Essential California: Governor takes on prison reform

Good morning. It is Thursday, Jan. 28. A stretch of Elysian Park Avenue outside Dodger Stadium could soon be renamed in honor of Vin Scully, the longtime voice of the Dodgers. He's been with the team for 66 seasons. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Prison reform

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a ballot measure that could provide non-violent offenders with the chance for early release. It would also allow judges, rather than prosecutors, to decide whether felons as young as 14 should be tried as adults or juveniles. "By allowing parole consideration if they do good things they will then have an incentive … to show those who will be judging whether or not they're ready to go back into society," Brown said. The governor has about $24 million in old campaign funds that he can use to promote the measure to voters. Los Angeles Times

Shutting it down

The California Public Utilities Commission wants to know what would happen if the natural gas storage field in Aliso Canyon were to be shut down. It's asking the Southern California Gas Co. whether there are alternative sites and delivery mechanisms that could be used should the field be shut down, something many Porter Ranch residents have called for since a leak was reported in October. "If it is feasible, it ought to be shut down — but I'm not holding my breath. That's because they've created a facility that is literally too big to fail," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Porter Ranch). Los Angeles Times

Grocery store wars

It took the city of Los Angeles 10 years to lure a grocery store to South L.A., and even then it came with the promise of a two-acre site for $1 along with $750,000 in federal funds. The deal looked to be as good as done until city leaders demanded Numero Uno officials change the look and orientation of the development. The grocery chain walked away from the deal, leaving the land at 94th and Broadway vacant. Los Angeles Times


Making progress: California's snowpack is the deepest it has been in five years. Measurements put the snow in the Sierra Nevada at 18.7 inches Tuesday. It will have to be significantly more than 28 inches deep by April 1 to have a significant impact on the state's drought. Los Angeles Times


Environmental justice: Local and state politicians are pressuring the Brown Administration to step up the cleanup around a closed battery recycling plant in Vernon. The soil around the Exide Plant is contaminated with lead. "We don't want to send the wrong message. That if you live ... in Porter Ranch that you're more important than the folks that live in East ... or Southeast Los Angeles," said Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park). Los Angeles Times

Homeless count: Volunteers are fanning out to count Los Angeles County's homeless population. They're to look at appearance, behavior and condition to determine if someone is living on the streets or in a car. "It's OK if you don't find anyone. It's as important to know where they aren't as where they are," said one organizer. Los Angeles Times

Political ambitions: The founder of the Green Dot Charter Schools is considering a run against incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2017. Steve Barr says he's frustrated by what he perceives as the mayor's lack of interest in public education. "It seems I've talked to at least a half-dozen people who will tell you he won't get involved because it's too controversial," Barr said. Los Angeles Times


Keeping up appearances: Is San Francisco hiding its homeless population so the city looks good for the Super Bowl? Men and women living along Division Street say police have been actively corralling them there. "We know individual police officers are telling people they gotta go because of the Super Bowl," said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director at the Coalition on Homelessness. Fusion



No charges: Los Angeles police officers who shot at two women delivering newspapers after mistaking them for murderous ex-cop Christopher Dorner will not be prosecuted. The county district attorney's office found the actions were not criminal, though "the barrage of gunfire was tremendous, and troubling." The city earlier paid the women $4.2 million and bought them a new pickup. Los Angeles Times

Missing gun: Have you seen an AR-15 assault rifle in Orange County? A sheriff's deputy lost it Tuesday night after he left it on the lid of his trunk and drove off. He didn't realize the weapon was gone until about 3:15 am. Wednesday. "The rifle is described as a black, semiautomatic, .223-caliber Colt AR-15. It was inside a black nylon rifle bag along with three loaded magazines." Los Angeles Times

Code four: Police declined to take a report when they responded to calls that Blake Griffin had punched Clippers assistant equipment manager Matias Testi in Toronto, saying they were satisfied with the men's description of what happened. The scuffle left Griffin with a broken hand and Testi with a swollen face. Los Angeles Times

Two thumbs down: Los Angeles city prosecutors are going after a cleaning service that allegedly overcharged customers who left negative reviews on Yelp. The owner of West Coast Maids and California Maids is accused of calling customers and requesting that they delete their negative reviews in exchange for a refund. Those who refused were billed twice. Associated Press



In the desert: Where California, Arizona and Nevada meet is where you'll find Needles, a town decimated by the economic collapse of 2008. "The forces behind the decay of my hometown are entirely, depressingly common, and they have refashioned countless hometowns, and countless lives, throughout the past 20 years — indeed, throughout the 500-year history of capitalism." KCET

Do I need a jacket? Are these pathetic? Perhaps, but they're also true. It's 29 sentences you'll hear only in Los Angeles. BuzzFeed


San Francisco will have some sun and a high of 59 degrees. Los Angeles will be sunny and 74. San Diego will have sunshine and a high of 68 degrees. Riverside can expect sun and a high of 76.


Today's California Memory comes from Joc Anderson:

"In the mid 1950s, when I was 7 years old, my parents moved from the Mission district of San Francisco to Southern California, specifically, Gardena. Speaking of cultural shock, we were told Gardena is a farming community of strawberry fields. Tasting strawberry milkshake for the first time hooked me forever. Whenever I hear the Beatles sing 'strawberry fields forever' it's time for my favorite shake!"

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.