• Newsletter
  • Newsletters

The man behind the Ghost Ship

The man behind the Ghost Ship
The Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland after the December fire. (KGO-TV via Associated Press)

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Dec. 7, and here's what's going on around California:



Ghost Ship's captain

A closer look at Derick Ion Almena, the man who oversaw the Oakland warehouse where so many died on Friday. Some described him as a narcissist and an opportunist who deftly manipulated those around him. Others said he was an eccentric who wanted to help the Oakland art scene with his dream of turning the warehouse into a performance space. Los Angeles Times

Narrowing a possible cause

As the grim recovery of victims came to a close in Oakland, officials said a refrigerator and other electrical items inside the Ghost Ship warehouse were being examined as possible causes of the fire that killed at least 36 people. Los Angeles Times

Legal war

Some Bay Area lawyers said they already have been contacted to take on what is expected to be a huge and complex civil litigation over the warehouse fire. Legal experts say there are quite a few characters who could face legal action, ranging from the building owner and artist studio operator to the city of Oakland and concert promoters. But that's just the beginning. Los Angeles Times

Trump and the California economy

California is at the epicenter of some of the most fundamental changes Donald Trump has proposed for the national economy, in trade and immigration. And despite some fears of Trump's policies, some experts say California might actually gain. "I am optimistic about the direction we are going to see," said one UCLA economist. Los Angeles Times


Pearl Harbor memories: Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Lauren Bruner was aboard the battleship Arizona in 1941, and for decades he kept the experience to himself. Then he met Ed McGrath of Palos Verdes, and everything slowly changed. "We started just by talking about his life and his naval career," McGrath said. Los Angeles Times

A beach transformed: The look of Santa Monica beach will change radically with a major restoration project that will bring native plants to the sand. Check out these renderings. Curbed Los Angeles

Kids get Trump anxiety support: The Los Angeles Unified School District has set up a hotline and opened "extended support sites" to respond to a high level of student anxiety about the election of Trump as president. LAUSD Supt. Michelle King told students the goal is "to provide you with emotional support, enrollment and attendance information and referrals to outside resources." Los Angeles Times

Homeless vote: L.A. voters will consider a second ballot measure in March aimed at collecting large sums of money to ease the region's homeless crisis. Will voters be generous for a second time? Los Angeles Times



Defiant move: Council members in Santa Ana voted Tuesday to declare Orange County's second-most populous city a sanctuary city, a largely symbolic gesture to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally. Los Angeles Times

Turning a page: Struggling San Bernardino reached a major milestone Tuesday. A federal judge ruled that she would confirm the city's plan to exit bankruptcy. Los Angeles Times

Coping strategy: How Republicans are trying to deal with the new Democratic supermajority in the state Legislature. Los Angeles Times

The Valley and The Donald: Silicon Valley had little love for Trump before the election. But now, there is a big meeting scheduled between the president-elect and some (but far from all) tech titans. Mercury News

Coast battle: An epic battle over coastal access might be coming to a head. The California State Lands Commission decided Tuesday to explore condemnation proceedings as a way to gain public access to Martins Beach, where landowner and Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla has restricted entry. Los Angeles Times


Bomb threat: Investigators have found no evidence to corroborate a warning of a terrorist plot to bomb the Universal City Metro station. Los Angeles Times

Random attack: A 14-year-old boy was sucker-punched at random in a West Hills shopping mall. Now, he's recovering from a brain injury and asking why he was targeted. Daily News

KKK arrest: The California Ku Klux Klan leader who led a "white lives matter" rally that erupted in violence in Anaheim this year was arrested last week in connection with a North Carolina stabbing hours before a Klan parade celebrating Trump's election. Los Angeles Times

USC charges: A graduate student has been charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of beloved USC neuroscience professor Bosco Tjan on campus Friday. But the motive behind the attack remains uncertain. Los Angeles Times

Border scam: Inside a border smuggling scheme allegedly masterminded by a border patrol agent. San Diego Union-Tribune


Django-gate: The Los Angeles Ethics Commission decided Tuesday that a former police sergeant broke city rules by leaking to reporters an audio recording from his controversial stop of an actress from "Django Unchained." Los Angeles Times


Water savings: California enjoyed one of its wettest Octobers in recent history, and its residents responded by reducing their water use, state officials announced Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

Brown's warning: Gov. Jerry Brown predicted a global backlash if Trump tries to roll back efforts to deal with climate change, an issue that has been at the center of Brown's agenda for years. Sacramento Bee


Justice sought: California forcibly sterilized hundreds of people between 1919 and 1952 in what today seems like a twisted eugenics policy. Now there is a push to get these victims compensation and an official apology. Reuters

Time travel: Fashion icon and film director Tom Ford is living in Los Angeles and doesn't much like New York anymore. But he doesn't consider himself a contemporary. "I live in the Hollywood of the 1930s. I don't actually live in the Hollywood of 2016." GQ

Shot in the light: The incredible backstory of one of Los Angeles' most beloved and memorable photographs. Los Angeles Magazine

Financial dive: SeaWorld, which has been struggling for several years amid a loud debate over its treatment of whales, announced major cutbacks in San Diego. It's the latest sign of financial woes for the amusement park company. San Diego Union-Tribune

Grammy time: Beyoncé received nine nods to lead the pack at the Grammy nominations, which saw a youth movement this time around. The awards take place at Staples Center in February. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: Morning clouds continue with highs in the 60s. San Francisco: Showers will start in the afternoon, with rain continuing to end the week; highs in the 50s. Sacramento: Cloudy and in the high 40s, with rain coming Thursday.


Today's California memory comes from Ed Mitchell:

"My family moved to a 5-acre avocado grove in 1940 in Fallbrook in San Diego County. In 1941, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, my dad joined the Army, so we didn't see him again for 4½ years. My mother tended the avocado grove alone, and the government put out an emergency call for food of any kind. With so many men gone to war, there was no one to grow crops. My mother knew a man who had some spare acreage about two miles away, and it had a well on it. She went to him and said she would grow tomatoes on it if he would let her use the land and well for free. He agreed, so she grew tomatoes for the war effort. There was no contract, no liability policy, no lawyers, and no paperwork. Just a handshake. The pay for the tomatoes was minimal, as all farm products were price-controlled by the government during the war. That's the level of cooperation that you got, and everybody was patriotic."

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 Shelby Grad.