Newsletter: Essential California: What’s on the line if L.A. gets the Olympics

Good morning. It is Monday, Aug. 31. Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers, will be back for a 67th season. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Olympic finances

Will Los Angeles taxpayers be on the hook for the 2024 Olympics if L.A. is the host city and there are cost overruns? That is the key question as the L.A. City Council prepares for a vote on an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee. “The City did not assume that responsibility in 1984. Why would it assume that responsibility now?” Councilman Mike Bonin wrote in a letter to the council president. Los Angeles Times

Politics and money

When Compton Mayor Aja Brown gave her state of the city address this year, it was to a room full of people who paid thousands of dollars to network, eat dinner and listen to her. The funds went to a nonprofit run by the mayor and her husband. “You are using your public position for self-benefit, indirectly. She's exploiting her position,” said Charles Davis, a member of the Compton Unified School Board and a former city clerk. Los Angeles Times

June 1968

Juan Romero was 17 years old when he worked as a busboy at the Ambassador Hotel, met Robert F. Kennedy, and then cradled the politician’s head after he was shot by an assassin's bullet. Now 65 years old, it’s only in the last few years that Romero has been able to shake the guilt he carried from that night. And it’s thanks to an unlikely friendship with a woman in Germany, writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times



Dueling priorities: In Sonoma County, some residents are blaming vineyards for endangering the Chinook population. The anger comes as winemakers are working to become the first wine region certified as completely “sustainable” by 2019. Los Angeles Times

New signs: One biologist says he’s found the latest sign that El Nino could pack a whopper this winter -- little red crabs. Pelagic red crabs are typically found in the warm waters of Mexico, but Jeff Harris spotted the creatures off San Miguel Island in Santa Barbara County. “This is very important because the water is already very warm, and it is said that the El Niño is still on its way. This could be a record event,” Harris said. Los Angeles Times

Water shipments: One Alaska-based company is preparing to send 10 million gallons of water a month to California. However, state officials are skeptical of the plan given its costs. “There are no shortage of people with ideas about how to ship water around with no economic savvy,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. USA Today

Dry wells: Wells are going dry in the Central Valley and that’s creating dire situations for the region’s residents. “Farming in Tulare County brought in $8.1 billion in 2014, more than any other county in the nation, according to its agricultural commissioner. Yet 1,252 of its household wells today are dry, more than all other California counties combined.” Washington Post



LGBT history: USC is now home to the largest archive of LGBT artifacts. Items include love letters between World War II servicewomen, matches from gay bars and address books listing “gay-friendly” businesses. “Our history was not just one oppressive dirge after another, but little tiny victories, hard fought and hard won, that equal a really rousing triumph for humanity,” said Joseph Hawkins, director of the archive. Los Angeles Times

Then, now: How would the 2024 Olympics be different than the 1984 Games if Los Angeles were selected to be the bid city? The city has a new airport, more public transit options and a more diverse population than it did 30 years ago. “This had to be not just a showcase of the best of L.A., but a different L.A. This can’t be about 1984. If it is, we have no chance,” said Casey Wasserman, chairman of LA24. Daily News

L.A.’s diversity: A Q&A with author Ryan Gattis, whose new book unfolds during the 1992 riots. “L.A. is an incredibly diverse place and perhaps one of the enduring legacies of the '92 riots is the clear understanding that we need to talk to one another, and do our best to see things from another perspective, even if we don't end up agreeing,” Gattis said. Los Angeles Times



Wind and solar: Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a plan that would extend California’s green energy policies to other states throughout the West. “This would be gigantic. All of California's climate laws were intended to drive policy in other states and at the federal level,” said Carl Zichella, an environmental advocate who works on energy transmission issues for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Los Angeles Times

Technological advances: State lawmakers are trying to catch up with the proliferation of personal drones. Various proposals would prohibit them near schools, prisons and private property. “I’m not anti-drone. I just want to make sure people’s privacy is protected, that public safety is protected,” said state Sen. Ted Gaines. Sacramento Bee

What’s in a name: Business owners in northern Redondo Beach want to rename Artesia Boulevard, believing that Redondo Beach Boulevard would be more attractive to customers. However, the proposal has virtually no support from residents or local politicians. “I’m more concerned with putting great businesses on Artesia than with renaming it. I don’t believe it’s a priority for the City Council at all,” said Redondo Beach Mayor Steve Aspel. Daily Breeze



Lost gun: UC Berkeley’s police chief sent an internal email this week in an attempt to set the record straight on a car theft that resulted in the loss of her department-issued gun. Along with the firearm, Chief Margo Bennett’s badge, computer, iPad, cellphone and diamond ring were taken from her SUV while she was out for a run. “I should have taken my gun and badge and put them in the spare tire well,” she wrote in an email to staff. SF Gate



Pension problems: California has never paid so much money toward the retirement of public sector employees and still, it’s not enough. Last year’s shortfall reached $5 billion. That has the California Public Employees' Retirement System rethinking its investment strategy. Los Angeles Times

Economic outlook: California’s economy is outperforming the nation in gross domestic product and employment growth. How long can the momentum last? “It's going to be a lot harder for California to outperform the way it has the last two years. It doesn't mean we have to go into a recession, but it does make it a lot harder for us to keep up this pace,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. Los Angeles Times

Rental wars: Orange County’s rental market has gotten so crazy that there are now bidding wars just to rent a house or apartment. Some applicants are going so far as to offer a year’s worth of rent in advance. “That’s taking a toll on tenants, who complain the search process has grown longer and increasingly frustrating, if not financially painful.” Orange County Register



Research funds: Sponsors of a long-term research project on Alzheimer's disease are abandoning UC San Diego for USC. The two universities have been in a legal dispute over the study ever since the lead researcher left San Diego for L.A. “Though the La Jolla campus has so far won in court — with a Superior Court judge giving it continued control of the Alzheimer's initiative — it is losing most of the contracts, money and trust of the program's participants across the country.” Los Angeles Times

Open and transparent: Officials with the L.A. Unified School District promised that the search for a new superintendent would be transparent but the process got off to a shaky start when the district listed the wrong address for the first such meeting. Ultimately, the correct location was found by two reporters and two members of the public when they spotted a sheet of paper on a nearby fence. “As it turned out, the number of school police officers — at least four — outnumbered the members of the public with sufficient interest and perseverance.” Los Angeles Times



Broad museum: Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reviews the new Broad Museum, the latest addition to Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. He describes the building as “an efficient three-story box of exhibition and archive space wrapped in an eye-catching, bone-white honeycomb of fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels.” Los Angeles Times

Historical ties: In Orange County, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans are grappling with recent backlash against the Confederate flag. “It’s a tough climate we’re in right now. But we certainly want to make sure we’re doing everything to represent our camp and organization,” said Scott Price, chapter commander. Orange County Register

Taller and taller: A new collection of architectural photos shows how Los Angeles’ skyline evolved once height restrictions were lifted. Southland Gizmodo



San Diego will be partly sunny and 80 degrees. It will be partly sunny and 92 degrees in Riverside. Los Angeles will have areas of low clouds and then sunshine and 84 degrees. San Francisco will be partly sunny and 72.



This week’s birthdays for famous Californians:

Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff (Aug. 31), cartoonist Jhonen Vasquez (Sept. 1), former CEO of Intel Corp. Andrew S. Grove (Sept. 2), attorney Robert Shapiro (Sept. 2), actor Mark Harmon (Sept. 2), historian Kevin Starr (Sept. 3), actor Charlie Sheen (Sept. 3).


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