Newsletter: Essential California: L.A. public schools try something new — marketing

Richard Ramos
Richard Ramos, principal of Haddon Avenue STEAM Academy, watches students walk to lunch on Aug. 19.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It is Monday, Aug. 22. Los Angeles’ firefighters beat the city’s police officers this weekend in a gyoza-eating contest. Here’s what else is happening in the Golden State:


Campus campaign

Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson is alarmed at the rise in support for Palestine among young people, so he and other supporters of Israel are bankrolling a multimillion-dollar campaign to win hearts and minds on six California college campuses. But one of the campaign’s tactics -- referring to pro-Palestinian students as “Jew haters” and terrorist allies -- has been called “thuggish intimidation.” Los Angeles Times


Good for business

There’s a manufacturing boom in Mexico. It’s already the seventh-largest producer of cars, and more auto companies are expected to open plants there in the next five years. There’s aircraft assembly lines and exports of steel, plastic and iron. That’s actually some good news for America. “That’s because the chain of goods that supplies Mexico’s factories is very different from the one for China. Simply put, Mexico needs to consume a chunk of U.S. goods in order to make its own.” Los Angeles Times

Environmental policy

California prides itself on environmental leadership, but climate policy has become the most fraught issue in Sacramento. A billion dollars sit unspent because of disagreements over how to spend revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. “It’s not like a savings account that we put in the bank and wait for retirement,” said Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “Climate change is urgent now.” Los Angeles Times


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Arrested development: A half-built Target in East Hollywood is still the centerpiece of a legal fight. It stands as an example of Los Angeles’ complicated system of building and permit approvals. It could be another three years until the fight over this project is out of the courts. Los Angeles Times

Legendary career: Nick Ut began a lifelong career with the Associated Press in his native Vietnam, where he stood on a village road outside Saigon and snapped a photo of a young, naked girl scorched by American napalm. “Without his Pulitzer Prize-winning frame of the ‘napalm girl’ — one of the most famous images ever captured in still photography — there is no Nick Ut, camera-carrying chronicler of L.A.” Now, Ut says it’s time to hang up his camera for the AP. Los Angeles Times

New development: Ports O’Call in San Pedro will be torn down this fall to make way for redevelopment. The $150-million project was approved last May. Daily Breeze


Sleepy campaign: Rep. Loretta Sanchez has about two months to catch up to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, her opponent in November’s election for the U.S. Senate. The sleepy race has worked out just fine for Harris, who leads in the polls and in fundraising. So what about Sanchez? “It’s much more unusual that the second-place candidate hasn’t been more visible and publicly aggressive,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. Los Angeles Times


Case for taxes: Columnist George Skelton makes the case for increasing the state’s gasoline tax for highway repairs. “Potholes spread. Bridges weakened. Concrete crumbled. Roads got more congested,” he writes. Los Angeles Times 

New slush funds: Ballot measure committees are supposed to collect money that will be spent in support of or in opposition to initiatives. Instead, the Bay Area News Group found the number of candidate-controlled committees has exploded and only $1 out of every $4 raised was used on an initiative. “Candidates are increasingly using these committees as slush funds for unlimited contributions from special interests,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause. Mercury News


Wrong woman: Why was Maria Elena Hernandez arrested by officers with the state Department of Insurance? It was a case of mistaken identity, though state officials didn’t realize that for two months. “The department deeply regrets the error,” according to a spokeswoman. Los Angeles Times

Family killed: A mother and her two children were struck and killed by a drunk driver Saturday night in Placentia, authorities said. Around 10:25 p.m., a group of police officers heard what sounded like a car crash. They headed in the direction of the noise and found the family. A 27-year-old man found nearby was arrested on suspicion of murder and driving under the influence. Los Angeles Times

Secret files: It took three years for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to comply with a judge’s order to turn over information gathered from jailhouse informants. And now there are concerns that a new set of secret records may have been started. Orange County Register


Tough spot: Drought and wildfires are threatening the mountain yellow-legged frogs. “Existing populations are descendants of a species pushed to the edge of extinction by urbanization, disease and the appetites of voracious nonnative predators including crayfish, bullfrogs and trout.” Los Angeles Times


Landmark in danger: The Chimney fire got dangerously close to Hearst Castle this weekend. The fire has destroyed 48 buildings since it began Aug. 14. “It’s a dynamic fire, and it has the potential to spread anywhere,” said Rich Brocchini, spokesman for Cal Fire. Los Angeles Times


New course: Competition from charter schools has forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to try something new -- marketing. “It didn’t matter that the principal had expanded the school’s mariachi classes or brought in a decorated speech-and-debate coach if none of the neighborhood’s parents knew about it.” Los Angeles Times

First generation: So much for the University of Spoiled Children. When USC’s freshman class moved into the dorms last week, more than 400 students became the first in their families to go to college. One of the first lessons will be figuring out the privileges that come with a private school education. “Where I see the big difference is they don’t know all of the things that they can take advantage of at USC or at any school,” said university provost Michael Quick. Los Angeles Times

Model teacher: Model Tyra Banks will co-teach a course at Stanford University next spring called “Project You: Building & Extending Your Personal Brand.” SFist


Money, money, money: How bad is the Bay Area’s income gap? By this measure, the San Francisco area is not as unequal as some may think. Cal Matters

Cooling trend: There are some signs the “Pokemon Go” craze is dying down a bit. Sacramento Bee

Cocktails and flapper dresses: This weekend, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles threw a festival for Angelenos looking to relive the 1920s -- or at least some idealized version of it. Los Angeles Magazine


San Diego will have low clouds and a high of 78 degrees. It will be mostly sunny and 82 in Los Angeles. Riverside will be sunny and 94. There will be low clouds and a high of 65 in San Francisco. There will be lots of sunshine and a high of 86 in Sacramento.


This week’s birthdays for notable Californians:

Chef Giada De Laurentiis (Aug. 22 ,1970), former Gov. Pete Wilson (Aug. 23, 1933), former Laker Kobe Bryant (Aug. 23, 1978), Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin (Aug. 23, 1982), musician Gene Simmons (Aug. 25, 1949), director Tim Burton (Aug. 25, 1958), Rep. Raul Ruiz (Aug. 25, 1972) and Rep. Julia Brownley (Aug. 28, 1952).

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.