Newsletter: The story behind the mistrial in the Lee Baca corruption case

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, center, with his wife, Carol, right, and his attorney, Nathan Hochman, center left, leaves court after a mistrial was declared in his obstruction trial.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Friday, Dec. 23, and here’s what’s happening in California:


Corruption mistrial

It was supposed to be the culmination of an expansive prosecution of corruption and misconduct in the Los Angeles County jail system. After winning convictions against many lower-level figures in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, federal prosecutors brought charges against the man who had led the agency for 15 years. But on Thursday, a jury deadlocked on whether former Sheriff Lee Baca tried to obstruct an FBI investigation into allegations of abuse and other misconduct by his jail deputies. In the end, 11 of 12 wanted to acquit. Los Angeles Times


Ultimate loss

As L.A.’s crime rate begins to drift up again, the toll has perhaps been most painful for a small, largely hidden group of mothers who have lost more than one child to murder. “Every day I ask, why? Why him, why us, why me?” Here are the stories of three women who’ve had to face the unthinkable. Los Angeles Times

U.S. gateway

Powerful forces have brought migrants from across the globe — from Haiti, India, Bangladesh and various parts of Africa — to Tijuana, all hoping to reach the U.S. Los Angeles Times


Racial disconnect: Los Angeles is a city dominated by Latinos. So why is Hollywood still in “brownout” mode? A look at the “hidden Hispanics” of Tinseltown. The Guardian

Plus: This was the year Asian Americans took on Hollywood and won at least a few battles. Vulture

LAX hell: Planning on traveling through Los Angeles International Airport for the holidays? You might have better luck hitching a ride on Santa’s sleigh. Airport officials said hundreds of flights have been either canceled or delayed as the first of two rain storms caused gridlock for hours and forced authorities to switch flight operations Wednesday and Thursday. Los Angeles Times

L.A. snow: Many Angelenos are parsing the trailer of the new “Blade Runner” movie for a vision of L.A.’s future. One thing: It snows in 2049 Los Angeles. Entertainment Weekly


Migrant deaths: Examining a string of deaths involving migrants and whether the government should be doing more to protect them. Associated Press

Fresh prince of small: Bel-Air, which in many ways is the capital of the mega-mansion, is poised to crack down on new construction of the massive homes that one critic dubbed “essentially boutique hotels.” Curbed Los Angeles

SUV scheme: San Diego public utilities workers used city-owned vehicles for personal purposes last year — and one got paid $6,000 for time spent conducting personal business with a city vehicle instead of working, according to a city auditor’s report. Los Angeles Times


No charges: Prosecutors have declined to file charges against a vocal critic of the Los Angeles City Council who submitted a card during a public meeting with racially incendiary drawings. Los Angeles Times

Trash tower: A Boyle Heights recycling center is overrun with piles of trash two stories high and poses a health hazard to nearby businesses and the public, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office says. The property has an estimated 22 million pounds of trash in a pile 25 feet high, 252 feet long and 250 feet wide, the city contends. When a fire broke out there, it took six weeks to put out. Los Angeles Times

Trump spin: Why the settlement in the Trump University fraud case is a big defeat for the president-elect, even if he won’t admit it. Los Angeles Times


More rain? The heavy rains drenching L.A. over the next few days might be a sign of wetter things to come in drought-plagued Southern California. Los Angeles Times

Tunnel time: A new — and very long — state report says Jerry Brown’s controversial delta tunnel plan is the best way (and maybe the only way) to fix California’s water woes. SFGate


California brew: Fast-growing Escondido craft brewer Stone Brewing is eyeing a new market to upend with its unorthodox brews — a place with a beer culture so deeply rooted in tradition that it’s governed by 500-year-old purity laws that restrict ingredients to only hops, barley, water and yeast. Can this upstart Californian survive Germany? Los Angeles Times

Divided city: The long history of how San Francisco became such a segregated city. SFGate

No sprinkles for you: The rise and fall of an Orange County reality show’s cupcake empire. Orange County Register

Done with the Bay Area: Metallica’s James Hetfield is moving to Colorado from the Bay Area, and there is little love lost. “I kind of got sick of the Bay Area, the attitudes of the people there, a little bit,” said Hetfield. Mercury News

Divorce party: One Berkeley couple decided to divorce after 20 years. So how did they mark the occasion? By throwing a gala “divorce party.” SFGate


Los Angeles area: Rain and highs in the low 60s; a flash flood watch is in effect. San Diego: Mostly cloudy with highs in the low 60s and a chance of rain. San Francisco area: Rain and highs in the low 50s. Sacramento: Rain and highs in the high 40s.


Today’s California memory comes from Anna Moore:

“I was born and raised in the Bay Area but have been living in the OC for the last 30 years. My favorite memories are from my childhood. After Christmas the whole family would pack up and go to Lake Tahoe. The closer we got, the more beautiful the scenery, with trees covered with snow. I just remember as a child how in awe I was of Lake Tahoe.”

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.