Essential California: Shopping spree with the coroner

Good morning. It is Friday, July 3. We’re playing hooky and spending the weekend at BBQs, baseball games and the beach. Essential California will return on Monday.

Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

Tightening UC admissions: Fewer Californians were accepted to UC schools, while the number of offers to foreign students increased, according to the latest statistics. This highlights tensions within the university system. Out-of-state students pay more in tuition but leave fewer spots for native Californians. The campuses in Irvine and San Diego were the most aggressive in seeking students from outside the Golden State. Los Angeles Times

Losing business: One of the largest corporations in Los Angeles is being bought by a St. Louis-based company. The headquarters of Health Net will move out of L.A., part of a trend the city has seen in recent decades. Medicaid insurer Centene Corp. will pay $6.8 billion for Health Net. Experts say funding from the Affordable Care Act is the reason behind a rash of recent mergers. Los Angeles Times

Which side is he on? Mayor Eric Garcetti does not like the L.A. City Council’s new ordinance that would make it easier to tear down homeless encampments. But rather than veto the bill, he will allow it to become law without his signature and then ask the LAPD not to enforce it. The decision to take a middle position has drawn criticism from all sides of the homeless community. “He needs to take leadership on this issue, not stand in the middle,” said a housing activist who protested against the law outside Getty House. Los Angeles Times 

Governor’s home: No one has lived in the governor’s mansion since Ronald Reagan was in Sacramento, and even then Nancy Reagan called the house a “fire trap” and had a new mansion built in the suburb of Carmichael. Gov. Jerry Brown is now considering a move back into the home where he once studied for the California bar. Sacramento Bee For more on the Carmichael house, go back and read Joan Didion’s essay “Many Mansions.” Google Books


Water use: One of the Bay Area’s biggest water hogs, Hillsborough, cut consumption 49% in May. “Increasingly, the drought has come to be viewed as a social problem, not only an environmental problem. When neighbors' lawns are dying, bright green turf becomes as politically incorrect as tooling around town in a Hummer." San Jose Mercury-News

Lobbyists’ gifts: As Hollywood lobbied the U.S. State Department on piracy and online distribution, the  Motion Picture Assn. of America refurbished screening rooms in four overseas embassies. The lobby group declined to say what it cost to upgrade the rooms. ProPublica

Interns fight back: Who benefits from an unpaid internship -- the intern or the employer? That’s the central question in a case brought by two unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight Pictures. An appeals judge just ruled in the studio’s favor, but the case has resonated. It prompted a wave of lawsuits from other unpaid interns and prompted some studios to turn internships into paid positions. Los Angeles Times

Ticket fix: When an Orange County woman got a DUI, she searched Craigslist for an attorney who could take the case. A stranger responded that for  $1,000, he could get her a lesser charge. It was a scam, and now the District Attorney’s Office is reopening hundreds of cases. 89.3 KPCC

Motorcycle safety: Columnist Robin Abcarian rode on the back of a motorcycle to learn why lane splitting is the safest thing riders can do. According to one researcher, “lane splitters wear better helmets, travel at lower speeds, are far less likely to have alcohol in their systems or to be carrying passengers.” Los Angeles Times 

Grim souvenirs: The L.A. County Coroner's Office may soon close its gift shop and turn it into a museum or education center. The store opened in 1993 … as a joke. Daily News

Time to BBQ: Here are 67 recipes for the three-day holiday weekend. Los Angeles Times

Fireworks displays: Where to see fireworks in San Diego this Fourth of July weekend. San Diego Union-Tribune


This week’s most popular stories in Essential California

  1. Here are the 30 amazing sites that a California child should visit before he or she grows up. SF Gate

  2. Singer Katy Perry wants to buy a former convent in the Los Feliz neighborhood. It should not come as a surprise that the nuns who used to live in the home are not on board with that purchase. Los Angeles Times

  3. When two paddleboarders heard there were great white sharks off the coast of Orange County, they headed out there to hang out with (and videotape) the animals. LAist

  4. A judge is comparing a brutal attack on an 18-year-old woman to “Lord of the Flies.” That’s because she was assaulted by her classmates. The girls involved are from China and were sent to the San Gabriel Valley to attend high school. Los Angeles Times

  5. This is a step-by-step guide on how to install a graywater system in your home. Voice of San Diego


ICYMI, here are this week’s Great Reads

Live from New York: Wally Feresten has an unglamorous job in a glamorous setting. For 25 years, he has held the cue cards for hosts and performers on “Saturday Night Live.” “I've missed a lot of weddings, a lot of funerals, a lot of bar mitzvahs. But to say you've worked at 'SNL' for 25 years? That goes a long way,” he said. Los Angeles Times

Searching for the past: When she was a young child, retired UCLA Professor Miriam Finder Tasini and her family fled from the Nazis and ended up in a Siberian prison camp. Since 1989, she has worked to recover her family’s property that was seized when the Nazi invaded Poland. “"I think the Polish government wants the last of us claimants to die off,” Tasini said. Los Angeles Times


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.