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Essential California: Politics of the gas leak

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Jan. 19. Folks at the Golden Ram barber shop in Orange County are pretty psyched about the Rams' move back to Southern California. "You do get a better haircut if you're a Ram fan," said owner Sal Martinez. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES

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Lawyering up

With Southern California Gas Co. giving out little information, Porter Ranch residents are turning to attorneys and famous environmentalists for help. Lawyers want their newly minted clients to prepare for a long legal fight by keeping their receipts and a journal of their health problems. One firm brought in Erin Brockovich to help make their case. "When I first came to Porter Ranch, I couldn't believe it. I was in somebody's house and within 10 minutes, I started feeling kind of dizzy," Brockovich said at a recent community meeting. Los Angeles Times

Political approval

How does Gov. Jerry Brown rule Sacramento? Times columnist George Skelton offers this: "Besides any governor's intimidating power to sign or veto bills, one source of Brown's strength is his high job-approval rating among voters: 56%, according to a new Field Poll. Another is a chubby cache of campaign funds — nearly $24 million at last count. He can empty that political arsenal on any ballot measure he chooses. So far he's keeping his powder dry." Los Angeles Times

Welcome to the fair

The Asian American Expo has become a sort of county fair of the pan-Asian variety. In one hall, vendors hawked coffins next to coffee and promoted Chinese versions of Uber, Seamless and Yelp. One table trumpeted investment opportunities, and exhibitors at another offered deals on quinceañeras and weddings for a Koreatown venue, Dream Wedding. Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT AND CLIMATE

Understanding El Niño: Why is Northern California getting all of the rain that was expected in Southern California? Because the full El Niño hasn't arrived yet. "Experts say it's possible that the classic El Niño-influenced pattern could emerge by late January or early February. That would put it more in line with how the most punishing series of storms arrived in February 1998 and March of 1983." Los Angeles Times

Eat your veggies: In Canada, one byproduct of California's drought is rising cauliflower prices, and a lot of people are upset. "I love cauliflower, you can do a lot of things with cauliflower." The Province

Treasure hunt: In Nevada County, one treasure hunter is on the lookout for fruit and nut trees planted more than 100 years ago at homesteads and stagecoach stops. Many are still productive, and that could be a good thing as California struggles through the drought. "If we can figure out how to take those characteristics and meld them into modern agriculture, we're going to have a more sustainable agriculture," said Amigo Bob Cantisano. KQED

L.A. AT LARGE

Mental health help: More and more, police and patients are relying on urgent care centers to treat mental illness. Treatment there can be faster and cheaper than going to the emergency room at the hospital. "The turn to urgent care centers has also helped to alleviate overcrowding at the county hospitals' psychiatric emergency departments and in the regular emergency rooms." Los Angeles Times

New digs: Grindr is moving into an 18,000-square-foot office in the Red Building of the Pacific Design Center. The move comes as the company looks to move beyond its primary function as a dating app for the gay community. It was announced earlier this month that the Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. had purchased a majority stake in the company. LAist

#OscarsSoWhite: Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith won't be at this year's Academy Awards ceremony. They're boycotting over the award show's lack of diversity in its nominations. "How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders in the acting category are all white?" Lee wrote on his Instagram account. Los Angeles Times

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MLK Day: Lots of people had Monday off, but a growing number of people are choosing to honor Martin Luther King Jr. through community service on the holiday. More than 1,500 showed up to revitalize the campuses of Woodcrest Elementary and George Washington Preparatory schools in South L.A. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Proposal delayed: Supporters of measures that would curb retirement benefits for public employees will wait until 2018 to try to qualify their proposals for the ballot. What difference will two years make? Former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed want to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue of mandatory union fees. They also believe voters will be more likely to vote for the measures if the stock market continues to be volatile. Los Angeles Times

Playing politics: Politicians, especially those who are running for office, may appear to be glomming onto the spectacle that is the ongoing gas leak in Aliso Canyon. "You have to be perceived as someone who can actually help solve the problem, not somebody who is grandstanding," said Darry Sragow, a veteran campaign consultant. Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

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Line of duty: A 4-year-old German shepherd who worked the K-9 unit of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department died last week in the line of duty when an object became lodged in his throat. A detective lost a finger trying to save Jojo. "It is a small price to pay in an attempt to save my friend's life. I am devastated that I failed," said Det. Brad Phillips. San Bernardino Sun

Gun trafficking: Two California Army National Guardsmen pleaded guilty to selling guns to an undercover agent with the belief that the firearms were headed to Mexico, according to prosecutors. "The transactions that the men admitted to in court Thursday included the sale of a $1,700 AK-47, a $2,150 AR-15, a .40-caliber pistol and four high-capacity .223 magazines, according to the plea agreement." Staff Sgt. Andrew Reyes and Spc. Jaime Casillas are scheduled to be sentenced in April. Los Angeles Times

Hate speech: Members of the Ku Klux Klan spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day leaving messages of hate on driveways in Anaheim. They did the same thing last year in Fullerton and the year before in Orange. Orange County Weekly

HOUSING

Tear down: There's a house on the market for a little less than $600,000 in San Francisco. Sound too good to be true? It is — the house has been vacated since it was destroyed by a fire in 2000. SFGate

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Eagles legend: Glenn Frey, a founding member of the Eagles, died Monday at age 67. "Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community and millions of fans worldwide," according to a statement from the band. Los Angeles Times

Up in the hills: The lives of Southern California's mountain lions are complex. They're looking for love, making a home and putting their lives on the line to run across Los Angeles' freeways. 60 Minutes

Outsiders' perspectives: Why do so many people dislike Californians? SFGate

New designer: There's a new man in charge of Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs the company's theme parks, cruise lines and resorts. Bob Weis will oversee the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland Resort. Orange County Register

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

It will be rainy and breezy in San Francisco with a high of 58 degrees. Los Angeles could see afternoon showers and a high of 65 degrees. Riverside could see some afternoon showers and a high of 66. San Diego will be mostly cloudy with a high of 66.

AND FINALLY

Today's California Memory comes from Tom Lockhart:

"In the mid-'50s my family would spend Sunday afternoon parked on a hill watching propeller planes land at LAX. A few years later, as a teenager, I would ride my bike to the airport and watch the new jets land and take off from a perch under the jet path. In the mid-'60s, while a student at UCLA, I had a part-time job working for Continental Airlines in airfreight. Now I am retired and living in a high-rise on San Diego Harbor. From my balcony, I watch cruise ships come into port and planes landing and taking off at Lindbergh Field. Life has come full circle."

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.)

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.

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