Newsletter: Essential California: Major insurance fraud left patients scarred, authorities say

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Sept. 16. Ansel Adams' photographs depicting the wartime internment of Japanese Americans will be at the Skirball Cultural Center beginning Oct. 8. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State: 


GOP donors

The San Francisco Bay Area is known as a liberal stronghold, but it has emerged as the state's top spot for donations to Republican presidential candidates, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. Candidates and their super PACs have collected $13.4 million in the area, mainly from Silicon Valley tech moguls. It appears that Orange County's donors are taking a more cautious approach, giving just $1.6 million so far this cycle. Los Angeles Times

Winter preview?

Tuesday's rainfall could prove to be a preview of a coming El Niño. The strong El Niño of 1997-98 was marked by short, powerful bursts of rain, similar to what Southern California experienced this week. But those can lead to mudslides and flash floods. Los Angeles Times

Insurance fraud allegations

Los Angeles County authorities say it may be one of the largest insurance fraud scams in California history. Dr. Munir Uwaydah, his lawyer and more than a dozen other people were indicted, as officials said Uwaydah deceived patients into having operations that were then performed by an untrained assistant. Those patients were often left with scars and subsequent surgeries. And insurance companies may have been billed as much as $150 million in the process. Los Angeles Times


Water resolution: A long-running water dispute in the Central Valley has come to an end. The federal government and the Westlands Water District approved a settlement over hundreds of thousands of acres that had been drained and tainted. Los Angeles Times

Fire damage: The JKL Museum of Telephony was among the buildings destroyed in one of the massive wildfires in Northern California. The museum displayed hundreds of telephones that showed how the device has evolved over more than 100 years. The Butte fire has consumed more than 70,000 acres. Smithsonian


Wage laws: Employees at nonprofits will not be exempt from Los Angeles County's new higher minimum wage laws. Trainees and seasonal workers will also be covered by the higher wages. Wages will reach $15 an hour by 2021 in unincorporated areas of the county. Los Angeles Times

Road diets: Los Angeles is known around the world for its devotion to the automobile. We love our cars so much that we've packed the roads with them to the point where we can barely get around. Columnist Steve Lopez looks at the city's plans to force motorists out of their beloved vehicles. "The broader question, for Silver Lake and the rest of Los Angeles, is what kind of city do we want to live in, and are there compromises everyone can agree on?" he writes. Los Angeles Times

Convent battle: The battle over a former convent in Los Feliz continues. Restaurateur Dana Hollister, who tried to buy the multimillion-dollar property from nuns, will vacate the home and continue to pay rent. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Archdiocese continues to argue that it has the legal right to sell to pop singer Katy Perry. A hearing is set for October. Los Angeles Times

Hidden tax: In the city of Los Angeles, freelancers must pay a business tax. That provision is not well publicized, nor is the exemption that struggling artists and writers can receive. The problem is compounded by a penalty that may be exacted against freelancers who fail to file for an exemption from the tax they may not even know about. "I don't even know how you'd find out about it, if it weren't for word-of-mouth, until you get penalized by the city," one writer said. LA Weekly

Winning debut: Freshman Jake Olson practiced with the USC football team Tuesday for the first time. What makes the long snapper from Orange Lutheran High different from his fellow teammates is that he's blind. "He did a good job," Coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I'm proud of the work that he put in." Los Angeles Times


At the Reagan Library: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan invited the Republican presidential candidates to this evening's debate at her late husband's library in Simi Valley. However, it has been years since the 94-year-old has participated in public life, columnist Robin Abcarian writes. "She's realized that she's had a tremendous life filled with all these exciting opportunities and now is the time to really retire," her spokeswoman said. Los Angeles Times

Round 2: At tonight's GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Library, Donald Trump will face one of the few people who have gotten the best of him this election cycle -- radio host Hugh Hewitt. "Hewitt may be the most dangerous kind of interlocutor for The Donald: a smart, unimpeachable conservative who asks hard, fair, real questions that can't be dismissed with a snarling 'You're Fired!' putdown." Politico

Not impressed: Speaking of the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump was in San Pedro on Tuesday night for a speech aboard the battleship Iowa, but his rhetoric on immigrants and the military isn't finding much traction in the blue-collar community. "He shouldn't come here. The statements he has made are stupid, stereotypical and [exhibit] ethnic bias," one resident said. Los Angeles Times

Attention hogs: California politicians are glomming onto Trump for attention, columnist Cathleen Decker writes. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and congressional opponents Isadore Hall and Nanette Barragan are trying to get media attention for their criticisms of the candidate. Los Angeles Times

Packing heat: Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer renewed his concealed-weapon permit last week. The renewal came just days after it was revealed that Spitzer had armed himself in April after a fellow patron at a Wahoo's Fish Taco restaurant made him uncomfortable by talking about religion. Orange County Register


Fast and furious: Video posted to social media shows the drivers of a yellow Ferrari LaFerrari and a white Porsche 911 GT3 racing through Beverly Hills as they weave around cars and blow through stop signs. When questioned by police, the vehicles' owner claimed to have diplomatic immunity. Los Angeles Times

Officer sentenced: A former acting police chief for King City was sentenced to 90 days in jail for his role in a car-towing scheme. Prosecutors said that under the leadership of Bruce Miller, officers stopped mostly Latino drivers and forced them to give up their vehicles if they were unable to pay towing fees. Most of those cars were sent to a tow yard owned by Miller's brother. San Jose Mercury News


Transit tax: Ventura County officials are considering a new tax on the November 2016 ballot to pay for road repairs. The proposal could generate $1 billion to $2 billion for transit projects. High on the priority list would be widening Highway 101 and State Route 118. Los Angeles Times


OMG: This is basically what happens when it rains in Los Angeles. Wait, how do umbrellas work? BuzzFeed

Nature of speech: The UC regents will meet this week to take up a new policy aimed at curbing hate speech. The challenge for officials will be to craft the policy in a way that doesn't infringe on free-speech principles. Los Angeles Times


Cesar Chavez's speech: Fifty years ago today, hundreds of people filed into a church in rural Delano, Calif., to hear a man who would become a legend deliver a speech on the rights of farmworkers whose "shoulders are stooped with the weight of injustice." In a Times Op-Ed article, Miriam Pawel writes of the moment on Sept. 16, 1965, when Cesar Chavez stirred Mexican produce pickers into joining forces with Filipino packers and formed the United Farm Workers of America. Los Angeles Times

UC speech code: As the UC regents discuss the proposed "Statement of Principles Against Intolerance," The Times' editorial board says that any such statement should define intolerance in a way that doesn't undermine free speech. Los Angeles Times


San Diego will have sun and clouds, with highs reaching 80 degrees. Los Angeles will have some clouds and 78 degrees. Riverside will also be 78 degrees with clouds creeping in. San Francisco will have a passing afternoon shower. Temperatures are expected to reach 67 degrees.


Today's California Memory comes from Carmen Rodriguez-Caballero:

"My life in L.A. started on July 4, 1997, when I moved over to start my career as a Spanish teacher. As a Spaniard, I was used to smaller cities, and there majestically stood L.A., full of sun and loveliness, with a kind of invitation to explore it as you wish to explore the lap of a mother. I lived in Park La Brea for four academic years. I got lost driving through the streets, which was part of the daily experience.

"Now, back in Spain and after the sudden death of my beloved one, there appear photos of L.A. among the debris of my life to cheer me up and feel thankful for the life I still have. I thank you, L.A., for bringing back such good memories in these moments of sadness."

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.

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