Inside LA County's foster care system, another LAPD shooting, Republicans visit California's money

Good morning. It is Monday, March 2.  Actor Will Smith has the number one movie in America with "Focus." The film brought in $19.1 million but Warner Bros. executives believe it could have done even better had the weather cooperated in other parts of the country. Here's what else is happening today in the Golden State:



LAPD shooting under scrutiny:


Los Angeles Police Department

is dealing with a fatal officer-involved shooting that was captured in a dramatic video. Officers shot a homeless man during a confrontation on skid row Sunday morning. For all the video shows, it does not show a clear angle of the scuffle, in which a police officer appears to tell the man repeatedly to “drop the gun.” "My heart just started pounding just watching it," said Police Commission President

Steve Soboroff

. "These situations are just so horrific."

Inside foster care: An in-depth profile of Los Angeles County's Youth Welcome Center describes how it is often seen as the last stop for children who are most difficult to place with a foster family. "Two of the system's most debilitating pressures — the desperate shortage of foster homes and the swelling ranks of foster youths involved in prostitution — have conspired here to make this a place where social workers feel as though they are on a never-ending chase to find lasting foster homes for the children." L.A. Times

Rail safety standards vary: Though transit agencies have spent $3 billion on safety improvements since a devastating train crash in Glendale 10 years ago, the efforts across Southern California have been inconsistent. That means commuters face varying risks while riding the same regional rail network. "Because Los Angeles and Orange counties are investing more in grade separations and rail crossing improvements, you are less likely to see an accident like what happened in Ventura County," according to the executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments. L.A. Times


Los Angeles' election preview: L.A. voters will (hopefully) turn up at the polls tomorrow to vote on half of the Los Angeles City Council and school board. They'll also be asked to weigh in on two charter amendments that would move the dates of city elections, all in an effort to increase overall voter participation. Turnout was just 21% in 2013 and that race include citywide office, like the mayor and city attorney, which typically draw in more voters. L.A. Times

Reforming state prisons: He's the Hollywood producer best known for the "Hangover" franchise but now he's become an influential voice in the prison reform movement in California. "When I first heard about him, I have to be honest with you: A white Hollywood guy? He can't be real." California Sunday Magazine

Rebuilding the Lakers: Writer Phil Wallace opines on how the Lakers can once again become a great team. His idea calls for a new coach, general manager and scouts. "Whether the Lakers want to admit it or not, they're already in the post-Kobe era, as he's proven unable to stay healthy and being an elite player for a prolonged period of time." LAObserved

American delicacy: How American ginseng became the rage in shops across the Chinese-American San Gabriel Valley as well as Asia — and made "Wisconsin" a luxury brand. L.A. Times



Republicans court California money: Republican presidential candidates often write off California, a state that has been decidedly blue for the past 25 years. But when it's this early in the election cycle, candidates do flock to California — for its money. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was here this weekend to meet with donors in San Francisco and Southern California. Other candidates who've recently stopped off in the Golden State include Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson. Sacramento Bee

A more inclusive GOP?: In a historic move, the California chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans is now officially recognized by the state Republican Party. The acceptance comes at a time when the party's official platform still states that homosexuality is unacceptable. L.A. Times

The Valley flexes its muscles: Some of the Silicon Valley's top companies are making their presence known in Sacramento with more lobbying. L.A. Times

Now arriving at John Wayne: Rep. Loretta Sanchez wants to make it more attractive for international flights to land at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. She's introduced a bill that would make the airport an official "port of entry" and that would ultimately reduce the fees paid by airlines when they land an international flight. Orange County Register

Wages at the port: Longshoremen, clerks and foremen at West Coast ports have seen their pay remain steady even as other blue collar workers have faced cutbacks or layoffs. L.A. Times


In Friday's Essential California we asked for your thoughts on how the state Republican Party can attract more voters. Reader Karen Jackie had this to say: "Republican Party should pull away from platform issues same sex marriage, opposition to legalization of medical marijuana, abortion. Equal right to healthcare nationwide is important. We need a two party system for checks and balances."


For today's Talk Back, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds most Californians would still choose to live here over another state despite whatever problems the Golden State may have. Respondents said they love the state's weather, culture, diversity and lifestyle.

What is it that you love about California? Or maybe you don't love the state — what problems might lead you to want to leave? Tell us by tweeting with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or sending us an email: reporter Alice Walton and California editor Shelby Grad.


So what's the best thing about living in California? The poll found it's really mostly about one thing:

  • Weather/beaches/coast: 69%

  • Friends/family/people: 18%

  • Diversity/progressive/tolerant: 17%

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.