Newsletter: Essential California: More workers say their bosses are threatening to have them deported

Foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles.
(Charles Reed / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 3, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Interesting development

Complaints over immigration-related retaliation threats surged last year in California, according to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Through Dec. 22, workers had filed 94 immigration-related retaliation claims with the office, up from 20 in all of 2016 and only seven a year earlier. The cases include instances in which employers allegedly threatened to report workers to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, after they raised issues over working conditions, including wage theft. Los Angeles Times


An escalation

In a significant expansion into the criminal investigations of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said it was reviewing two sex crimes cases presented to prosecutors by Beverly Hills police detectives. More than 80 women — some of them prominent actresses — have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misdeeds spanning four decades. This marks the first time prosecutors in Los Angeles County have taken up cases against him. They will ultimately decide whether to charge Weinstein with a crime. Los Angeles Times

All roads lead to L.A.

For the hopefuls in California’s race for governor, the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles County is as mesmerizing as the blanket of lights that glistens every night from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Long Beach coast. The election will be decided here, where 1 in 4 of the state’s voters live. It’s diverse, sprawling, expensive to advertise in, and voters often don’t show up, especially compared with the Bay Area. That’s why anyone hoping to topple Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has to win the county. For two hometown Democratic candidates especially — former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang of Torrance — doing well in L.A. County is essential. Los Angeles Times


Treating PTSD

Hospital administrators nationwide are increasingly recognizing the toll of health workers’ day-to-day duties and the risk of burnout and symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem has been garnering more attention amid recent mass shootings and destructive fires. Los Angeles Times


Staying tough: As Los Angeles moves closer toward allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, joining cities across the state in the newly legal enterprise, police here offered a stern word of caution. Yes, recreational pot is legal to sell (and buy, and smoke, and consume.) But there are limits. And the Los Angeles Police Department will help enforce them. Los Angeles Times


Plus: How to navigate new recreational pot delivery laws. KPCC

In OC: Orange County sees a future in transit-oriented development as freeways get more jammed and driving gets harder. Los Angeles Times


A way around Washington: “California Democrats are toying with a brash scheme to skirt a new federal cap on state and local tax deductions: Instead of paying taxes to the Golden State, Californians would be allowed to donate the money to the state’s coffers — and deduct the entire sum from their federal taxes.” The Mercury News


Positive change: Alarmed by a survey indicating sexual harassment of hotel housekeepers is widespread, a California state lawmaker on Tuesday proposed requiring employers to provide “panic button” devices to their employees so they can summon help if abused by a guest. Los Angeles Times

The big idea: The Rust Belt isn’t the only region left behind by the economic recovery. The suburbs of the American West are struggling too. The Atlantic


A reduced sentence: A San Diego man who was serving 70 years to life in prison had his sentence cut to eight years by Gov. Jerry Brown, who slashed the term over the objections of local prosecutors. Los Angeles Times


No bail: A man arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of making a 911 call to police in Kansas as part of a deadly “swatting” prank is being held without bail pending an extradition hearing, authorities said Tuesday. Los Angeles Times

Sad story: A 22-year-old man who killed a rookie California Highway Patrol officer on Christmas Eve after slamming his car into the back of the officer’s parked patrol car was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder. Associated Press


Be wary! Huntington Beach lifeguards are reminding beachgoers to do the “stingray shuffle” when entering the ocean, as more swimmers than usual have reported being stung in the past week. Los Angeles Times


Changing times: As hotter and bigger fires blaze through the West and yet another year passes with a disastrous toll, America’s wildlands are having a harder time bouncing back. Some spots, from the singed valleys of Wine Country to the steep slopes of the Sierra, may never look the same. San Francisco Chronicle


Where’s the rock? The lineup for the 2018 Coachella Music and Arts Festival has been announced, and headlining the festival will be a trio of superstars: Canadian R&B singer the Weeknd, pop diva Beyoncé and Detroit rapper Eminem. Los Angeles Times

Two cool exhibits: In these two art shows, the political is personal for our post-Women’s March country. Los Angeles Times


The reckoning: In the wake of scandal, the movie industry is reckoning with its past and its future. The question now is can Hollywood change its ways? The New Yorker

Behind the scenes: How Molly Bloom went from “poker princess” to the “movie heroine” of “Molly’s Game.” Los Angeles Times

Electric cars: “Tesla Inc. may have delivered about four times more Model 3 sedans last quarter than in the prior three months, or boosted deliveries by a factor of 27, depending on which analyst you ask.” Bloomberg

Be like Mike? Former boxer Mike Tyson is ready to cash in on marijuana, which was recently legalized for recreational use in California. The Bleacher Report



Los Angeles area: cloudy, 74, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 73, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 70, Wednesday; sunny, 71, Thursday. San Francisco area: showers, 58, Wednesday; cloudy, 61, Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 62, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 65, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory, from Mike Letteriello:


“Our transplanted family from Pennsylvania moved across the country to a tiny stucco house on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, where we were its first tenants. My uncle had it built next to his duplex. Looking up and down La Brea from my front door to the south past Jefferson Boulevard loomed the Baldwin Hills, which were then largely undeveloped. To the north up La Brea past Adams and Washington boulevards were the Hollywood Hills. After I had discovered another ‘La Brea,’ the world-famous tar pits, on a field trip from our elementary school, I used to stare out of our little bay window onto a busy thoroughfare and imagine saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths, and mammoths wandering all over the area where human beings now drove cars. My imagination ran wild, and I wished I could see it all in a time machine someday.”

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.