Newsletter: Essential California: A reality check on Trump’s vision of a fortress along the U.S.-Mexico border

Macron and Le Pen advance to the second round of voting in the French presidential election. The Mexico-U.S. border to some is just a line they cross everyday. President Trump will soon mark his 100-day milestone, but will he score a tangible win? A

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 24, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Reality check

The twin border cities of Calexico and Mexicali offer a reality check about how much of a fortress the border can actually be. There, it is more like a doorway, with the economics, politics, culture and family ties of both cities bound in profound ways. Los Angeles Times


Wine war

Forget Napa. Some Chinese investors are betting that the oft-dismissed wine region of Temecula is poised to break out as a far bigger destination for oenophiles and tourists, given its proximity to Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. Los Angeles Times

Spoken words

“One day in the locker room I overheard an Asian gent tell someone he learned English by listening to the radio as a kid. Namely, he tuned in to the late Chick Hearn calling Laker games and Vin Scully calling Dodger games.” — Steve Lopez on the many ways language is learned in L.A. Los Angeles Times



Valley boy: Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick is perhaps the most controversial CEO in America. A look at how he became such a confrontational force, including growing up in the San Fernando Valley and dealing with bullies. New York Times

A candle burns: At Marshall High, a mother’s dedication keeps her daughter’s memory alive. Los Angeles Times

Winners: Granada Hills Charter High School has won the national Academic Decathlon for the third year in a row. Los Angeles Times

Ripped from the headlines: Not surprisingly, Donald Trump was the topic of much discussion at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Winners of the L.A. Times Book Awards. Los Angeles Times

And: Times Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Davan Maharaj speaks about journalism and writing in the Trump era. Los Angeles Times



Border fence follies: Before the wall, there were border fencing projects, and not all of them turned out well. Los Angeles Times

Anti-sanctuary: Kern County’s outspoken sheriff wants to declare his community a “law and order” county and not a “sanctuary” county. Specifically, he wants to ensure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers can continue to identify felony detainees in Kern County jails who are in the country illegally so that they can be deported upon release. Los Angeles Times

Dreamers deferred? President Trump as well as some of his top aides have suggested in the last few days that his administration won’t be targeting Dreamers. CNN


Money shot: Over the last week, California collected about $8 billion in state income taxes — more money in just a handful of days than New Mexico’s general fund receives in an entire year. Yet the sobering reality is that we need a lot more. Los Angeles Times

Powerful center: Many have tried to kill California’s powerful tax board. Here’s why no one has succeeded. Sacramento Bee

Cashless: San Francisco is poised to stop accepting cash on its famous, historic cable cars. San Francisco Chronicle

Caltrain woes: On paper, a major expansion and upgrade of the wildly popular Caltrain in the Bay Area would be perfect for Trump’s infrastructure agenda. In political reality…. Washington Post


Bumpy rides: Trying to improve the rider experience for those who use mass transit in L.A. Los Angeles Times


Missing boy: Scent-tracking dogs scoured South Pasadena in search of a 5-year-old boy reported missing after paramedics found his father passed out in a park Saturday morning. Los Angeles Times

SEAL charged: Authorities allege a Navy SEAL stationed in San Diego filmed himself molesting a sleeping girl, raped a woman in Virginia and kept a stash of child porn. Los Angeles Times


Park amid wasteland: California’s newest state park, situated on a former rail yard with a stunning view of the Los Angeles skyline, opened this week. It’s a testament to turning an environmental nightmare into an asset. Los Angeles Times

Salad tax: The end of California’s drought comes at a price — for your salad. Sacramento Bee


L.A. then and now: “I was first here in the 1980s, as a student. And when I came back in 2007, one of the first things I noticed is that everyone uses chopsticks now. Nobody did before. And so many Japanese phrases have entered English — omakase menu, daikon radish. The city has become much more cosmopolitan.” — Hitoshi Abe, an architect from Sendai, Japan. Los Angeles Times

Not a big surprise: L.A. is said to be the epicenter of the luxury children’s closet movement. “More children are getting boutique-style shoe racks, designer wallpaper and velvet-lined jewelry drawers, as well as practical accessories like baskets for superhero storage and rods to hang clothes for playing dress-up.” Wall Street Journal

Retro Disney: Big changes are coming to Space Mountain. Disneyland says the “Star Wars” theme is out and the ride will return to its classic look. Orange County Register

Strike talk: With a possible writers’ strike looming, TV networks and studios have been scrambling to come up with contingency plans, including delaying the premieres of scripted shows they planned to roll out in the summer months and brushing up scripts for movies nearing production. Los Angeles Times

Final verse: Some final thoughts from California’s outgoing U.S. poet laureate. Fresno Bee


Los Angeles: Cooling trend after a hot weekend, with highs in the 70s. San Diego: Partly cloudy and in the 70s. Bay Area: Chance of rain on Monday with highs around 60. Sacramento: Cloudy and in the 60s. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: chef

Alice Waters (April 28, 1944) and comedian Jay Leno (April 28, 1950).

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.