Newsletter: Los Angeles feels the pension squeeze

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It is Saturday, Nov. 19. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Retirement costs: Officials here often say Los Angeles has done more pension reform than any other big city in America. But a Times analysis finds retirement costs now eat up 20% of the city’s operating budget — up from 5% in 2002. “With the money put into its pension funds over the last two years alone … the city could have fixed every one of its broken sidewalks, built or leased housing for more than 25,000 homeless people or restored 11 miles of the concrete-clad Los Angeles River to a natural state.” Los Angeles Times

Dangerous conditions: A new survey found an additional 36 million dead trees in California. The news brings the state’s total to more than 102 million dead trees since 2010. And more dead trees mean more potential fuel for a wildfire. Los Angeles Times


Repeating the past: George Takei was 5 years old when his family was forced to live in a horse stall before being moved to an internment camp in Arkansas. He’s speaking out about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II now that there’s talk of a national Muslim registry. “We cannot permit this invidious thinking, discredited by history at the cost of so much misery and suffering by innocents, to take root once again in America, let alone in the White House,” he writes. Washington Post

Lost and found: A Los Angeles couple reported missing after a trip to Joshua Tree was found safe in Mexico. Los Angeles Times

A non-voter: Kanye West is known for his rants. During a concert in San Jose, the musician said he didn’t vote in last week’s election but if he had, he would have supported Republican Donald Trump. “I wanted to say that before the election, but they told me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t say that out loud,’” West said. ABC News

Touchy legal battle: Is there a “touch disease” that is causing iPhones to malfunction? Inside the Silicon Valley legal battle over touch, pressure and frustration. Mercury News

What a mess: A foam blob took over the streets of Santa Clara Friday. BuzzFeed


1. Here’s a thought: Maybe don’t take your pregnancy photos at a nude beach. SFGate

2. Facing charges of healthcare fraud, this Newport Beach doctor faked his own death. Here’s what happened next. Los Angeles Times

3. A beautiful cartoon map of California is uncovered. Curbed LA

4. A time-lapse video of the supermoon over Los Angeles. LAist

5.These may be the 11 best food trucks in Los Angeles. LA Weekly


Double-arch ranch: A look at the private and luxurious Santa Ynez ranch McDonald’s built. “Locals wagged that it resembled a hamburger, but if that was true, this was a burger made from ground sirloin. Flourishes included a bathroom paneled in onyx in which hung a Cezanne.” Curbed LA

International Thanksgiving: Los Angeles chefs come from around the world, so their Thanksgiving Day menus are eclectic to say the least: turkey, champagne, pozole and more. LA Weekly

Fighting the establishment: Did Silicon Valley help create Donald Trump? “By fostering rampant individualism and a disregard for traditional institutions, the tech companies are now under threat from a candidate they helped create.” New York Times


Saturday: Football teams for Stanford University and Berkeley will face off in the afternoon. In Pasadena, crosstown rivals USC and UCLA kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday: The Los Angeles Mission will host its annual Thanksgiving meal.

Friday: The group Last Chance for Animals will protest throughout the Southland and urge shoppers not to buy fur on Black Friday.

A personal note: Readers, it has been a joy to write Essential California. Thank you for making this newsletter a part of your day. Reading your submissions for the California Memory has been my favorite part of this job. Now it’s time for me to move on to my next adventure. Don’t despair — Essential California will continue on in the capable hands of Shelby Grad. Sincerely, Alice

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.