Newsletter: Essential California: Verizon ‘throttled’ critical internet service during wildfire battle, fire chief says

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Verizon slowed critical internet service during a recent wildfire battle, according to the Santa Clara County Fire Department. Here, a firefighter battles the Mendocino Complex fire in July.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Aug. 23, and here’s what’s happening across California:

TOP STORIES

Santa Clara County firefighters were critically hindered by inadequate internet service while they helped battle the massive Mendocino Complex fire in July after Verizon slowed the speed of their wireless data, the county’s fire chief wrote in a federal court filing this week. While the agency believed it had paid for an unlimited data plan, the Santa Clara County Fire Department discovered its data connection had been “throttled” down to 1/200 or less than previous speeds as it fought the largest fire in modern California history. Verizon Wireless representatives told the department it had exceeded its plan limit for data and suggested the agency purchase a plan at more than double the cost, according to court documents. Los Angeles Times

Plus: What evacuees took when they escaped the fires, and what they left behind. Los Angeles Times

More on the Hunter indictment

The indictment of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and his wife Tuesday has suddenly turned his normally safe Republican House seat into a competitive race in a midterm election that was already looking grim for the GOP. Democrats across the nation had already been portraying President Trump’s Republican Party as a swamp of corruption. Los Angeles Times

And: What people are saying about the Hunter indictment. San Diego Union-Tribune

An olive branch in Anaheim

Amid growing animosity between Anaheim and Walt Disney Co., the president of the media giant’s Disneyland Resort asked the city to end all tax incentive deals in hopes of promoting “cooperation and goodwill.” The move marks an end to the way Disney has long done business in the hometown of its original theme park. By eliminating certain tax agreements, Disney may be ensuring that it isn’t affected by a Nov. 6 ballot measure that, if passed, would require the resort to pay all its workers a living wage. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles city firefighters battle a structure fire in a commercial building in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. STORIES

Happy birthday, Pete Wilson: Columnist Gustavo Arellano writes that the former governor made California what it is today. Los Angeles Times

Scary: A fire broke out in a commercial business in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, triggering a large response from firefighters and shutting down streets. Los Angeles Times

Great story: “This doctor treats LAUSD’s newly arrived immigrants. She was once one of them.” LAist

IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER

Big in Mexico: She spent five years in jail or under house arrest on highly publicized corruption charges. But Elba Esther Gordillo, a former powerbroker as head of the major Mexican teachers union, made a defiant comeback this week. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Got milk (or water)?: California lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring water or milk as the primary choices for children’s meals in the state, an effort designed to combat the health effects of sugary drinks. Los Angeles Times

In D.C.: Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. have risen steadily. Sen. Kamala Harris has a plan to change that. Los Angeles Times

In S.D.: “In the past year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s approach on addressing homelessness has shifted dramatically, but he’s continued to face setbacks, including his latest ballot measure failure.” Voice of San Diego

In S.F.: Mayor London Breed, who won her election largely on a promise to clean up the city, is stepping up efforts to scrub San Francisco’s streets, including playing a bit of cat and mouse with her own city department heads.” San Francisco Chronicle

Plus: “When she was married to gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, Kimberly Guilfoyle was once compared to Jackie Kennedy. Now she’s basically a Trump.” Washington Post

Budget problems: “California cities and counties have too few cops and too many wildfires to get a handle on their soaring overtime budgets.” Sacramento Bee

CRIME AND COURTS

Eek: Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina was found guilty of neglecting his sick dog that he kept at his auto repair shop in 2015, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Los Angeles Times

Really sad: At least three Rancho Cucamonga-area students killed themselves in August, but there is no apparent link between the deaths, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Los Angeles Times

Atomwaffen update: The attorney for a 21-year-old white supremacist who allegedly killed a former classmate because he was gay is saying his client has struggled with his own sexuality and autism spectrum disorder. BuzzFeed

THE ENVIRONMENT

Live at City Hall: Under a new plan being floated at City Hall, officials could try to block the reopening of a South Los Angeles oil site where neighbors once complained of nausea, nosebleeds and other ailments. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Exciting: A sequel to “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on the second book in author Kevin Kwan’s series of three, is in the works. Los Angeles Times

Lamar Odom: “I had 12 strokes and six heart attacks when I was in a coma.” Los Angeles Times

Not so sweet: The rising minimum wage is a welcome development for hourly workers, but it carries a price for employers and consumers. Case in point: Cheesecake Factory Inc. Los Angeles Times

Yum! Beating the city’s summer heat in Koreatown with boiling chicken ginseng soup. L.A. Taco

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles area: sunny, 81, Thursday; partly cloudy, 80, Friday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 78, Thursday and Friday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 64, Thursday; partly cloudy, 62, Friday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 78, Thursday; partly cloudy, 77, Friday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 84, Thursday; partly cloudy, 86, Friday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Paul Luthra:

“This is my story of how I got to California. At age 5, the family took refuge in India from an area that became part of newborn Pakistan. Settling in India was hard. There was a period of finding a place to live, and then my father succumbed to tuberculosis. I can count 32 places in India where we lived. Finally in 1972 I landed in Rochester, N.Y., for a PhD. In 1980 we ended up in Morgan Hill, Calif., via Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Dayton, Ohio. We were received very warmly in California and declared it to be the final home state. What a beautiful state!”

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.