services field is trying to use a one-size-fits-all approach,” writes Quinn French. San Francisco Chronicle


Strike anniversary: It has been 50 years since farmworkers went on strike in Delano. Now, they’re gathering there to reflect on the start of a civil rights movement. Los Angeles Times

Baseball’s history: A USC professor and graduate student are trying to interview every living African American player who was a part of baseball during the first 25 years of Major League Baseball’s racial integration. “Many of the recollections are serious in nature, but others are about clubhouse characters, the greatness of Willie Mays and theories on the running game.” Los Angeles Times

Art icon: Is billionaire Eli Broad Los Angeles’ own Medici? He is the chief patron of many of Los Angeles’ art museums. The New Yorker


San Diego will be partly sunny and 83 degrees. It will be sunny and 95 in Riverside. Parts of Los Angeles will have low clouds. Highs are expected to reach 88. San Francisco will be partly sunny and 69 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for famous Californians:

Comedian Andrew Dice Clay (Sept. 29, 1958), USC President C.L. Max Nikias (Sept. 30, 1952), Dodgers player Kenley Jansen (Sept. 30, 1987), singer and actress Julie Andrews (Oct. 1, 1935), Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire (Oct. 1, 1963), Rep. Devin Nunes (Oct. 1, 1973), former Dodger Maury Wills (Oct. 2, 1932), Rep. Karen Bass (Oct. 3, 1953), singer Gwen Stefani (Oct. 3, 1969), actress Alicia Silverstone (Oct. 4, 1976).

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.