Newsletter: Essential California: What’s wrong with the Orange County D.A.'s office?

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Jan. 5. Musician Moby says he is donating 100% of the profits from his new vegan restaurant to animal welfare organizations. “I want it to represent veganism in a really positive light,” he said of the Silver Lake spot. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Jailhouse problems

A “failure of leadership.” A new report uses that phrase to describe the Orange County district attorney’s office’s problems with jailhouse informants, which then eroded confidence in cases that relied on such evidence. The committee created by Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas found the office operating “as a ship without a rudder.” The renewed focus on Orange County’s use of so-called jail snitches came during the prosecution of Scott Dekraai, who killed eight people, including his ex-wife. Los Angeles Times


Helping the homeless

State senators gathered in Los Angeles on Monday to announce a $2-billion plan to build housing for mentally ill people living on the street. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León plans to pay for the program with funds from Proposition 63, which are designated for mental health services. An additional $200 million in state funds could be used for temporary rent subsidies until the construction is complete. Los Angeles Times

Back to work

Employees returned to San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center on Monday, a month after two shooters killed 14 people and injured 22. Greeting the employees was a fence with makeshift memorials and security guards checking identification. In the afternoon, thousands packed an Ontario arena for a service to remember those killed on Dec. 2, 2015. Los Angeles Times



Rain schedule: The power of El Niño can be understood in its pattern of storms. Rather than producing one massive rain storm, the system brings in many storms in quick succession. “As this goes on for many weeks, then you start to soak the hillsides — then you get more instability,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And that instability can lead to mudslides. Los Angeles Times

Where’s the rain? These maps show the rainstorms moving in across Southern California. Los Angeles Times

Something in the air: There’s toxic mercury in the fog rolling into San Francisco. The compound is frequently found in burning coal and other fossil fuels. SFGate


Closing time: It will cost $160,000 to close up a Silver Lake pedestrian tunnel that officials say has become a hangout for drug users. The tunnel under Sunset Boulevard was built in 1924 so students and parents could safely cross to Micheltorena Street Elementary. Eastsider LA

NFL at last? The Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams each submitted relocation applications to the National Football League on the first day they were eligible to do so. It’s the first time any teams have formally requested to fill the L.A. vacancy. “The applications Monday were the most predictable step in a process rife with uncertainty. But there isn’t a consensus among NFL owners on which plan to approve.” Los Angeles Times

Missing valve: The natural gas well that has been leaking since October lacked a safety valve. Though the valve may not have stopped the leak, it could have prevented the fumes from wafting over into nearby Porter Ranch, according to an attorney for displaced residents. “Until the facts are determined and this assessment is completed, it is premature to comment further on the well or the cause of the incident,” according to a spokeswoman for Southern California Gas Co. Los Angeles Times


More well news: Gas Co. crews are erecting mesh screens around the well to prevent an oily mist from drifting off the site. Nearby residents are finding droplets of dark brown residue on their homes, vehicles, fish ponds and gardens. Los Angeles Times

Beach at dawn: Drone footage shows the beauty of an empty Venice Beach. Curbed LA


Ballot measure: An advisory measure asking California voters how they feel about campaign spending could appear on the November ballot. Specifically, the measure will ask voters whether there should be a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions in federal elections. Los Angeles Times

Return of GOP: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer believes he can pave the way for Republican mayors in other major cities. The key to his successful campaign, he says, was engaging with low-income and minority voters. “I said: ‘Look, my job is to provide opportunity. My job is to ensure we’re providing equal access to services. And we’re going to do things differently,’” Faulconer said. City Lab

Sitting one out: Assembly minority leader Kristin Olsen (R-Riverbank) will not mount a challenge for a state Senate seat. Olsen had been expected to run against incumbent Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton). “What it really came down to was what’s best for my family,” Olsen said. Sacramento Bee


Police punishments: Why are so few LAPD officers disciplined when they fatally shoot a suspect? “Less than one-third of Los Angeles officers received suspensions, despite the commission ruling their shooting incidents violated department policy or veered from training protocols. Rather, officers typically received a written reprimand or no penalty at all.” Daily News


Court case: California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs is at the center of one of this year’s biggest Supreme Court Cases. At issue is whether public employees can be forced to pay union dues. Arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn. are expected to be heard on Jan. 11. The Economist

Vicious attack: A 32-year-old man was attacked by two dogs in Golden Gate Park, police said. Instead of helping him, the dogs’ owner hit the victim with a metal pipe. A woman then kicked the victim and stole his backpack. SFGate

Child killed: A 9-year-old boy was mauled to death by dogs owned by his 24-year-old sister, authorities said. Tyler Griffin-Huston had been under the care of the Sacramento County Child Protective Services but was recently released into the care of his sibling. The dogs were described as pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Sacramento Bee


No thanks: In-N-Out cheeseburgers are delicious. However, we do not recommend that you make this In-N-Out pie. BuzzFeed

Homeless to 90210: A homeless dog from Northern California is now living the high life with a real housewife of Beverly Hills. Harrison is a 4-year-old Pomeranian with a skin condition. He was living in a Sacramento animal shelter before he was scooped up by Lisa Vanderpump, who already has a Pomeranian with the skin ailment alopecia. Sacramento Bee

It’s a seal: The elephant seal that tried to cross a busy Sonoma County highway is now a mom. Tolay, as she was nicknamed, gave birth to a pup Saturday. Los Angeles Times

Bed bugs bite: Ick, ick, ick. A California couple took video of the bed bugs they found in the mattress of their New York hotel room. SFGate


Get out those umbrellas: San Francisco will be rainy with a high of 55 degrees. Los Angeles will be rainy and 59. There will be rain and a high of 56 degrees in Riverside. San Diego will have rain and a high of 63.


Today’s California Memory comes from Evelyn Word:

“I recall one incredible evening while living in Sausalito. A storm with torrential rains swept the bay. It was 1995. I was renting a flat in an old Victorian home on Bulkley. Just before the rain came, I opened all my windows, my lace curtains blew wildly as I breathed in the unmistakably fragrant smell of San Francisco Bay. One of THE best moments of my life.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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