Newsletter: Essential California: A father’s fight in Lincoln Heights

Romulo Avelica Gonzalez washes dishes in Lincoln Heights.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 5, and here’s what’s happening across California:


After 25 years in California, Romulo Avelica Gonzalez was stuck in immigration detention, wondering when, or if, he would be reunited with his family. Until that morning last year, he was part of the largely anonymous army of immigrant workers who are the economic backbone of Southern California — cooking for nearly minimum wage to support his family’s modest life. Then, his arrest made him national news, the subject of protests, vigils, prayers and countless articles. Here is the latest in The Times’ series on Lincoln Heights. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Léelo aquí en español. Los Angeles Times


YouTube shooting update

Before YouTube became the target of her violence, it was where Nasim Aghdam tried to build an identity and a business. She was among tens of thousands of so-called creators worldwide whose livelihoods rely on YouTube, and who in turn, provide the content that helps YouTube remain the internet’s dominant video platform. Creators with enough subscribers and views are eligible to share advertising revenue with YouTube for the traffic they drive to their videos. It is an arrangement that can be beneficial to both parties, but has proved fraught. Los Angeles Times

Plus: For weeks before she opened fire at YouTube headquarters, the 38-year-old San Diego woman made her rage at the video platform clear to anyone who would listen. Los Angeles Times

Troops to the border

The Trump administration announced a hastily assembled plan Wednesday to deploy National Guard troops along the southwestern border, hoping to make good on a promise the president made a day earlier that caught many in the military by surprise. Los Angeles Times

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Lopez weighs in: On one of L.A.’s steepest streets, an app-driven frenzy of spinouts, confusion and crashes. Los Angeles Times

In town: Saudi Arabian dignitaries came to Los Angeles this week with a clear message to entertainment industry leaders: Their country is open for Hollywood’s business. Los Angeles Times

Salacious: “The Beverly Hills attorney who represented a porn star and Playboy model in deals that buried their allegations of sexual encounters with Donald Trump in exchange for six-figure payouts said the ‘whole truth’ about the now-public scandal has not been told.” CNN


Big milestone: More than one million undocumented immigrants have received driver’s licenses, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday.” Sacramento Bee



Double dipping: Amid ongoing warnings about underfunded public employee pension funds, more than a dozen California state lawmakers are augmenting their $107,242 salaries by collecting retirement payments from previous government jobs, a practice that taxpayer activists condemn as “double dipping.” Los Angeles Times

There’s always an election: Contests to replace two Democratic San Fernando Valley state assemblymen who resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct are headed to a June primary with Democrats favored to keep both seats. Los Angeles Times

It’s a trade war: Who will blink first? China on Wednesday matched dollar for dollar the Trump administration’s plan to slap tariffs on $50 billion of imported Chinese goods, issuing its own list of U.S. products of comparable value that would be subject to hefty duties should the White House follow through with its tough trade sanctions. Los Angeles Times

And: The news of retaliatory tariffs from China upset “many California winemakers, who have spent years trying to carve out a place in the hearts of wealthy Chinese consumers. That hard work has earned them a prized sliver of what is becoming one of the fastest-growing markets for wine imports.” New York Times

Democratic overflow: California’s quirky primary system sends only the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, to a general-election runoff. In a year when Democrats are lining up in droves to challenge Republicans in the midterm elections, there is mounting concern among California Democrats that too many candidates are running in key races, potentially ruining their electoral opportunity.” Wall Street Journal



ACLU sues: The Orange County jailhouse informant scandal has upended criminal cases and led to state and federal investigations into how prosecutors and jailers used snitches to obtain confessions from other inmates. Now the scandal is heading to civil court. Los Angeles Times

More “sanctuary” challenges: A majority of the Fountain Valley City Council overcame a reluctance to spend public funds on joining the growing Orange County movement against California’s so-called sanctuary immigration laws after U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher offered Tuesday to foot the bill for the city to file a court brief supporting a federal lawsuit targeting the laws. Los Angeles Times

Untangling the facts: The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s inspector general is scrutinizing shooting investigations after KPCC reported on them. KPCC

Big roundup: “Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement agents have seized roughly 100 Northern California houses purchased with money wired to the United States by a Chinese-based crime organization and used to grow massive amounts of marijuana illegally.” Associated Press



Water wars: “Homeowners who live in San Francisco’s gated Presidio Terrace have been using up to 1 million gallons of city water a year to maintain the picture-perfect trees, walkways and flowerbeds along their private street — and the city has been paying the bill.” San Francisco Chronicle

See you in court! “More than nine years after Congress declared 100 miles of waterways in Southern California as wild and scenic, the federal agencies managing those resources have done nothing to protect them, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles.” San Gabriel Valley Tribune


Wowzer: Up to 87 million Facebook users had personal information improperly shared with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, a significant jump from what had previously been reported, the company said Wednesday. The affected accounts were mostly in the U.S., Facebook said in a blog post, which also outlined new restrictions on access to user data. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a House oversight panel on April 11 amid a privacy scandal that has roiled the social media giant, the panel announced Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

Merger troubles: Media mogul Shari Redstone has been the catalyst behind the effort to recombine CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., and she has grown frustrated by CBS’ seemingly strident approach to merger talks, according to three people familiar with the situation but not authorized to publicly discuss it. Los Angeles Times


Interesting numbers: Worldwide box-office revenue topped $40 billion for the first time last year, even as moviegoing continued to drop in the U.S. and Canada, reflecting consumers’ growing embrace of home entertainment options, according to a new report. Los Angeles Times

Cactus huggers, unite: Why cactuses and succulents are the perfect plants for this cultural moment. Curbed LA

By the beach: “Is a new California campsite registration system flawed? Some say ‘cheating’ makes high-demand spots like Crystal Cove harder to get.Orange County Register


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 68, Thursday; partly cloudy, 71, Friday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 65, Thursday; partly cloudy, 66, Friday. San Francisco area: cloudy, 60, Thursday; rainy, 61, Friday. Sacramento: cloudy, 67, Thursday; showers, 59, Friday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Alan Glass:

“My parents moved to Pacoima from the Midwest in 1958. I have such fond memories of all of us kids in the neighborhood gathering outside, playing throughout the neighborhood. Most mornings, we would hear the sound of the Helms Bakery truck slowly driving through the neighborhood, and when it stopped, the smells of fresh bakery, the wood-paneled drawers as they opened and presented all that goodness. I can readily admit, some 50-plus years later, that my addiction to doughnuts and pastries came as a result of that creamy yellow panel truck stopping in front of our house.”

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.