Newsletter: Essential California: Who benefited from turf rebates?

Good morning. It is Saturday, Feb. 27. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Picking a side: Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who also is running for the U.S. Senate, is taking the side of Apple as it fights a court order to help the FBI unlock a phone used by one of the shooters in the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terrorist attack. “If we can order Apple to create a backdoor, what happens when China does the same?” she said. Los Angeles Times

New trial: A man who was convicted twice of a double murder will get a new trial. Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals believes Henry Rodriguez deserves a new trial because Orange County prosecutors did not disclose that a key witness in his 2006 trial was a jailhouse informant. It’s the latest case to fall apart over the use of jailhouse snitches. Orange County Register


Necessary relationship: Almond farmers need two beehives for each acre of land, but the bee business is in decline. As a result, farmers are willing to pay a hefty price — as much as $180 — to rent a hive for a couple of weeks, writes columnist Robin Abcarian. “Bees are livestock. It’s like owning a dairy. A lot of work,” said one grower. Los Angeles Times

Customers revealed: The Metropolitan Water District will release the names and addresses of customers who received rebates to tear out their lawns. The decision caps a seven-month legal battle as the L.A. Department of Water and Power and other water agencies sought to keep the information private. For now, details belonging to police officers and prosecutors will remain confidential. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant found the public’s interest in knowing how many millions in tax dollars were spent outweighed customers’ privacy. Los Angeles Times

Be in the moment: Put the phone away. Here are 10 L.A. spots you need to stop posting on Instagram. LA Weekly

Unicorn on the run: It took officers in the Central Valley several hours to track down an escaped unicorn. Initially authorities thought the report “might be somebody out there on drugs, seeing things. It was a little unreal to hear calls of a unicorn running around on the roadway,” said CHP spokesman Josh McConnell. Juliet, a 600-pound Shetland pony with a prosthetic horn, ultimately made it home safely and was not cited. Los Angeles Times



1. These maps show how L.A.’s public transit system transformed from 1990 to today and what it could look like in 25 more years. Los Angeles Magazine

2. These habits are native to the L.A. driver. BuzzFeed

3. Los Angeles is having a moment with breakfast. And chefs are moving beyond eggs, ham and sausage for the most important meal of the day. New York Times

4. A look back at scenes of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. LAist

5. It took six weeks for this flash mob to perfect its performance for the Ferry Building in San Francisco. KQED


The account of Nat Turner: Who has the moral authority to talk about the experience of slavery? That question is central to the works of an African American director and a white writer whose efforts were separated by 50 years. Los Angeles Times


Tied together: It’s the most unlikely of bonds: hostage and captor. But that’s what’s happened with Long Ma and one of the men who held him captive after escaping from an Orange County jail. “Even though he held a gun to my chest and threatened my life … he must have been under a lot of pressure. He made wrong decisions until he saw the truth,” Ma said of Bac Duong, who is back behind bars. Los Angeles Times

Showing gratitude: For one victim of the San Bernardino terror attack, showing gratitude is the most difficult part of her recovery. Julie Swann-Paez was shot twice in the pelvis and now relies on her husband to help her with even the simplest task, like turning over in bed. “I can’t figure out how to tell people how thankful I am,” she said. Los Angeles Times

Lingering questions: It’s been two weeks since the Coastal Commission fired its executive director Charles Lester, and columnist Steve Lopez still has a lot of questions. “With a raft of gigantic, controversial projects coming before the commission in coming months, what’s the plan to put back the pieces, rescue the demoralized and leaderless staff and find a replacement for Charles Lester?” he writes. Los Angeles Times


Monday: The Pretend City Children’s Museum will host a birthday celebration for kids with Leap Year birthdays.

Tuesday: Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden will sign copies of his new book at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.

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.