Newsletter: Essential California: L.A.’s election results, donations to the Mayor’s Fund, UC’s new residency restrictions


Good morning. It is Wednesday, March 4. The San Diego diocese has a new bishop. Here’s what else is happening today in the Golden State:


Big checks land in Mayor’s Fund for L.A.

Corporations that benefit from what happens at City Hall routinely donate six- and seven-figure checks to a nonprofit that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti established to underwrite civic projects. There are no rules on how much money a group can donate to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. Donations include $1 million from Walt Disney Co. and $100,000 from Wal-Mart. L.A. Times

Election results

Five incumbent members of the Los Angeles City Council cruised to easy victories in Tuesday’s election. The only race to advance to the May runoff will be the election to replace termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge. Two charter amendments that would move city and school board elections to even-numbered years also appeared to pass, based on preliminary ballot counts. Turnout was just 8.6% in the city, though that number will likely increase as provisional and leftover vote-by-mail ballots are counted. L.A. Times


Status quo on skid row: Columnist Steve Lopez revisits the challenges of skid row after Sunday’s shooting and finds that conditions haven’t improved in the 10 years since he first reported on the community. “You keep waiting for someone in authority to show up and say wait a minute, this is not OK. But the only trace of indignation is monetary in nature, not moral. Skid row stands in the way of more gentrification.” L.A. Times

Crackdown on birth hotels: Swarms of federal agents descended on apartment complexes in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties on Tuesday as part of an investigation of suspected maternity tourism,” the widespread practice of foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. solely to give birth. No arrests were made, but Homeland Security and Internal Revenue Service investigators collected evidence and interviewed the mothers to be. L.A. Times

Compton’s cowboys: That is probably not the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of Compton, but it has a long agricultural history. One filmmaker is raising money to tell the story of the city’s African American cowboys, who now focus on gang intervention efforts. Curbed LA

Roadside distractions: An abandoned couch on the side of the road is as common a sight in L.A. as palm trees and food trucks. A photographer who is documenting the city’s leftover love seats says they are representative of the city’s transient (and sometimes poor) population. Los Angeles Magazine


Absentee lawmakers: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) had the best attendance record in the California delegation last year, but three former lawmakers ranked among the worst. Reps. John Campbell (a now-retired Republican from San Diego), Gary Miller (another now-retired Republican from Rancho Cucamonga) and Gloria Negrete McLeod (a Democrat from Montclair who did not seek reelection) were in the top 10 lawmakers who missed votes during the last session. Associated Press

University for Californians? Some out-of-staters will soon be out of luck. The UC system will cap the number of out-of-state students at its Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses after critics said they were taking too many places from California students. During the economic downturn, university officials allowed more non-Californians to enroll because they pay higher tuition. Sacramento Bee

Bullet train news: The chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Dan Richard, address critics’ concerns about the project. That includes questions about cost overruns, outdated technology and inefficient routing. Elsewhere, Tutor Perini, the firm building the first leg of the rail line, is seeking compensation for project delays. The Atlantic, L.A. Times

Classes resume after teacher’s suicide: Students at El Dorado High School returned to class Tuesday, one day after a photography teacher hanged herself in a classroom. Grief counselors will remain at the campus in Placentia through the end of the week. Orange County Register

San Diego’s Mr. Popularity: Mayor Kevin Faulconer is starting his second year in office with a 61% approval rating. “Faulconer has worked hard to address concerns of segments of the public that are not a Republican’s natural allies, most particularly environmentalists, minorities and underserved communities.” San Diego Union-Tribune

Living by the Bay: Home prices in Oakland are on the rise, but they are still half of what you’d pay in San Francisco. SF Gate


For today's Talk Back, preliminary numbers show that voter turnout in Tuesday’s Los Angeles city election was 8.6%. What do you think politicians could do to get more people to the polls? Is there something about the voting system that discourages Angelenos from making their voices heard?

Tell us by tweeting with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or sending us an email: reporter Alice Walton and California Editor Shelby Grad.


The latest financial disclosure forms show that California legislative leaders accepted tens of thousands of dollars in gifts last year, including trips to China, Portugal and Chile, the L.A. Times reports. Other gifts included:

-- Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon: $9,758 to attend a conference in Peru

-- Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen: $5,723 for a study trip to Canada

-- Senate Republican leader Bob Huff: $3,131 to attend a conference in Hawaii

-- Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins: $325 crystal paperweight from the president of Mexico

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.