Newsletter: Essential California: LAPD officer charged, tiered water rates tossed

Good morning. It is Tuesday, April 21. Congratulations to Los Angeles Times writers Diana Marcum and Mary McNamara, who each won a Pulitzer Prize Monday. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Cop faces charges

A Los Angeles police officer was charged with assault under the color of authority for allegedly kicking a suspect while he was held down by other officers. The October 2014 beating was captured on film by a private security camera. Officer Richard Garcia pleaded not guilty. Los Angeles Times

Challenging water rates

A tiered water rate structure used by San Juan Capistrano to encourage conservation is unconstitutional, according to a state appeals court. The case could have major implications as two-thirds of the state’s water agencies use similar pricing strategies. The court determined the structure violated Proposition 218, which prohibits agencies from charging more for a service than it costs to provide. Los Angeles Times



Responding to a crisis: In Los Angeles, there are 250 people -- all volunteers -- who go to crime scenes and comfort victims’ families. They’re part of the city’s Crisis Response Team. “We’re dealing with people at the worst moment of their lives,” “ according to the team’s director. Los Angeles Times

Rebuilding the Da Vinci: Developer Geoff Palmer is rebuilding part of the Da Vinci apartment complex that was set on fire last year. The massive inferno completely destroyed the building. The construction, which will be covered by insurance, is expected to take 10 months. Downtown News

L.A.’s city budget: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed city budget includes funding for anti-gang programs and teams that can respond to domestic violence calls. The $8.57 billion-spending plan also includes funds to install more trash cans and clean up public bathrooms in city parks. Los Angeles Times

Attorney took on LAPD: An attorney who challenged the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of chokeholds in the 1980s died Friday. For a time, Michael R. Mitchell worked with attorney Johnnie Cochran. In one court appearance, the two men went so far as to have Mitchell demonstrate a chokehold on Cochran. Los Angeles Times



Drought pipeline: Actor William Shatner believes he can solve California’s drought with a $30-billion Kickstarter campaign to build a pipeline from Seattle to Southern California. It’s not a new idea. Politicians proposed taking water from the Pacific Northwest during droughts in 1977 and 1990. Los Angeles Times

Understanding the drought: One writer found everything he thought about the California drought was wrong, from almonds to conservation. Grist

Mythology of Los Angeles: Will the drought push Los Angeles to truly be a green, sustainable city? “What makes the developments in L.A. that much more remarkable, though, is that it’s … L.A. Observing them is sort of like seeing a guy get out of his Hummer and carry his reusable canvas bags into the grocery store.” Slate



Transgender restrooms: A proposed state initiative would prevent transgender men and women from using single-sex restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The Personal Privacy Protection Act would apply to restrooms, locker rooms and showers. Buzzfeed



More body cameras: The sheriff in San Bernardino County says he will take his time in evaluating the best way to equip deputies with body cameras. His comments follow the videotaped beating of a man in Apple Valley. “I don’t want to jump into something and find out a few months down the road we made the wrong decision in haste,” said Sheriff John McMahon. San Bernardino Sun

Changing mentalities: In Santa Ana, community organizers are working to implement programs that reduce the likelihood that a young Latino man will interact with law enforcement. “Known as restorative justice, it’s being used in schools across the state to create accountability and unity through community building circles – a model that traces its roots to indigenous societies.” Orange County Register

Road rage: A cyclist suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone after he was run over by an Uber driver in San Francisco. Police say problems began when the 45-year-old cyclist pulled up to the passenger side of the Uber car and started banging on the windows. SF Gate



New entertainment studio: Former Walt Disney studio chairman Dick Cook has launched a new Los Angeles-based entertainment company that will create family-oriented movies and television shows. The company has $150 million in funding from a Chinese investment group. Los Angeles Times



Show some appreciation: An appreciation of former UCLA and Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a sometimes misunderstood athlete who is much more than an exceptionally tall athlete. “We have in our Los Angeles midst, hopefully for many more years, a 7-2 former giant of athletic skills and a 7-2 current icon of social thought and action,” writes Bill Dwyre. Los Angeles Times

Lost love: A Glendale man is offering a $2,000 reward for the return of a suitcase full of love letters his father sent his mother in the 1950s. When burglars broke into the home of 80-year-old Rosaleen Rickerby, they not only took the love letters but her late husband’s wedding ring and gifts he had given her over the years. Los Angeles Times

Fast ride: Take a ride with race car driver Mario Andretti as he does laps at the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach. Los Angeles Times

California is so over: That’s according to writer Joel Kotkin. “Like medieval peasants, millions of Californians have been forced to submit to the theology of our elected high priest and his acolytes, leaving behind any aspirations that the Golden State can work for them too.” Daily Beast



In today’s Talk Back, a Los Angeles Times editorial urges support for a state bill that would mandate vaccinations for children. The bill would take away the existing “personal belief” exemption. On the other side are parents who believe immunizations could lead to other medical problems.

What is the state’s role in mandating and regulating vaccinations?  Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



Happy birthday to John Muir. He was born on this day in 1838. Muir founded the Sierra Club, and is credited with preserving Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park. 


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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