Newsletter: Essential California: Almonds make a comeback

Good morning. It is Friday, Sept. 11. A chunk of ice fell from the sky and crashed through the roof of a Modesto home. That's one way to stay cool in this heat. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


High marks for Brown

A new poll finds that most Californians approve of Gov. Jerry Brown's handling of the drought and don't want to see environmental policies relaxed to increase water supplies. Respondents did support efforts to recycle water and increase groundwater storage, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found. "The poll results suggest that California has proved remarkably resilient during one of the worst droughts on record -- one that prompted Brown to impose the state's first-ever mandatory restrictions on urban water use." Los Angeles Times

Local currency

Gemcoin has been hailed as a new, cutting-edge form of digital currency. An Arcadia company sells packages of actual gems, then awards Gemcoins based on how much is purchased. Customers earn money by selling the gems and recruiting people to become sellers. But the fledgling currency has produced some disgruntled investors, an FBI investigation and a controversy involving Arcadia's mayor. Los Angeles Times 

Compton pay cut

The Compton City Council will dissolve two commissions that the L.A. County district attorney's office alleged served no purpose other than to provide $1,000 monthly payments to the city's elected officials. Prosecutors had given the mayor and council members until Oct. 15 to limit their compensation to $600 a month. Los Angeles Times


Defending almonds: Farmers are harvesting almonds in the San Joaquin Valley. The nut was the poster child for water waste in the drought until urban dwellers realized just how much water they had been wasting themselves, columnist Robin Abcarian writes. "Almonds aren't giant, water-hogging things. They are a good crop, and good food," one nut farmer said. Los Angeles Times

Loss of students: Children in the Central Valley are the latest victims of the drought. Many of them have parents who rely on the land for work. Without rain, many of those families are forced to leave the area. "Drought is like a cancer. It kills you slowly," said Baldomero Hernandez, a school principal in Five Points. The Atlantic

Shifting winds: This winter's El Niño is on track to be one of the strongest ever, but whether that happens is dependent on a dramatic shift in winds over the Pacific Ocean. "It's still very impressive, but it's a marathon with an El Niño. At 20 miles, do you hit the wall? Or do you pick up the pace?" said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Los Angeles Times


DTLA real estate: Downtown L.A.'s historic PacMutual center sold this week for $200 million. "We are now north of $430 a foot, which is a record price for a pure office building downtown," one real estate broker said. Los Angeles Times

Mall makeover: Redondo Beach's South Bay Galleria could be undergoing a major renovation. The updated space could include a hotel, condos and an outdoor plaza. Daily Breeze

Using the Force: Walt Disney Co. will break ground on two "Star Wars"-themed properties in 2016. Los Angeles Times


Jailhouse fight: L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is once again at odds with the American Civil Liberties Union, which he accuses of failing to prevent abuses inside the county's jails. He said he wanted to know how much the county had paid the ACLU to monitor deputies and inmates. In response, an attorney for the group said it had issued multiple warnings about abuses from 2009 through 2012. Los Angeles Times

Budgetary priorities: Orange County is sitting on $220 million in unspent mental health funds at the same time many of its services remain underfunded. "They have all that money, in contingency funds and unspent from last year, while … someone in crisis has to wait three months for an appointment," said Rose King, a mental health advocate. Voice of OC

On the sidelines: Will Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president? The mayor, who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and has enjoyed a close relationship with the White House, won't say. He hasn't met with Clinton on any of her trips to L.A., though he did make time for a phone call with Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland who is also pursuing the Democratic nomination. LA Weekly

Ethics investigation: Nearly 40 San Jose City Council members and candidates will be investigated after violating a local election law. The problem is the way late political contributions were reported. Blame is falling on City Clerk Toni Taber, who has apologized for doling out bad advice. San Jose Mercury News


Suspected gang shooting: A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Compton as he crossed out gang graffiti. Authorities are looking for two suspects in a black vehicle. The killing is believed to be gang-related. Los Angeles Times

Discrimination case: Tech executive Ellen Pao will not appeal her gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Instead, she has agreed to pay the firm about $275,000 in legal fees. Pao and Kleiner did not agree to a financial settlement of the matter, because doing so, she said, would have required her to refrain from talking about the case. Wired

Jail housing: San Francisco's jails will be among the first in the nation to house inmates according to their gender identity. Right now six of the county's 1,257 inmates identify as transgender, and they are housed in an isolated wing. "I carry the perspective forward that the transgender population is marginalized on the streets of America. Consider how magnified that treatment is inside prisons and jails," Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said. Los Angeles Times

Break in pastor's slaying: A Pomona youth pastor shot and killed two years ago may have been targeted because he was Latino. That's according to police, who last week arrested a suspect in the case. Los Angeles Times


Two cultures: The San Francisco Bay Area may be the epicenter of wealth creation in America (think Google, Apple, etc.), but it also has a growing homeless population. Rising housing costs are a problem too, as evidenced by the story of a man who pays $1,500 to live in an 80-square-foot apartment without a kitchen. MSNBC


Whale watching: Footage from an underwater GoPro captured the appearance of killer whales near San Onofre State Beach. Typically, the cetaceans, believed to be eastern tropical Pacific orcas, are found in the waters near Mexico. Orange County Register

Need a mechanic: Here are 11 ways Los Angeles roads, which needs billions of dollars in repairs, can destroy your car. LA Weekly

Capturing butterflies: How can you help and attract a monarch butterfly? Plant milkweed. 89.3 KPCC

Company culture: Many industries and businesses have their own lingo. At Facebook, there are 17 words with special meaning. SFGate


San Francisco will be mostly sunny and 78 degrees. In San Diego, it will be humid and 89. Los Angeles is going to be hot and sunny at 95 degrees. Riverside is expected to reach 98 degrees.


Today's California Memory comes from Michael W. Hamilton:

"I was waiting for a flight at LAX as a teenager in the 1970s, idly surveying the passing scene. Then, as now, L.A. might have been full of celebrities, but I never saw them. That rule bent a little that day when soul crooner Barry White, in a full-length white fur coat, sauntered across the terminal right in front of me. Even though I wasn't really a fan, I was impressed. Instead of hiding under a ball cap, he made an entrance that shouted, 'Here I am!' "

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.) 

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.