Newsletter: Essential California: L.A. politicians didn’t throw away their shot to see ‘Hamilton’ for free

Law enforcement in front of the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for the Southern California opening night of the Tony-winning "Hamilton: An American Musical."
Law enforcement in front of the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for the Southern California opening night of the Tony-winning “Hamilton: An American Musical.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, March 10. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


When “Hamilton” came to the Pantages Theatre last year, Angelenos clamored for tickets to the celebrated musical. Some spent hours in line. Others ponied up hundreds or even thousands of dollars to scalpers for resold tickets. But for many Los Angeles politicians, getting into the hottest show in town was much easier. Instead of making them line up outside the theater, the Pantages came to them, offering each one a coveted pair of tickets to opening night. Most members of the City Council snapped up the two tickets. Some asked if they could get a few more: City Council President Herb Wesson ultimately accepted six tickets to the August show from the theater owner, a gift worth nearly $1,000, according to his office. That far exceeded the state limit on gifts to an elected official, which are capped at $470 annually from each giver covered by the rules. Wesson later reimbursed the company for the tickets, according to his spokeswoman. Los Angeles Times

A standoff with a tragic end


A gunman and three hostages were found dead Friday evening at a Northern California veterans home, concluding a standoff that lasted for about eight hours, officials said. Shortly before 6 p.m., officers entered the room at the Yountville Veterans Home where the gunman had been holding the hostages. According to the California Highway Patrol, three women and a man — believed to be the gunman — were found dead. Los Angeles Times

Pomona shooting: One officer was fatally shot and another wounded Friday in Pomona. Los Angeles Times

A new roadblock to affordable housing

The $1.5-trillion tax cut President Trump signed into law last year slashed corporate tax rates and gave businesses more money to spend how they choose. But in doing so, it indirectly cut the value of a crucial tax credit developers rely on to offer homes at rents that lower-income Americans can afford. As a result, developers are receiving less money when they sell those credits, opening up gaping budget holes that are delaying, even killing, their projects. Los Angeles Times

The story of some forgotten buildings

After practicing dentistry for decades in South Los Angeles, and buying up most of his block, Dr. Alan Kleinman walked away, leaving behind buildings that he has refused to sell to developers who think the riot-damaged area around Broadway and Manchester is ripe for a revival. Los Angeles Times


$$$$$: The California bullet train project has taken a sharp jump in price. The state rail authority announced Friday that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would total $77.3 billion, an increase of $13 billion from estimates two years ago. The rail authority also said the earliest that trains could operate on a partial system between San Jose and the farming town of Wasco would be 2029, five years later than the previous projection. Los Angeles Times

More $$$$$: With little fanfare, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and key members of the City Council have agreed to give police officers raises of up to 5% with no change to a controversial retirement program that pays veteran cops and firefighters nearly double at the end of their careers. Los Angeles Times

Cool interview: A bank president bridges cultures in downtown Los Angeles. New York Times

By the border: Federal prosecutors in San Diego announced Thursday that they have indicted 75 people nationwide, including 40 in San Diego, in a massive drugs and money operation that interim U.S. Atty. Adam Braverman called the biggest money-laundering investigation ever in San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune

A new way to help: “Los Angeles County — the birthplace of heavy-handed police tactics like SWAT teams, helicopter patrols and gang injunctions— is embarking on an effort that could make the nation’s most populous county a model for using a lighter touch with juvenile offenders.” California Health Report

Out in the desert: Tourism is booming in California’s desert. So why is Trump opening it up to mining? KPCC

Wow! A group of Risso’s dolphins, possibly as many as 100, was spotted recently just a mile off Dana Point Harbor. They are among the rarest of the dolphins seen off Orange County. Mercury News


1. California sends 20 millionaires to Congress. Here’s what we know about their fortunes. Los Angeles Times

2. Former porn star Sandra Scream’s new role: Irvine mom. Orange County Register

3. What’s an inclusion rider? Frances McDormand mystifies at the Oscars. Los Angeles Times

4. This L.A. neighborhood is the most gentrified in the US. CNBC

5. Video shows a heist at a Hermès store in a San Diego mall. Los Angeles Times


Awesome! The Netflix drama “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” which puts a feminist spin on the typically male-dominated superhero genre, is the latest television series to make the hiring of female directors a priority. For two seasons now, Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar” (OWN) has been directed entirely by women, while on shows as disparate as “The Deuce” (HBO), “Feud” (FX), “Jane the Virgin” (CW), “Transparent” (Amazon) and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu), at least half of all episodes have been directed by women. Los Angeles Times

Plus: How Ava DuVernay, Storm Reid and “A Wrinkle in Time” light Hollywood’s path forward. Los Angeles Times

That emotional support peacock: After a brush with fame, Dexter, the pet peacock who was refused a seat on United, has moved on. Los Angeles Times

The future! “The Lakers’ best players — Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma — are all between 20 and 22 years old, which means their peak years are still several years away. But this summer, they have an opportunity to fast-forward their timeline to contend for championships again if they can sign free agents like Paul George, 27, or LeBron James, 33.” ESPN

The trauma of ICE raids: “Teachers around the country report emotional and behavioral problems among their students as a result of ICE raids. Even kids from families under no danger of deportation are affected.Pacific Standard Magazine

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.