Newsletter: Essential California: Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife are indicted

Duncan Hunter
(David Brooks / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 22, and here’s what’s happening across California:


U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges they used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to mask their actions. The 48-page indictment details lavish spending from 2009 to 2016, including family vacations to Italy and Hawaii, home utilities, school tuition for their children, video games and even dental work. Los Angeles Times

— This indictment partially stems from some dogged reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Check out some of their past coverage. San Diego Union-Tribune


Don’t forget about Bell

A 14-acre industrial yard along the 710 Freeway remains a stubborn symbol of the bad old days of corruption that plagued the small city of Bell. What to do with the site has sparked an emotional debate touching on the city’s corrupt past, because it was forced to sell the land in 2013 to help pay back money lost to the extravagant salaries and other misdeeds of ex-City Manager Robert Rizzo and other former officials in a 2010 corruption scandal. Rizzo and seven others were eventually convicted on multiple criminal charges. Now, a cement company wants to turn the property into a gravel yard, a plan fought by environmentalists and others who say the dust generated by the project would pose a health risk to the public. Los Angeles Times

An artist to watch

Lauren Halsey’s dream has been to build a monument to the Crenshaw District. At the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial, she comes one step closer to realizing that goal. For years, the artist, 31, who was born and raised in South L.A., has been working on a concept for a public monument that would in some way record and pay tribute to black life in the neighborhood that she is from. It’s a monument she aims to build collaboratively — with the aid of family, friends and fellow residents in South Los Angeles — and in a permanent fashion. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Three L.A. artists will receive prizes tied to the Hammer biennial — including the $100,000 Mohn Award for artistic excellence. Los Angeles Times

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Lauren Halsey with her installation “The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project (Prototype Architecture)” at the Hammer museum in Los Angeles,
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)



Denying the accusation: Actress Asia Argento on Tuesday denied allegations that she sexually assaulted a young actor when he was 17 but acknowledged that a settlement was paid to him to avoid a public spectacle. Los Angeles Times

One writer’s view: “Is it just me, or does Los Angeles feel a lot less safe these days?” Los Angeles Times

Another shooting settled: The city will pay $1.95 million to the family of Charly “Africa” Keunang, an unarmed homeless man whose fatal shooting by LAPD officers in 2015 set off days of protests and denunciations of the department’s treatment of skid row’s mentally unstable population. Los Angeles Times

What’s that?! The scoop on “that half-finished Target” at Sunset and Western in Hollywood? LAist



Following up: An immigrant in the U.S. illegally who was detained by federal officers in San Bernardino last week while heading to the hospital with his pregnant wife is one of three men listed in an arrest warrant for a 2006 murder in Mexico. Los Angeles Times


More meddling: “The FBI launched investigations after two Southern California Democratic U.S. House candidates were targeted by computer hackers, though it’s unclear whether politics had anything to do with the attacks.” Associated Press


Funny story: Two Republicans want to be called farmers on the ballot. Democrats say they’re not. McClatchy

Big $$$: “The 10 big Silicon Valley money players behind this November’s U.S. midterm elections.” Recode


More charges: The suspect in the Golden State Killer case will face 13 charges of kidnapping to commit robbery, in addition to numerous murder counts, and will be tried in Sacramento County, prosecutors announced Tuesday. Los Angeles Times


Big in Sacramento: California lawmakers on Tuesday passed a landmark bill that would overhaul the state’s cash-bail system, replacing it with one that grants judges greater power to decide who should remain incarcerated ahead of trial. Los Angeles Times

Defense fund: California Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas — who has been accused of molesting a teenage girl in 2007 — has set up a legal defense fund to cover lawyers’ bills stemming from the case, according to newly filed documents. Politico


Fun Steve Lopez column: Tim Rudnick identified himself as director of the Venice Oceanarium, which he described as “a museum without walls.” For years, Rudnick has set up tables at the end of the Venice pier, laid out all sorts of sea creatures, and educated visitors from two blocks away and two continents away. Los Angeles Times



Of course: The guys behind Coachella just opened an In-N-Out-ish vegan burger restaurant in Koreatown. Los Angeles Times

Uber update:Just over a year after Travis Kalanick was ousted as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing company released new financial results that showed continued growth and narrowing losses as it advances toward an initial public offering.” New York Times

Dodgers in the dumps? Dave Roberts remains himself amid pressure to change. Los Angeles Times


Uh-oh: The $150-million retail complex completed two years ago on central Market Street in San Francisco was supposed to be bustling with business by now, a centerpiece of the highly promoted revitalization of the Mid-Market neighborhood. Instead, it’s basically empty. San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 75, Wednesday; sunny, 76, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 78, Wednesday; sunny, 78, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 65, Wednesday and Thursday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 78, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 79, Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 87, Wednesday; sunny, 86, Thursday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Ruth S. DeShazer:

“I remember growing up in the ’50s/’60s in Glendale (East Mountain Street) with a ‘dry reservoir’ bordering our back alley. We heard mountain lions, coyotes and hawks, and we saw a family of baby red foxes with their mother along our alley early one morning. It was a charmed existence, with trips to Baskin-Robbins in Pasadena on Sunday evenings in our PJs. Bob’s Big Boy was a favorite restaurant. Mostly gone I think, but I sure hope the dry reservoir has been preserved — the way a true California takes care of nature. My home state is still so far ahead in so many ways!”

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.