Newsletter: Essential California: Questioning safety of California’s food chain

Good morning. It is Monday, May 4. Here's what’s happening in the Golden State:



Safety of food chain

Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of water everyday and sells it to farmers in Kern County. That practice is getting more attention as the state’s drought drags on and now there are questions about the safety of such a practice. “No one knows whether nuts, citrus or other crops grown with the recycled oil field water have been contaminated.” Los Angeles Times


Hospital to reopen

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital will reopen in June, and its emergency room could open this summer, but some are asking whether patients will want to return to the hospital that was once known as “Killer King.” Los Angeles Times

Food fight

A Los Angeles-based charter school awarded a food contract to a firm partially owned by one of its own employees. The contract was discovered by a state investigation, and that employee is no longer with the PUC Schools. Los Angeles Times



Golf courses: Golf courses in the Coachella Valley must cut their water usage 25%. However, compliance will be based on the honor system. Los Angeles Times

Water storage: The debate is over how best to store water. State Republicans want to see more dams and reservoirs, but some Democrats believe above-ground storage “is a dinosaur.” U-T San Diego

Go fish: The ongoing drought could soon affect which fish shows up on your dinner plate. Fish farms are having to rely on warmer water, which is more hospitable to catfish, Sacramento perch and Sacramento blackfish. Sacramento Bee



New dtla: One developer is transforming the downtown skyline with the $1-billion Metropolis complex -- she is I Fei Chang, a Taiwan native who was educated at Yale and now works for a China-based firm. Los Angeles Times

Free political advice: Columnist Steve Lopez takes Mayor Eric Garcetti to task for rarely speaking out on major issues facing the city. He also questions why the mayor didn’t have a bigger reaction to the news that two trusts set up by the DWP were used to finance lavish trips and steak dinners. “The mayor should have climbed the City Hall tower on Thursday afternoon, grabbed a megaphone and vowed to keep pounding away until those nonprofits are crushed,” Lopez writes. Los Angeles Times

Angry over audits: On the subject of those trusts, the DWP’s general manager is now in the curious position of siding with the utility's labor boss is blasting the audits that found money for safety and training programs was used on trips, vehicles and meals. The audits were “littered with accusatory innuendo and peppered with contradictory statements,” Marcie Edwards and Brian D’Arcy wrote in a letter. Los Angeles Times



Campaign donations: The billionaires are overshadowing the millionaires when it comes to political donations. That’s what Hollywood’s bundlers are learning this presidential cycle. Politico

Fire Department lawsuits: Six years ago, an independent assessor was brought into the Fire Department to reduce the number of discrimination lawsuits filed against the LAFD. However, the assessor himself got caught up in discrimination lawsuits with three city lawyers. Now, there could be costly consequences for the city. Los Angeles Times

Electing women: One reason why more women are not in elected office may be because of the challenges that come with balancing public life with a young family, writes Cathleen Decker. She looks at Laura Burton Capps, who was widely expected to run for her mother’s Santa Barbara congressional seat but opted not to because of her 4-year-old son. Los Angeles Times

Violent protests: Community leaders are split over the way Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf responded to violent May Day protests that broke out Friday night. “In Oakland, the way a mayor handles large protests has become a critical test of leadership. And on Saturday, dozens of merchants and bank managers were left angry and frustrated, facing thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.” SF Gate



Changing the tide: State and federal leaders are turning to the police chief in Richmond to see what he did to turn around a department that was once known for racism and ruthlessness. “Community mistrust has gradually given way to collaboration, thanks to deepening bonds between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.” Los Angeles Times

Posting bail: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. won his fight Saturday night, and that means rap mogul Suge Knight might soon be a winner too. Before the fight, Mayweather said that if he won, he would bail the Death Row records co-founder, who is facing murder and attempted murder charges, out of jail. His bail is $10 million. Los Angeles Times

Invisible problem: Human trafficking is an Orange County problem that often goes unnoticed. Between 2012 and 2013, there were 78 reported cases. “Most were lured from overseas with temporary work visas and promises of good pay and working conditions, only to arrive and discover the opposite.” Orange County Register

Medical trials: Wax is the next big thing in medical marijuana, but no one knows if it’s safe. “Several pot-shop owners in California, where selling BHO is legal but making it is not, told BuzzFeed News that it now accounts for about 40% of sales.”  Buzzfeed, California Sunday Magazine



Haunted stay: The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose will soon accept overnight guests. The haunted house also has a permit for a restaurant and alcohol. SFist

Left Coast: New Yorkers continue to discover that L.A. isn’t so bad. “The New Yorker is always going to be a nonnative species in Los Angeles, which has its own status codes, its own rhythms, its own body language.” The New York Times



Is there something we missed in today’s Essential California? Drop us a line and we’ll include your link (and a credit) in tomorrow’s edition. Share your thoughts with us on Twitter with the tag #EssentialCalifornia or send us an email: Alice Walton and Shelby Grad.



Be careful in San Diego and Los Angeles, where a high surf advisory will remain in effect until Tuesday night.

San Diego will be mostly cloudy with temperatures in the high 60s. Los Angeles will also be in the high 60s with a chance of drizzle. San Francisco will be mostly cloudy and in the mid-50s today.



Shake, shake, shake: A magnitude 3.8 earthquake woke up some Angelenos on Sunday at 4:07 a.m. Not quite 12 hours later, the Bay Area had a 4.0 earthquake, whose epicenter was a mile from Concord.


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.