Newsletter: Essential California: Will California’s primary matter this year?

Good morning. It is Monday, Feb. 1. Fentons Creamery of Oakland is offering up a very special sundae in honor of Super Bowl Sunday. It includes 12 scoops of ice cream in an Oreo cookie bowl with hot fudge, whipped cream and cherries on top. The $50 treat serves five to 10 adults. Yum! Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Living in fear

With her former husband on the run, Cortney Shegerian feared for her life. It was her information and cooperation that had landed Hossein Nayeri in jail. Now, he had escaped from Orange County and was on the run. “As the manhunt dragged on, authorities were convinced that if Nayeri remained in California, it was to stalk and kill her. Her lawyers, and the district attorney’s office, implored the media not to mention her name, for fear of inflaming him.” Los Angeles Times


Young gamblers

Casinos across Southern California are in the midst of major expansions. They are desperately trying to lure millennials, as their most loyal customer base -- baby boomers -- begins to fade. But younger generations seem less interested in gambling. Los Angeles Times

Political wife

Before she was a candidate’s wife, Heidi Cruz was a Claremont McKenna College undergraduate who was known as ambitious, driven and bright. Now she’s Sen. Ted Cruz’s not-so-secret weapon. “She is very much a 21st century political spouse,” said John Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont. Los Angeles Times


Loose sands

Residents in Pacifica have reason to fear El Niño. The land around their homes is coming loose. “The beach used to go way out there. I feel like we’re living on borrowed time,” said one homeowner. Los Angeles Times


Wind and rain: El Niño finally returned to Southern California -- for a day at least. It brought some intense downpours, but the big story was the winds. Gusts topping 50 mph hit the L.A. basin with readings topping 80 mph in some mountain areas. Los Angeles Times


Weather patterns: So why has El Niño hit Northern California so much harder than Southern California -- at least so far? Blame masses of high pressure sitting southwest of California, and on top of Southern California and Nevada, which repel storms. Los Angeles Times

Expensive nuts: The price of almonds is dropping. Farmers blame years of rising prices that prompted some chefs to turn to other nuts for their recipes. Then there’s the weakening economics of key markets like China. “While no one’s predicting a major shift away from almonds, some experts say the decline in prices could bring a pause in the relentless planting that has seen almond acreage grow 50 percent in the past decade.” Sacramento Bee


Local writer: He’s 99 years old and still looking for stories about the San Gabriel Valley. Meet “The Flower Drum Song” writer C.Y. Lee. Los Angeles Times


Top-notch invite: First Cedrick Argueta got a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Then he got an invitation to the White House from President Obama. Los Angeles Times

Donated to science: There is a new movement among Korean immigrants in Los Angeles to change their community’s perspective on death and donate their bodies to medical research. Los Angeles Times

Missing documents: When longtime L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge left office, he says no one told him what to do with his files -- so most, if not all, were marked for destruction. Now, the missing files are becoming an issue in a legal battle over a Sherman Oaks development. “Los Angeles city rules also set forth how long its departments are supposed to hold on to different kinds of records, stating that most must be retained for at least two years. But City Clerk Holly Wolcott said there is no standard way that council members are supposed to handle their files when they leave office.” Los Angeles Times

New city: One state senator wants to change the City of Industry. “My ultimate goal is to make sure they have a voter base that is not influenced by any one individual or any one entity, so they can govern appropriately and, more importantly, they can do what is in the best interest of the city,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez. Daily News



Primary importance: The presidential campaign has been so crazy thus far that California’s primary could matter for the first time in decades -- particularly when it comes to the Republican candidates. There are 2,286 GOP delegates. California has 172 of them -- more than the first four nominating states combined. San Jose Mercury-News

Environmental details: Riverside city officials say they need more information from state regulators about possible contamination at a former sewer plant. The plant at Jurupa and Rutland avenues closed in 1965, but a 2003 sewage sludge spill revealed the ground still had cancer-causing chemicals. “The way this has been handled has been confusing and has actually done more to amplify fears,” said Riverside City Manager John Russo. The Riverside Press-Enterprise

California’s GOP: Without Donald Trump on stage, there was a lot for California Republicans to like at the most recent GOP presidential debate, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. “There were candidates — Jeb Bush and John Kasich particularly — who spoke of embracing disparate groups, of their support for immigrants and the misbegotten. For a while, it was almost as if they wanted to talk to the majority of Republicans in the nation’s biggest state,” she writes. Los Angeles Times



Putting it together: There is still a lot unknown about how the Orange County jail inmates managed to escape. Authorities arrested an instructor who taught an English-as-a-second-language class at the jail, accusing her of helping with the plot by providing a Google Maps view of the Men’s Central Jail. But it’s unclear how the inmates got the tools officials suspect they’d need to flee. Los Angeles Times

The escape: A closer look at how the jailbreak happened. Orange County Register

Deadly bombing: How a stolen necklace became a key element of a deadly firebombing in the San Gabriel Valley. Pasadena Star-News



Billionaires’ Row: Nob Hill in San Francisco has always been ritzy. In this tech boom, it’s becoming known as “Billionaires’ Row” with a mix of old and new money, including Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison and Apple design genius Jony Ive. Business Insider

End of an era? Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully hopes to end his broadcasting career by calling the Dodgers vs. Giants game in October. The two teams were rivals long before they made the move from New York to California -- just like Vin Scully. Los Angeles Times

Hollywood hate: Someone drew a swastika on Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “I’ve never seen this kind of hate put on a star before, not even Bill Cosby,” said Batman, otherwise known as actor Austin Franklin. The Wrap



San Francisco will be sunny and 55. Riverside will be sunny and windy with a high of 57 degrees. In Los Angeles, it will be mostly sunny and windy with a high of 58. San Diego will be sunny and windy with temperatures reaching 61 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (Feb. 4, 1971) and boxer Oscar De La Hoya (Feb. 4, 1973).

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.