Essential California: No, peas don't belong in guacamole

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Good morning. It is Thursday, July 2. Just in time for the Fourth of July, it’s the ultimate guide to craft beer in Los Angeles County. Enjoy, responsibly! Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Saving water

It turns out Californians really are listening to all of the calls for water conservation. Water usage dropped 29% in May, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. That’s more than Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate for a 25% cut. “My first response is almost disbelief. It is such an incredible number,” said Mark Gold of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Los Angeles Times

Extreme bullying

A brutal attack on a high school girl in the San Gabriel Valley is highlighting what can happen when international students are left to their own devices in a foreign culture. An 18-year-old was attacked by other “parachute kids,” whose Chinese parents sent them to California to attend an American high school. Though these teenagers live with a host family, they’re often left unattended. The judge in this case likened the situation to “Lord of the Flies.” Los Angeles Times 

First day of school board

The new president of the L.A. Unified Board of Education got an earful from his colleagues before he got their votes. Board members told Steve Zimmer he would need to build consensus between two warring factions on the board -- those who are pro-teachers’ union and those who are pro-charter schools. The most pressing challenge the new board will have to tackle is hiring a new superintendent. Los Angeles Times 



No rain: The last four years have been the driest in downtown Los Angeles in 140 years. Between July 1, 2014, and June 30 of this year, downtown received only 8.52 inches of rain. “Downtown’s parched landscape mirrors the broader, historic drought that has wreaked havoc on California this decade.” Los Angeles Times

Tech explosion: Will the Internet rescue California from the drought? Apps and technologies are helping farmers test moisture in the soil and homeowners keep track of their water use. “While tech is no cure for the West’s extensive water crisis, it’s one of the more powerful tools we have.” Forbes

Farms vs. fish: House Republicans introduced a bill that would ease environmental restrictions on water pumped to farms. “Republicans have long accused the government of protecting fish over people, saying the environmental restrictions are flushing away water that should be given to farmers and California residents.” National Journal



Campaign 2017: Mayor Eric Garcetti could have some competition when he runs for reelection in two years. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas isn’t ruling out a run, though he could be just the first of many politicians to hedge their bets. Observers believe Garcetti will likely run for higher office, perhaps as soon as 2018 if Sen. Dianne Feinstein doesn’t run for reelection. Los Angeles Times

Public art: The Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX has three new art installations to welcome international passengers. The three artists involved -- Mark Bradford, Pae White and the Ball-Nogues studio -- each live or work in L.A. Los Angeles Times

Tea time: It’s a gift to Los Angeles: a wooden teahouse constructed by artists in the mountains of Griffith Park. The wood came from trees that were damaged in the park’s 2007 wildfire. Because the house was not sanctioned by the city or park officials, it’s unknown how long it will remain in place. Los Angeles Times (video, photo gallery)



New fracking rules: California adopted the nation’s strictest fracking regulations Wednesday. Oil companies will expand water monitoring, disclose the chemicals they use and analyze potential engineering and seismic impacts. However, critics question whether the state’s oil regulator can implement the new rules. Los Angeles Times 

Keep the receipt: Newport Beach city officials want an audit that tracks down every penny spent on the city’s $140 million Civic Center project, something that was originally one-third that price tag. “What was once a City Hall plus a fire station became a City Hall, an emergency communications center, an expanded library, a public gathering room and kitchen, a parking structure and a footbridge.” Orange County Register

Economic indicators: L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson says Los Angeles doesn’t have a strategy to attract new jobs. As he starts a new two-year term  as president of the L.A. City Council, Wesson plans to create an ad hoc committee focused on creating new jobs. It’s unclear how that fits with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s narrative of a local economy that’s turning around. Los Angeles Times



Guilty plea: Former state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court. When he was indicted last year, he was accused of accepting $62,000 in campaign donations in exchange for legislative favors. He was also accused of offering to provide guns and missiles to an undercover FBI agent who posed as a mob figure. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21. He faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Los Angeles Times

Hefty penalty: The city of Los Angeles may have to pay $4 million to a former city gardener who sued for racial and disability discrimination. What makes this case unusual is that the gardener is white and there was direct evidence of racial discrimination. “The evidence was just so plentiful how he had been so severely harassed,” the man’s attorney said. Daily News



Baseball lineup: Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto is out after 3½ years on the job. Dipoto frequently clashed with Manager Mike Scioscia, who resisted the new general manager’s use of data and personnel changes in the front office. No word yet on who might replace Dipoto. Los Angeles Times



Architect's passing: The man behind some of Palm Springs’ most recognizable Midcentury Modern buildings has died at 89. Donald Wexler designed Dinah Shore’s home and the terminal at Palm Springs International Airport. He’s also known for designing prefabricated homes made of steel. Los Angeles Times

Oh, yuck: No one thought the New York Times’ recipe of guacamole and peas sounded right. A better idea would be to get your guacamole recipe from here on the West Coast. Los Angeles Times

Wild ride: It was a boat ride that went horribly wrong. A couple and their two children were heading back to Dana Point Harbor when they spotted a pod of dolphins. The tranquil scene quickly turned chaotic when one of the dolphins jumped into the boat, breaking the ankles of the wife and injuring one of the children. “It’s totally bizarre; no one believes it,” said passenger Dirk Frickman. Orange County Register

Filmed on location: Where are TV shows and movies being filmed this week in L.A.? This handy map gives you all the details. Los Angeles Times

Selfie nation: Posting a selfie today? If you’re in San Francisco, you’ll want to do it this morning. A new study shows that is when residents in the Bay Area are most engaged with social media. Economist



There’s a 20% chance of rain in Los Angeles this morning. In the afternoon there will be some sunshine and a high of 87 degrees. Riverside has a chance of showers in the morning, followed by a high of 91 degrees. In San Diego, there might be morning showers. The afternoon will hit a high of 75. San Francisco will be partly sunny and 67.



President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States and Cuba would reestablish diplomatic ties and open embassies in Washington, D.C., and Havana. Take a look back at the 1961 front page of the Los Angeles Times when President Eisenhower broke off relations with Cuba.


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton