Essential California: Five-minute showers and the drought

Good morning. It is Monday, Aug. 24. If you can believe, there was a time when drivers couldn’t wait to get on the Hollywood Freeway. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Environmental policy

Are tax subsidies for electric cars just benefiting wealthy Californians who could afford those cars without the rebates? Data suggest that the rebates are not helping out low-income drivers, and now some lawmakers want to restrict who can access the rebates. “The state should not be diverting … taxes on low-income and middle-class families to benefit wealthy drivers,” said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff. Los Angeles Times

Art collector

It was the “natural eye” of Edye Broad that got her billionaire husband interested in art. Next month, the Broad Museum will open in downtown Los Angeles. “Edye responds to stuff emotionally, not intellectually. It's her visceral reaction to a work of art," said Stephanie Barron, senior curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles Times


Endangered fish: California’s wild populations of salmon and steelhead are in real danger. Last year, the water released from Shasta Dam was so warm it killed off most of the eggs and emerging young. “Four years of drought — and the accompanying relaxation of environmental standards by state regulators — have compounded the harm of dams and diversions that long ago thwarted fish migration and destroyed habitat.” Los Angeles Times

Water conservation: The Metropolitan Water District is trying a new tactic to get people to take shorter showers -- a play list. The district’s Pandora station has water-related songs, like Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and the songs are timed to get Californians out of the shower in about five minutes. Los Angeles Times


Window repairs: Why is it taking the Department of Water and Power so long to replace windows damaged in a 2014 fire? Columnist Steve Lopez looked into it. “The challenge for me is understanding how it could possibly take so long to develop such a safety plan. This is the DWP. They have guys climbing utility poles all day while juggling live wires. They can't shoot up there in a cherry picker and change out a window?” he writes. Los Angeles Times

Young activists: A new camp organized through the UCLA Labor Center is churning out activists. “It is to build a powerful social justice movement that will transform this country,” said director Kent Wong. Los Angeles Times

Cleanup efforts: LAPD officers say they’re not targeting homeless men and women on Skid Row, but people who live there say officers are looking for ways to get their belongings off the sidewalks. “They have never done this," said Zelenne Cardenas of the United Coalition East Prevention Project, a skid row advocacy group. Los Angeles Times

More balls: The city of Los Angeles is dumping more balls into the water. The lake at MacArthur Park is now home to 2,500 colorful spheres thanks to the nonprofit Portraits of Hope. “This project involves everything that's good about Los Angeles. Great weather, open space, creativity and social conscience,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. Los Angeles Times


Female representation: An interesting thing is happening in Sacramento. There are fewer Democratic women in office at a time when the ranks of Republican women are growing, writes columnist Cathleen Decker. "There isn't that sense that there's an underrepresentation of women in politics, even though there is. There isn't an urgency like there used to be,” said  Katie Merrill, a Bay Area Democratic consultant. Los Angeles Times

Whatcha driving? L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been accessing two luxury cars, both paid for by taxpayers, though officially records show that he’s been behind the wheel only of a 2006 Chrysler. The newer car picked up 9,000 miles, though Ridley-Thomas claimed to have only used it when his older vehicle needed routine maintenance, and was kept spotless by county employees who washed it an average of three times a week. Daily News

Presidential advice: Gov. Jerry Brown ran for president three times, but these days he’s just giving advice to presidential candidates. Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the governor said of the issue of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of email that she needs to “find a stake and put it right through the heart.” Los Angeles Times

New regulations: Medical marijuana dispensaries have been essentially forbidden in Long Beach since 2012, but now city officials are planning to reexamine the issue. Under a proposal, as many as 18 pot shops could open if they meet if they meet regulatory standards. Long Beach Press-Telegram

“Lawless territory”: GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally at an Alabama football stadium hit home with at least one Californian, who stopped the billionaire businessman while on a road trip. “There is no more California. It’s now international, lawless territory. Everything is up for grabs. Illegal aliens are murdering people there. People are being raped. Trump isn’t lying about anything — the rest of the country just hasn’t found out yet,” said Cheryl Burns. Washington Post


American heroes: Three friends who grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento were hailed as heroes this weekend by the presidents of France and the U.S. after subduing a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. The families and friends of Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos weren’t surprised that the men jumped into action. “I would certainly agree that their acts were heroic, and I don’t think that ‘hero’ is an overstatement for the three of them,” said Sadler’s father. Los Angeles Times

Airport scuffle: Rapper Wiz Khalifa was taken to the ground and handcuffed by police at LAX Saturday afternoon for riding a hover board through the airport. After his arrest, Kahlifa tweeted, “All because I didn't want to ditch the technogy (sic) everyone will be using in the next 6 months. Do what you want kids.” LAist 

Money problems: A nonprofit in southeast L.A. County that was established to help senior citizens finds itself struggling financially after two of its leaders were caught up in political corruption cases.  Oldtimers Foundation’s longtime executive director, George Cole, was convicted of misappropriating public funds in the city of Bell. And former board member Tom Calderon is facing charges of money laundering. “There’s been hesitation because of the past history of the organization,” said Hugo Enciso, chairman of the foundation. Los Angeles Times

#LaughingWhileBlack: That’s the hashtag that took off after 11 African American women were kicked off a train in Napa. Officials with the Napa Valley Wine Train said the group had been told to quiet down. “It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest,” said one of the women in the group. SF Gate


Unexpected infestation: Small, winged bugs have taken over the eastern Sierra Nevada. “The influx has been driven by a mild winter and monsoonal weather, which provided healthier vegetation for the nutrient-sucking bugs.” Associated Press

Affirmative consent: At UC Irvine, incoming freshmen are learning what it means to consent to sex. “Summer orientation is more explicit these days, for a reason. A number of high-profile cases cast a spotlight on the issue of sexual assault on campus, forcing colleges and universities to rethink not only how they handle such accusations but what they are doing to prevent them.” Orange County Register

No. 1 fan: A 27-year-old reporter for the Los Angeles Times is such a big fan of singer Taylor Swiftthat he was sent to her concert Friday night to interview other fans. Then his phone rang. It was Swift’s publicist, asking him to meet them backstage. Los Angeles Times

Tasty treat: The greatest doughnut in the world may exist at a shop in Glendora. BuzzFeed


San Francisco will have low clouds and then sunshine and 71 degrees. In Los Angeles, there will be low clouds and then sun and 87 degrees. Riverside will be sunny and 98. San Diego will have low clouds and 80 degrees.


This week’s birthdays for famous Californians:

Musician Gene Simmons (Aug. 25), director Tim Burton (Aug. 25), Rep. Raul Ruiz (Aug. 25), actress Blake Lively (Aug. 25), Rep. Julia Brownley (Aug. 28), boxer Timothy Bradley Jr. (Aug. 29).

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.