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Newsletter: Essential California: Untangling the L.A. County Fair

Good morning. It is Tuesday, Nov. 3. The National Park Service is hoping to clean up trash on the Ocean Beach promenade in San Francisco by removing garbage cans. Hmm, how will that turn out? Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES

More than a fair

Seventy-five years ago, the Los Angeles County Fair Assn. was established to promote the region’s agriculture industry. Today, however, the nonprofit has a portfolio that includes a hotel and conference center, a catering company, an equipment rental service and a mobile home park. Because the fairgrounds in Pomona are county-owned, the group doesn’t have to pay property taxes for the land. Even when the group loses millions of dollars, its executives are handsomely rewarded, with its CEO earning $900,000 in total compensation in 2013. Los Angeles Times

End of an era

City National Bank was founded in 1953 in Beverly Hills, became a favorite of celebrities and has long been the biggest bank headquartered in Los Angeles. But that era ended Monday when Toronto’s Royal Bank of Canada announced it finalized the acquisition of City National. Los Angeles Times

Deputy sentenced

A former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy will spend the next eight years in prison after being sentenced in the beating of a handcuffed man at the Men’s Central Jail and a scheme to cover it up. Eric Gonzalez was defiant until the end, praising himself before a judge for showing restraint in his job. The victim, Gabriel Carrillo, was charged with assaulting deputies based on their false reports, before prosecutors dropped the charges that could have landed him in prison for 14 years. Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT AND CLIMATE

Help on the way: Snow is finally coming to the Sierra Nevada, which is a key source of water for California. The first major snow storm of the season was expected to dump a foot of it Monday as it moved across California’s drought-stricken mountains. Scientists have said snow levels in the Sierra Nevada were at their lowest in more than 500 years. Los Angeles Times

Winter warning: Hundreds of people who live in Southern California’s tunnels and storm drains are being warned to brace for the floods of El Niño. Lulled into a false security by years of drought and mild winters, many of those homeless people will drown if they don't move before the rains come, experts say. Los Angeles Times

L.A. AT LARGE 

Fighting parking tickets: The city of Los Angeles’ finances are looking better than they have in years, and that has some Angelenos asking whether it’s time to ease the pain of parking tickets. One suggestion is a tiered rate structure. “A driver’s first ticket of the year would cost $23, the current median hourly wage for a worker in the L.A. area. The price of a ticket would rise after that, with the fourth ticket of the year costing $68.” Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Congressional funds: The richest and poorest men in Congress both call California home. The state’s Congressional delegation has 20 millionaires. And one doctor in the group still has $100,000 in student loans. Here's a database of the assets and liabilities disclosed by California’s elected officials in Washington, D.C. Los Angeles Times

Calls to legalize it: The billionaire philanthropist behind Napster and Facebook is now part of the coalition to legalize recreational marijuana in California. Sean Parker, the Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance and the California Cannabis Industry Assn. want a measure on the November 2016 ballot that would legalize the drug and place a 15% tax on retail sales. The measure has already been endorsed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Los Angeles Times

Labor talks: L.A. County employees could be getting a pretty good deal soon. A proposed labor contract would provide a 10% pay increase over three years, an additional holiday and another week of vacation for longtime employees. The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the contract today. “The board is viewed as pro-labor with Democrats Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas holding the majority; however, the contracts must receive approval from at least one of the two conservative members, Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich.” Daily News

Housing protest: Hours before San Francisco voters will weigh in on Airbnb’s future, housing advocates stormed the tech& start-up's headquarters. The protesters strung up signs that read: “ENTITLEMENT Love, Airbnb” and “EVICTIONS Love, Airbnb.” Proposition F on today’s ballot would regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO. BuzzFeed

Tricks are for kids: State Sen. Bob Hertzberg celebrated Halloween by handing out candy bars in wrappers bearing his name and picture. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Assemblyman Mike Gatto handed out pens with the politician’s name on them. He claims none of the young trick-or-treaters revolted by egging his house. Sacramento Bee

CRIME AND COURTS

High-profile arrest: A 51-year-old man was arrested by police in connection with two dozen robberies that left two people dead and six others injured. The “Western Bandit,” as he was known to authorities, operated along Western Avenue over a three-year period, according to police. Patrick Watkins now faces 53 felony charges. Los Angeles Times

Deposition scheduled: An attorney for model Janice Dickinson will be allowed to question comedian Bill Cosby and his former attorney in a defamation lawsuit that was brought after Cosby denied raping Dickinson. “The judge limited the deposition to evidence showing the denial of the allegation that Cosby raped the model in Lake Tahoe in 1982 was made maliciously.” Los Angeles Times

BUSINESS

A tech unicorn: Theranos is one of Silicon Valley’s most famous unicorns -- an unlisted start-up valued at more than $1 billion. A recent onslaught of bad press, however, underscores the challenge that position presents to financial backers. “Investors are so keen to get a piece of any sexy-sounding start-up that they lap up entrepreneurs’ hype — and anyone who asks awkward questions risks being cut out of the funding round in favour of someone more trusting.” The Economist

Cancer research: If Vice President Joe Biden chooses to focus on cancer research after he leaves office, he may have an ally in California billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The two met at the White House a few weeks ago to talk about what it would take to change cancer research in America. “Here’s a man who enveloped himself during his son’s illness and got to understand the fine intricacies of this disease and is a person who could cross the aisle and work with Republicans and Democrats,” Soon-Shiong said. New York Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

California history: Why is Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California under Mexican rule, buried in two graves? “Pico’s resources dwindled swiftly in the 1880s. His ranch was damaged by floods,  he gambled away as much as $25,000 on a single race, and his son and translator … was murdered for leaving a woman at the altar.“ 89.3 KPCC

Art aficionado: For a decade now, Michael Govan has run the L.A. County Museum of Art. For some, he is the “czar of culture” in Southern California. “You can take risks. So if you succeed, if you fail, it’s not really a big deal in history. It’s the artists who are going to be remembered,” Govan says. Washington Post

Life in the suburbs: Halloween can bring out the best in a neighborhood, writes columnist Sandy Banks, who this year was ready to forgo the holiday until she remembered how much her two young neighbors look forward to the decorations and candy. “I’ve always had a soft spot for Halloween. It’s a holiday that runs counter to so much of what we routinely tell our kids: 'Don’t talk to strangers. Candy isn’t good for you. You’re not leaving the house dressed like that,' ” she writes. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

San Francisco will be sunny and 64 degrees. Los Angeles will be sunny and 69. In Riverside, there’s a chance of showers and an expected high of 66. San Diego will be partly sunny with showers and 68 degrees.

AND FINALLY

Today's California Memory comes from Bill Mills:

"When my wife and I moved to Newport Beach in 1989 and worked at jobs in Newport Beach and Irvine, we thought we had the best location ever. She loved her commute along the Pacific Coast Highway past the Back Bay before turning inland to Irvine. And every time we reached the crest of the hill driving west down Superior in Newport Beach we marveled at the beauty of the ocean. Great memories for us!"

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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