Newsletter: Essential California: End of an era for the LAPD

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck after a Police Commission meeting on Oct. 3, 2017.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Jan 20. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Early retirement: Charlie Beck, the son of a police officer whose own career with the Los Angeles Police Department spanned four decades, will retire this summer, ending an eight-year tenure as police chief before finishing out the remainder of his second term. Beck was credited with major reforms in the department and a general decline in homicides but also had some missteps. Los Angeles Times

Mayor Eric Garcetti now faces a pivotal choice in picking a new chief tinged with politics, race, gender and philosophy. Los Angeles Times


— Will police shootings be the one dark mark on Beck’s otherwise strong legacy? Los Angeles Times

— Beck entered a department that was a military organization that mistreated minorities. He leaves it a majority-minority department that has won praise even from longtime critics. Los Angeles Times

Union vote: Journalists at the Los Angeles Times have overwhelmingly elected to form a union, a first for the 136-year-old news organization that for much of its history was known for its opposition to organized labor. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Los Angeles Times Publisher and Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn was placed on an unpaid leave of absence Friday as the paper’s parent company, Tronc, investigates allegations of inappropriate conduct while he was an executive at other companies. Los Angeles Times


Deadly flu: The death toll from influenza in California rose sharply on Friday, amid a brutal flu season that has spread across the nation. Los Angeles Times

More details in stabbing case: The 20-year-old Newport Beach man facing a murder charge in the fatal stabbing of former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein spoke openly on social media about his Catholic faith and conservative political views. Los Angeles Times

Cause of death: Rocker Tom Petty died last year from “multisystem organ failure” caused by accidental drug toxicity, the Los Angeles County Coroner said Friday. Los Angeles Times

One year later: Why “Trump” has become such a scary word for Republicans in California. New York Times


Problematic? Does the marriage of two top California water officials represent a conflict of interest? Sacramento Bee

How about one more? Another big skyscraper could be coming to the San Francisco skyline. SF Gate

Packing them in: The San Fernando Valley is about to see an increase in building density. Curbed Los Angeles

Shield your eyes: The Bay Area housing market has gone from bad for worse — if you are a buyer. The Mercury News



1. Children’s captivity in Perris: an emaciated girl’s window escape opened door to nightmarish scene. Los Angeles Times

2. Children found shackled and malnourished in Southern California home; parents arrested. Los Angeles Times

3. Perris family torture case: Experts weigh in on why parents may have done it. The Press-Enterprise


4. An LGBTQ college student was stabbed 20 times, but was it a hate crime? Los Angeles Times

5. Ellen Pompeo, TV’s $20-million woman, reveals her behind-the-scenes fight for “what I deserve.” The Hollywood Reporter


Famed street: Since the rise of rap in the 1980s, Rosecrans Avenue in South Los Angeles and Compton has served as the music’s West Coast spiritual home. Here is a musical tour. Los Angeles Times


Costly loans: Over the last decade, a certain type of loan has exploded in popularity as struggling households — typically with poor credit scores — have found a new source of quick cash from an emerging class of online lenders. Unlike payday loans, which can carry even higher annual percentage rates but are capped in California at $300 and are designed to be paid off in a matter of weeks, installment loans are typically for several thousand dollars and structured to be repaid over a year or more. Los Angeles Times

Whale of a tale: How some pranksters broke into Marineland in the 1980s and rode the whales. The Daily Breeze

Director’s tale: The late Hal Ashby was not a big-name director. But in Hollywood, his legacy remains beloved and somewhat controversial. Bloomberg

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.