Newsletter: Essential California: Donors behind LAUSD election unmasked

Good morning. It is Wednesday, Dec. 2. Did you miss breakfast? A new service will deliver Dunkin' Donuts straight to your door in Los Angeles. Nothing better than hot coffee and a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles, of course. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:


Mystery money

Philanthropist Eli Broad, heirs to the Walmart fortune and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg were among the donors who gave $2.3 million to a political action committee that used the funds in this year’s L.A. Unified School District Board of Education races, records show. Up until now, their identities were unknown to the public — something that is allowed under state law. “The concern is that you can use an intermediary and, essentially, legally mask who is behind a donation,” said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in election law and heads the L.A. Ethics Commission. Los Angeles Times

Charities questioned

State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris filed lawsuits Tuesday to shut down two Southern California charities that solicit car donations to raise money. Cars 4 Causes and People’s Choice Charities are accused of misappropriating millions of dollars in donations for salaries and other expenses. “These charities exploited the goodwill of generous donors by misrepresenting their charitable programs, misappropriating donations and accruing excessive administrative costs,” Harris said. Los Angeles Times

Baby joy

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife announced the birth of their daughter on Facebook. As for little Max Zuckerberg's inheritance, her father and mother simultaneously announced they would give away 99% of their Facebook shares during their lifetime. That’s $45 billion for those of you following along at home. Los Angeles Times


Falling short: Californians failed to reach the state's water conservation goals in the month of October, according to new figures from the state Water Resources Control Board. Overall, the state cut its water use 22.2% that month, falling just short of the 25% goal. “Look for more successful conservation in November with cooler temperatures and the few storms we had over much of the state,” said Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA. Los Angeles Times

Let it snow: California’s snowpack is looking better than it did last year, but that’s still not enough to end the state’s drought. “Northern California, specifically the Sierra Nevada, needs more than one storm a week to help build snowpack to healthy levels.” Los Angeles Times


Affordable housing: Los Angeles County will hang onto 241 public housing units in South L.A. that officials had planned to sell off. The apartments need millions of dollars in renovations and have operated at a loss for the last five years. “In the face of increased concern about homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles, county officials decided Tuesday to hang onto the apartments rather than risk losing more housing for the county’s poorest residents.” Los Angeles Times

Museum's future: The future of the Southwest Museum is up for grabs. Should it return to its original purpose of displaying Native American art or expand its horizon to appeal to a large audience? Angelenos can give their input for the next 10 to 12 months. Curbed LA

Change for a dollar: These might just be the 10 best arcades in Los Angeles. LA Weekly


Mr. Green: How did Jerry Brown become a leader on green energy and climate change? “Throughout his political career, Brown has displayed a desire to minimize society’s footprint on the Earth — a stance that will gain a global platform when he arrives in Paris on Friday to participate in the U.N. summit on climate change.” Los Angeles Times

I quit: Assemblyman Henry T. Perea of Fresno will resign his seat at the end of the year in favor of taking a job in government relations. Up until now, Perea had been leading a caucus of moderate Democrats. Los Angeles Times

Making ends meet: California’s working poor are getting poorer. In 2013, 354,800 Californians worked full time yet still lived below the poverty line. “A low-wage worker today earns less than a similar worker would a generation ago,” said Luke Reidenbach, policy analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center. Cal Matters


Bank investigation: Federal regulators are investigating the practices of Wells Fargo, according to the Wall Street Journal. Two years ago, The Times reported bank employees faced such pressure to make quotas that some created accounts without customers' knowledge, and in some cases even forged their signatures. Los Angeles Times

Judge's misconduct: The state Commission on Judicial Performance has recommended a Tulare County judge be forced from the bench after he engaged in a bizarre relationship with his clerk. The commission found Valeriano Saucedo gave his clerk gifts of money, vacations and a car in exchange for a text message relationship. His behavior was described as “deceitful, calculated and unseemly” by the panel. Los Angeles Times

Police shootings: In Kern County this year, police officers have killed more people relative to the size of the population than police in any other American city. “They have some fine officers here, but unfortunately they have some bullies and thugs who often run the show,” said Henry Mosier, a former public defender. The Guardian

Unsolved murder: Did an open garage door ultimately lead to the death of a state assemblyman's father? It’s been two years since Joseph Gatto, the father of Mike Gatto, was killed in his Silver Lake home. Authorities believe the killer may have hidden in Gatto's garage and then became trapped once the door was closed. The case remains unsolved. Eastsider LA

Job offer: Break out the cheeseheads? LAPD's lead spokesman Cmdr. Andrew Smith has been offered the job of police chief in Green Bay, Wis. Los Angeles Times

Missing producer: The search is on for a visual effects producer who disappeared last Tuesday. Eric Anthony Kohler, 27, was last seen leaving work in Gardena. Authorities say Kohler left the area without his wallet, laptop or other belongings. Los Angeles Times


That's racist: A San Francisco news anchor is calling out a Facebook commenter who left a racist message on a picture of the man braiding his daughter’s hair. “We always knew that when we adopted my daughter we might get comments like that. But I can't even remember the last time it happened. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of negative things people have said,” writes Frank Somerville. SFGate

Make it a double: How did editors reach reporters in the days before cellphones? If you worked at the Los Angeles Times, chances are pretty good someone called you on the red phone at the nearby Redwood bar. LA Observed

Priced out: More and more, Los Angeles' downtown Arts District isn't any place for artists. “The city has done nothing to stop the speculation" from developers, says Laura Velkei, a community activist and Arts District resident. LA Weekly


San Francisco will have some sunshine and a high of 60 degrees. In Los Angeles, it will be mostly sunny and 77. San Diego will have sunshine and a high of 77. Riverside will be mostly sunny and 78.


Today's California Memory comes from Cat Thelia:

"My French parents (a nurse and a waiter) bought a house in the Hollywood Hills in the mid-'60s because it was affordable. When we grew up in the late '70s and '80s, only old Hollywood folks, immigrants and hippies lived in these old-fashioned Spanish-style houses. It was a real quiet neighborhood, and we rarely went down to Hollywood Boulevard, a mere mile and a half away. I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and a contest exclaimed that I could win a trip for four to 'Hollywood, California!' As I looked out the living room window to the Hollywood sign, I wondered if I couldn't get the cash equivalent."

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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