Essential California: L.A. pays millions to wrongfully imprisoned men

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Jan. 20. Animal control officers keep getting called out to a San Jose home on reports of a bobcat. It turns out neighbors aren't seeing a wild animal but rather a 27-pound Maine Coon cat named Spock, who enjoys opening doors and watching YouTube videos. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Legal settlements

Two men who were released from prison after they were wrongfully convicted of murder will receive $24 million from the city of Los Angeles. Kash Delano Register spent 34 years behind bars, while Bruce Lisker was jailed for 26 years for the murder of his mother. Both men were released after attorneys successfully argued that the LAPD had bungled their investigations. "Today's action helps make amends for the many years these men will never get back, and for lives that will never be the same," according to a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer. Los Angeles Times

Serious allegations

Yogi Bikram Choudhury took to the witness stand this week to deny allegations that he sexually assaulted or harassed women who were his devoted followers. Choudhury spent 40 years building an empire based on yoga postures done in a room where temperatures reach 104 degrees. "Big lies" is how the yogi explained the allegations against him. Los Angeles Times


Rainy day: The Bay Area flooded Tuesday as rainstorms poured down during the morning commute. Power lines came down in Berkeley and a rock slide closed Niles Canyon Road in Fremont. SFGate


Contracting practices: The city of Los Angeles plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on body cameras for police officers, but rather than go through a bidding process from scratch, city officials want to "piggyback" on a contract from Kern County. The move has prompted complaints from technology companies that say they were not given the opportunity to compete against Taser International. One member of the Police Commission says those concerns are just "sour grapes" from losing firms. Los Angeles Times

Slow days: Times are tough for businesses in Porter Ranch. Children are leaving school, patients are transferring their prescriptions, and people are forgoing luxuries like having their hair and nails done. Business owners blame the natural gas leak in nearby Aliso Canyon. "I could take out a loan, but who will pay it off for me?" said the manager at a nail salon. Los Angeles Times

New to Watts: The Internet is going crazy for the new restaurant from chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson. Locol will try to make its market in "fast-food central," also known as Watts. Los Angeles Times


On time train: State Sen. Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate's transportation committee, plans to hold hearings on the management and oversight of the state's proposed bullet train. He wants to speed up the construction schedule as a way to cut down costs. "Don't doubt that we will instill some fiscal oversight of the high speed rail," he said. Los Angeles Times

Dangerous conditions: Deaths in Orange County's homeless population jumped between 2013 and 2015, according to records obtained from the coroner's office. Last year, 181 homeless men and women died — not including people the coroner was unable to identify. Natural causes and accidents, whether a drug overdose or traffic collision, were the leading causes of death. 89.3 KPCC

On the hook: The city of San Francisco will pay $4.8 million to host pre-Super Bowl festivities. Some supervisors see that as a public subsidy and they want the Super Bowl Host Committee to cover the costs — something it's already doing for the city of Santa Clara, where the big game will be played. SF Weekly


Cramped quarters: Fresno is the first city in the nation to regulate tiny homes on wheels, even though it's not really a hub for the new type of development. However, the city is home to California Tiny House, which builds custom tiny homes for customers throughout the state. KQED


High crime: Market Street between 4th and 5th streets generates the most crime reports of any block in San Francisco. Last year, this one block generated at least 1,400 police reports. "You can get there on public transit easily, you can get away pretty quickly, the large crowds permit a level of anonymity where property crimes flourish, and the victims are preoccupied," said UC Berkeley criminologist Barry Krisberg. SFGate

Man arrested: A 21-year-old Vista man was arrested in the killing of a 17-year-old girl who was shot during a botched robbery attempt in Marina del Rey, police said. Kristine Carman, who was visiting from Houston, was struck multiple times while sitting in a car. Los Angeles Times


Hollywood's diversity: What does it matter that the nominees for this year's Academy Awards ceremony are overwhelmingly white and male? "Because it's time — it's beyond time — that we stopped limiting ourselves to the same sorts of stories, the same sorts of characters and then reinforcing those limitations year after year after year," writes critic Mary McNamara. Los Angeles Times



Ram it: Now that the Rams are headed back to Southern California, musician Elton John has recorded a cover of the 1986 jam "Let's Ram it." "Do you know how to ram it?" On Air with Ryan Seacrest

Noses in the air: Six of America's snobbiest cities are in California, according to a survey from a real estate blog. Topping the list was Pasadena. Somehow Glendale and Fullerton also made the cut. Travelers Today

On my own: Why would someone leave the cushy confines of Google? Because independent coders can make twice the money if they freelance. "I'd rather control my own destiny and take on the risk and forgo the benefits of nap pods and food," said one ex-Googler. Bloomberg

East Coast vs. West Coast: Here are the nine similarities between New York and Los Angeles. LA Weekly


Los Angeles will have clouds and sun with a high of 67 degrees. San Diego will have sun and a high of 66. In Riverside, clouds will give way to sunshine and a high of 68 degrees. It will be cloudy and 57 degrees in San Francisco.


Today's California Memory comes from David Wassenaar:

"When I was dating my wife, I came to visit Southern California for the first time. She lived in Redlands and picked me up from the Ontario Airport. I was from Michigan, and seeing the San Bernardino Mountains the first time was quite a thrill. Since it was summer, she took me to the beach in Newport and then up to my still favorite view of the Pacific and Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar. Little did I know then in 1970 that we would be sailing for many years out of that lovely harbor. To make a long story short, we were married in 1970 and spent our honeymoon traveling PCH and the 101 up to San Francisco and on to camping in Yosemite. Wow, did I fall in love with her and my state of California!"

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.