Newsletter: The government failure at the heart of the Oroville Dam crisis
Good morning. It’s Monday, Feb. 20, and here’s what’s going on around California:
The near-catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway grew out of fundamental problems with its original design — issues that were never corrected despite questions about its adequacy, documents and interviews suggest. “There is no way to rationalize running water down a hillslope with deep soils and a forest on it and weak bedrock,” an expert on geology and California water said. Los Angeles Times
Flood zone: For the tiny farming town of Maxwell, there was little warning before flooding inundated the hamlet. Los Angeles Times
Spotlight: The crisis at the Oroville Dam has brought national attention onto a long-running fight between state water officials and one Butte County official who has been an outspoken critic of how the dam is run. Oroville Mercury-Register
Warning signs: The damage to the concrete spillway was an accident waiting to happen, experts say. Los Angeles Times
Not over yet: This latest storm might just be too much for Northern California’s overtaxed flood control network. Los Angeles Times
Day of remembrance
The uneasy parallels between two presidents — Donald Trump and Franklin Roosevelt — and two executive orders singling out a class of people are resonating in the Japanese American community and beyond on the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese during World War II. Many internment survivors now feel an affinity with Muslims today. Los Angeles Times
Plus: Seventy-five years ago, The Times supported internment. Now the paper apologizes for its “shameful response.” Los Angeles Times
Voices of experience: Three former L.A. mayors gathered to share thoughts on running the city. Together, their terms spanned two decades marked by the Northridge earthquake, the San Fernando Valley’s threatened secession from L.A., and an economic crash that left city leaders struggling to stave off bankruptcy. But they didn’t agree on how to run the city. Los Angeles Times
Wake-up call: That sinkhole that swallowed up two cars during Friday’s storm represents the new symbol of L.A.’s infrastructure woes. Daily News
What timing: A fire this weekend at a Torrance refinery has heightened already deep community concerns over safety. Daily Breeze
Height fight: The battle over the Frank Gehry development on the Sunset Strip now seems far from over. Los Angeles Times
Pride goeth? There’s a plan to move the L.A. Pride gay parade onto Melrose Avenue, but some residents don’t like the idea. Curbed Los Angeles
POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
Change course? Are Latino leaders in California all wrong in the way they are fighting Trump? Sacramento Bee
Friendly warning: President Trump’s best friend in California has a warning for state Democrats. New York Times
Hope floats: Times columnist Steve Lopez, who has been crusading about the California coast for more than a year, argues the new head of the Coastal Commission is a good thing for people who love our beaches. Los Angeles Times
$$$$: Campaign spending in California broke records in 2016. Don’t expect the money train to slow down in 2018. Los Angeles Times
Bark: When it comes to California, President Trump talks tough. But his actions might have less bite. San Francisco Chronicle
Losing ground: Why the pay gap between men and women is actually getting worse in California despite new laws and more attention. Orange County Register
CRIME AND COURTS
Unpredictable: A wild week in the Robert Durst murder case offers the clearest sign yet of the evidence prosecutors plan to present. But can they get it in? Los Angeles Times
Familial strife: How a deportation has split up one family. San Diego Union-Tribune
Cold case: Fifteen years after a man kidnapped a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint, blindfolded him and then sexually assaulted him, Los Angeles police arrested a suspect after a DNA match cracked the cold case open. Los Angeles Times
Connected: Trump and other issues have brought protests and unrest on the Mexican side of the border. That has troubling implications for San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune
Expert opinion: Diagnosing President Trump. Los Angeles Times
Studio shakeup: Brad Grey’s expected exit from Paramount after a long and decidedly mixed run poses a host of questions for the troubled studio. Los Angeles Times
Academy debate: How political will this year’s Oscars be? And will it be politically correct to party hard? The Guardian
Dark side: Viewing the midcentury masterpieces of Palm Springs — in moonlight. The Guardian
Bay Area and Sacramento: Extreme rain storms and high risk of flooding near rivers and streams. Los Angeles: Chance of scattered showers Monday, clearing Tuesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy Monday and Tuesday.
This week’s birthdays for notable Californians include: Nobel laureate and UC Berkeley professor George Smoot (Feb. 20, 1945), media mogul David Geffen (Feb. 21, 1943) and actress Rashida Jones (Feb. 25, 1976).
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 Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.
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