Newsletter: Essential California: The cost of incarcerating L.A. County’s kids

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Feb. 23. Are you from Los Angeles? This quiz on driving habits should be able to tell. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Probation sticker shock

It costs Los Angeles County more than $233,600 a year to house one youth in juvenile lockup. A new study finds that’s more than what any other jurisdiction spends. Last July, the county’s chief executive was asked to identify why prices are soaring and what can be done to control costs. So far, she has not produced any recommendations. “There is so much waste. And no one pays attention or cares,” said Jacqueline Caster, a member of the L.A. County Probation Commission. Los Angeles Times


Legalizing weed

This may be the year California voters finally legalize marijuana. There are 20 statewide ballot measures on the issue, but only one has emerged as the clear front-runner: the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. It’s backed by former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We were determined that this measure would be the consensus measure on the ballot regarding regulating marijuana … not everyone is going to get what they want,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the campaign. Los Angeles Times

Party affiliation

Republicans now represent 28% of California’s electorate, a drop of three points since 2012, according to new voter data. Roughly a quarter of the state’s voters do not identify with a political party. “New, young registrants are heavily independent and to a lesser extent Democratic, while elderly people are much more likely to be Republican,” said Eric McGhee, an elections researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Los Angeles Times



Weather conditions: It’s expected to be a hot and dry week in Southern California. Many experts expected El Niño to dump rain on the region throughout the first three months of the year. However, that really hasn’t happened since the first week of the year. “If March doesn’t come through, and April and May are typically drier months, we might be out of time by then,” said meteorologist David Sweet. Los Angeles Times

What’s true? PolitiFact takes on several statements about California’s drought and does some truth-squading. PolitiFact


Museum piece: Take an audio tour of the Sheats-Goldstein residence, which was just donated to the L.A. County Museum of Art. NPR

Musician’s home: A visit to Compton to talk with Kendrick Lamar, one of the biggest rappers on today’s music scene. What can the music tell people about gang life in this city? Vice

Neighborhood makeover: Los Angeles officials are trying to give a face-lift to a gritty stretch of Avalon Boulevard in Wilmington. Daily Breeze



All-expenses paid: Could political junkets become a thing of the past? Assemblywoman Patty Lopez introduced a bill that would prohibit nonprofit organizations from paying the travel and lodging expenses of politicians. Will state lawmakers take it upon themselves to cut off the sources of lavish trips around the world? “I think this bill has as much chance of passing as Ben Carson has of getting the nomination for the Republican Party,” said Bob Stern, an author of the state’s Political Reform Act. Sacramento Bee

Visiting professor: President Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, will be at Cal State Sacramento on Thursday to talk about living peacefully in one’s own community. “We all need to feel empowered to have a voice and feel safe,” Soetoro-Ng said. Sacramento Bee

Gun control: A proposed state bill would require all gun sales to be videotaped. Supporters believe the legislation would cut down on “straw purchasers” — people who buy guns for those who can’t pass a background check. Associated Press

Sugar fix: Once again, San Francisco is considering a soda tax. City leaders are taking a cue from Berkeley and asking voters to place a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. Unlike a previous effort to tax soda, the new funds would not be earmarked for any specific program. San Francisco Chronicle


Philosophical becomes personal: The FBI’s quest to unlock a cellphone used by one of the attackers in the Dec. 2 shooting in San Bernardino is being backed by the shooting’s victims and family members. The federal agency is locked in a legal fight with Apple, which argues it must maintain users’ privacy. “Let’s see how you feel when it affects you,” said Ryan Reyes, whose boyfriend was killed in the San Bernardino massacre. Los Angeles Times

Weighing priorities: A new poll found that more than half of Americans say Apple should unlock an iPhone at the center of the escalating battle with the government. But there is a definite generational divide. Los Angeles Times



California vintner: Winemaker Peter Mondavi died Saturday at the age of 101. He was an innovator who led his family’s Charles Krug Winery for more than half a century. Los Angeles Times

Winning strategy: Peggy Siegal is the woman who helps actors and filmmakers win Oscars. “She knows better than anyone that making a great movie is only the first step in winning an Oscar; after that, you’ve got to have a strategy.” Vanity Fair

Back in the day: Here’s what it looked like when Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games in 1932. LAist

White actors: Comedian John Oliver reminds viewers the problem is not just #OscarsSoWhite but white actors who are routinely cast as non-white characters. “That’s right — Jake Gyllenhaal, a white American with a Swedish last name, was cast to play the ‘Prince of Persia’ from, you know, Persia. And he’s far from alone,” Oliver said. Variety


San Diego will be sunny and 79 degrees. Riverside will be sunny and 80. Los Angeles will be sunny and 81. It will be sunny and beautiful in Sacramento, where temperatures will reach 68 degrees. It will be partly sunny and 66 degrees in San Francisco.


Today’s California Memory comes from Douglas Odum:

“In the early ‘60s, growing up in La Puente, we had a short vacation in San Francisco. We only spent a few days there and tried to do as much as possible, but what always stuck with me was watching the boats docking on the original Fisherman’s Wharf, and seeing the crabs go straight from the boat to the pot. We sat there eating fresh crab with the still-warm sourdough bread, also made fresh, there on the wharf. Such a lasting memory from a simpler time.”

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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