Newsletter: Essential California: The fight for $15 an hour, unraveling an oil spill, a mother’s anguish

Good morning. It is Thursday, June 4. The man who brought you the Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger will introduce a lighter option at the San Diego County Fair beginning Friday. It’s a SlimFast bar -- that’s been covered in pancake batter, fried and topped with powdered sugar and chocolate. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Investigation into oil spill

Corrosion had significantly damaged a pipeline before it exploded two weeks ago and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of oil along the Santa Barbara Coast. Preliminary findings show that the spot where the pipe wall broke had degraded to just 1/16 of an inch. Los Angeles Times

Uncertain future on wages

Los Angeles will see its minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2020, but the City Council’s approval Wednesday came with a lot of uncertainty. Among the details to be hashed out are whether unions should be exempt from the law and whether employees should be given paid leave beyond what the state requires. Los Angeles Times 



Inspiration from the past: As the drought continues, Gov. Jerry Brown is increasingly looking to the past for guidance, writes George Skelton. "I think it is very good to channel our forebears, who had a much tougher life with a lot less reward, a lot less little pleasures," Brown said. "It was work and work all the time. But they built it.... And so it's our destiny and our duty to build on it." Los Angeles Times 

Get used to ugly fruit: That's from peach farmer David Masumoto, who says consumers should be aware of the water that growers waste by trying to pump up the size of peaches, strawberries and grapes for cosmetic reasons. Los Angeles Times 

Audacity of crisis: What if this drought pushed Californians to take on new water reforms with the same audacity as the characters in "Chinatown"? That’s the thought from one USC professor. "Even better than talking about water is voting about it, either with pocketbooks (yanking out grass, cutting water bills or changing water pricing structures) or with consciousness sprung from recognition of aridity and limitations." Politico

Misplaced criticism: Poor Oprah! Twitter users have drought-shamed her for having a nice lawn in Montecito. And some observers have called out Kanye West, even though the house they're looking at doesn’t belong to the rapper. Gizmodo

Refilling the lake: Why did it take a drought to make Orange County residents realize they probably shouldn’t use drinking water to fill a man-made lake? The practice, which has been in place since the 1970s, is coming to an end at Lake Mission Viejo. The move could save tens of millions of gallons of potable water. Los Angeles Times

Downside of independence: East Porterville was an area that shunned government programs, but now that wells are producing more sand than water, community members are forced to rely on one another for water to eat, drink and bathe. "In a community that prides itself on self-reliance, how do you live off the land when the land turns on you?” Longreads



Business competition: Downtown Los Angeles was once home to mostly office towers and blight. But as the residential side of the neighborhood has gentrified, commercial property owners find they have to catch up too. They're transforming traditional high-rises into "creative offices" to better compete with trendy historic buildings. Los Angeles Times 

Modern infrastructure: The new data-sharing agreement between Los Angeles and the navigation service Waze is an experiment, and none of the players quite seem to know how it will change the way the city does business. In Rio de Janeiro, partnering with the traffic app allowed city leaders to change garbage truck routes and redeploy traffic officers. The New Yorker



"We’re literally going to die": Yes, it's an unconventional campaign slogan, but you can't say it's not memorable. Mike Beitiks is campaigning for Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, and the only issue he's running on is climate change. Here's one of his ideas: "Cutting down a tree will now be called 'arbortion.' You can't perform an arbortion unless the government says it's OK." Grist  

Repairs needed: San Diego has some work to do. A new report finds that half of city-owned buildings are in poor condition and need significant repairs. The price tag for that work comes to $983 million. San Diego Union-Tribune



Protest planned: Demonstrators will be back on the streets of Oakland on Friday to protest against Mayor Libby Schaaf's crackdown on nighttime marches. After a May Day protest left smashed storefronts and burned-out cars, the mayor told police to enforce rules against marching in the street or at unpermitted locations. SF Gate

Ezell Ford's mother speaks: In her first interview since her son Ezell Ford was shot by LAPD officers last August, Tritobia Ford says waiting for her son's autopsy report to be released was "a living hell." When she read it, she found that an officer had shot him in the back. "I just believe that God won’t allow Ezell’s life to be just taken like this in vain. There will be some justice for Ezell," she said. Los Angeles Times



Grieving process: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is famous for telling women to "lean in" to their careers. Now, she's doing the same with grief. "You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning," she wrote regarding the first 30 days after the unexpected death of her husband. Los Angeles Times

Friendly wager: The stakes are high for the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) bet a case of local beer over whose team will win. The loser will have to deliver the beer to the winner's office while wearing a jersey from the championship team. Sen. Boxer’s Office



There is a chance of drizzle this morning in Los Angeles. After 11 a.m., it will gradually become sunny with a high of 72 degrees. Parts of San Diego may see rain in the morning; temperatures are expected to reach 67 degrees. San Francisco will be mostly sunny with a high of 63.



It would be an insult to rain everywhere to say that it rained Wednesday. Let's not even call the scant moisture that fell in parts of Los Angeles a drizzle. You can blame the paltry precipitation on June Gloom. When the gloom begins early, it's called May Gray. A similar moist and cloudy weather pattern will return in late September, says Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Get out the rhyming dictionaries, people, because September's annual overcast period still needs a catchy name.


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