Newsletter: Essential California: Donald Trump and the Ambassador Hotel

Good morning. It is Monday, Dec. 21. Whoops -- two Southwest jets got into something of a fender bender Sunday at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Hope the pilots stopped to exchange insurance information. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:


Trump’s loss

This is one fight GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump doesn’t brag about on the campaign trail, but in 1989 Trump and his associates swept into town with lawyers, lobbyists and a plan to build a 125-story office building on the site of the Ambassador Hotel. He was ultimately stopped by two progressives on the Los Angeles school board who wanted the property for a badly needed high school. Here’s the story of what happened. Los Angeles Times

Deadly infections

The maker of a medical scope failed to warn U.S. hospitals that its devices were tied to deadly infections, a Times investigation has found. Over several years, 21 people died and at least two dozen more became ill from infections related to scopes, including some in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Outsiders unwelcome

The San Bernardino terrorist attack that killed 14 people is stirring a political debate about Islam and immigration that goes beyond Donald Trump. Some members of an Inland Empire Tea Party group argue the massacre should prompt local officials to fight against welcoming Syrian refugees to the region. Some call it an “I told you so” moment. Los Angeles Times 


Mysterious visitor: For the second time in two months, a rare venomous sea serpent has washed up on a local beach hundreds of miles from its normal haunts. The species, known to scientists as Pelamis platura, was first seen in Southern California in San Clemente in 1972 during an El Niño. Los Angeles Times

Water standards: Water districts in the Palm Springs area are falling short of the state’s drought water conservation rules. Now, local officials want the state to modify the rules to take into account the area’s hot climate and “snow bird” populationDesert Sun

Water main break: Two homes were red-tagged after a water main break in the Hollywood Hills. The break triggered a mudslide that sent water and mud into the two homes. About 40 residents in the area were without water for 20 hours. City News Service


Zombie forest: Forests of nonnative trees, some 100 years old, are nearing the end of their life cycles in Elysian Park. "The L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks has no funds to remove hundreds of dead and dying trees and no plan to reintroduce native vegetation. As a result, much of Elysian Park is slowly becoming a zombie forest of angular dead twigs silhouetted against blue sky and the downtown skyline." Los Angeles Times

Working together: The decision to close Los Angeles’ public schools after a school board member received a vaguely worded threat showed that city leaders might need better coordination the next time there is an emergency. Unlike other big cities, the school district operates independently of City Hall and that may have led to a delay in reaching out to the mayor and even the district’s superintendent. “I think it is better to be brought in as collaboratively and as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. Los Angeles Times

Dog fight: How did allegations of anti-Semitism and elitism get caught up in a debate over a Beverly Hills dog park? “Governing a city with many clashing constituencies can be a challenging affair. But in Beverly Hills, where important people are used to being listened to, hearing everyone out takes extra time.” Los Angeles Times

Priced out: Take this as a sign of how hot the Silver Lake neighborhood is -- after 20 years, the popular Casbah Cafe closed its doors thanks to a 140% rent increase, its co-owner said. “Silver Lake as it was when we started the neighborhood is gone for good and we could not be the sole supporter for keeping Silver Lake as it started any longer,” according to a statement from the coffee shop. 89.3 KPCC


LAUSD leadership: Ramon C. Cortines' deputy Michelle King is assuming the role of superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District until a permanent successor is chosen, officials said. "The Board of Education had hoped to announce a new superintendent Saturday, but emerged from a closed door, 13-hour session with nothing settled." The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 5. Los Angeles Times

Own worst enemy: There is a tough question confronting Rep. Loretta Sanchez as she runs for the U.S. Senate: “Isn't it tough enough to run against [KamalaHarris, the moneyed Democratic front-runner, without also running against yourself?” Columnist Cathleen Decker looks at the congresswoman’s gaffes and what they mean for the campaign. Los Angeles Times

Time for raises: A tentative agreement with Orange County’s largest public employees’ union would give workers their first raise since the Great Recession. The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the three-year contract Wednesday. “They made significant sacrifices since the economic decline, yet worked everyday to provide quality service to our county citizens,” said Todd Spitzer, chairman of the board. Orange County Register

Housing protest: The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment protested outside the home of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Saturday, demanding $20 million to help Bayview homeowners and at-risk Mission District tenants. “In his five years reign as mayor, Ed Lee gave to me: A Twitter tax break, pay to play politics, thousands of evictions and the displacement of the black community,” protesters sang. SF Gate


Police shooting: Los Angeles police said an officer shot and killed a man in the emergency room of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Saturday. The man had been arrested earlier in the day after allegedly throwing bottles at an apartment complex. Police said he fought with officers as they tried to arrest him, which sent the man and officers to the hospital for treatment. Later in the day, as officers tried to take the man from the hospital to jail, he allegedly picked up a metal stool and tried to grab an officer’s gun. Los Angeles Times

Plane crash: Five people were killed Saturday when the single-engine plane they were in crashed into an almond orchard south of Bakersfield. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane as it traveled from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose to Henderson Executive Airport near Las Vegas. Authorities said bad weather may have been a factor. Los Angeles Times

Fraternity death: Authorities are investigating the death of a young man who was found unresponsive at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house near UC Berkeley. Los Angeles Times


Time for a cuddle: United Airlines will have “comfort dogs” at LAX this week to help frazzled travelers feel a bit less stressed. The 13 dogs are part of the Actors & Others for Animals nonprofit. Los Angeles Times

What’s in a name: How did the Golden State get its name of California? KCET


San Diego will be partly sunny and 65. Los Angeles will have some sun and a high of 64. In Riverside, there will be sun and 62 degrees. San Francisco will be cloudy with afternoon showers.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Dec. 21, 1947), former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (Dec. 21, 1948), DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dec. 21, 1950), former Dodger Steve Garvey (Dec. 22, 1948), former Gov. Gary Davis (Dec. 26, 1942), Archbishop Jose Gomez (Dec. 26, 1951).

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.