Essential California: Jailbreak in Orange County

Good morning. It is Monday, Jan. 25. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:



Bold jailbreak

Authorities are continuing the manhunt for three inmates who made a dramatic escape from the Orange County Central Men’s Jail. The men cut through metal bars and used bedsheets to rappel down the sides of the building. “I can tell you that this is a very sophisticated-looking operation. People in jail have a lot of time to sit around and think about ways to defeat our systems,” said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. The men are violent and believed to be armed, she said. Los Angeles Times

Environmental impact

Long after crews repair the leaking gas well in Aliso Canyon, the methane that’s escaped will remain in the atmosphere and continue to damage the environment, experts say. “It's really moving us in the wrong direction," said Jorn Herner, chief of research planning, administration and emissions mitigation at the state Air Resources Board. Los Angeles Times 


Dangerous conditions: Pacifica is in a state of emergency, where officials are concerned that El Niño rains will erode the coastal bluffs. “El Niño is hitting the city’s coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property,” according to the city manager. SF Gate

Taxable income: Southern Californians who used rebates to rip out their lawns last year can expect to get a tax form in the mail. Officials with the Metropolitan Water District don’t know whether the rebate is taxable, but they’re sending out 1099 forms and leaving it up to the customers and their accountants. “As of this point, it's kind of an unfortunate gray area in terms of tax code,” according to an MWD manager. Los Angeles Times 


Good deed: The Girl Scouts are about a lot more than cookies. One 16-year-old took it upon herself to build a basketball court at a transitional apartment complex for women and children escaping domestic violence. “She initially did it to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, that organization's highest honor, but eventually reaped far greater riches, restoring faith in adults skeptical of a teen's determination and hope in kids who didn't have a place to play,” writes columnist Bill Plaschke. Los Angeles Times 

Protect yourself: Los Angeles County has some of the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the country. It’s unclear why that’s the case, though some public health officials blame dating apps, which they say lead to more casual sex among young adults. Some organizations believe that mail-order STD tests could help reduce the rate of infection. Los Angeles Times 

Side work: Driving for Lyft or Uber has replaced waitressing and bartending as the side job of wannabe actors in Los Angeles. “The trunks of their cars are littered with screenplays from previous auditions. Taped on their dashboards are photographs of their dogs, who are invariably named after their favorite on-screen protagonists.” New York Times


Political identity: In South Los Angeles, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson must build relationships with the Latino community if he doesn’t want to risk being the district’s last African American councilman. The greatest challenge there is serving two populations that often find themselves on opposite sides of an issue. “The friction starts when you get into the details of how people live and what they are doing,” said former Councilman Bernard Parks. Los Angeles Times

Bike safety: In Orange County, the number of cyclists killed by automobiles is on the rise. The jump comes even as cities are building new bicycle lanes and advocating to get people out of their cars. “We drive while sipping coffee, eating fries, texting and watching videos and forget to look for anything other than motor vehicles on the road. Yet we advocate for clean air, healthy lifestyles, less traffic.” Orange County Register

Police oversight: How will the panel that oversees the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department differ from the one that guides the Los Angeles Police Department? Its members will have to use persuasion and public opinion to make a difference. “I think we’ve seen the abuses that occur in the Sheriff’s Department or Police Department. These are abuses that affect people’s lives and liberties. It’s so crucial that there be oversight,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine School of Law. Daily News


Extradition process: A La Cañada Flintridge man accused of killing his two nephews in Arcadia is expected to appear in a Hong Kong court today. Deyun Shi is expected to decline consent to extradition, which could grow more complicated if American prosecutors pursue the death penalty. Los Angeles Times

Inside job: Here are photographs from inside the Orange County Central Men’s Jail, where three inmates were able to make an escape. Los Angeles Times

Gathering evidence: Media mogul Sumner Redstone will undergo an hourlong examination by a psychiatrist as part of an ongoing legal dispute over the 92-year-old’s mental competency. So far, Redstone has avoided giving a deposition in the case. Los Angeles Times

Bribery allegations: A former member of the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco was charged with bribery and money laundering after allegedly seeking bribes for access to the city’s mayor and district attorney. Nazly Mohajer and former staffer Zula Jones are accused of taking $20,000 from an undercover FBI agent involved with the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case. SF Gate

Showing support: A photo gallery of “SB Strong.” San Bernardino Sun


Restaurant review: Food critic Jonathan Gold’s take on Locol, the new spot from chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson in Watts. “Locol isn't in an area completely devoid of options … but there is nothing like a supermarket within Watts proper, and it is much easier to grab a pack of Top Ramen at the convenience store than it is to prepare or find a proper meal,” he writes. Los Angeles Times

David vs. Goliath: This Boston-based attorney is taking on Silicon Valley’s technology firms over accusations of ripping off “the little guy.” “In the lawsuits (Shannon Liss-Riordan) filed against Uber, Lyft, food-delivery companies DoorDash and GrubHub, and on-demand laundry service Washio, she alleges that these firms exert the kind of control that employers would have over employees — without providing any of the benefits employees, by law, are entitled to.” Los Angeles Times


Old days: A photo gallery of Bunker Hill’s Victorian homes in their dilapidated glory before they were torn down to make way for skyscrapers. LAist

Of cows and cons: How was one man able to allegedly dupe farmers in the Central Valley out of millions of dollars? “Locals were so embarrassed about how badly they’d been taken by Arno Smit that, for a time, most of them didn’t speak about it, even to one another. Their sheepishness meant the extent of his fraudulent activity in the Central Valley wasn’t fully appreciated until after he’d left — until an investigator named Rocky Pipkin came along.” California Sunday Magazine

Music lesson: There’s a new musical in Boyle Heights. The show was inspired by one of the most influential groups to come out of the Eastside Sound. Eastsider LA


Riverside will be sunny with a high of 68. In Los Angeles, it will be mostly sunny and 69 degrees. San Diego will be sunny and 65. San Francisco may see a morning shower before the sun comes out and temperatures reach 57.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Jan. 26, 1958), former L.A. Kings player Wayne Gretzky (Jan. 26, 1961), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Jan. 26, 1965) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (Jan. 28, 1969).

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.