Newsletter: Essential California: Can the next governor fix the state’s problems?

Can California’s next governor fix the state’s problems? It depends on Palo Alto.
(Cameron Cottrill / For the Time)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Sept. 24, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Much is made of the widening gap between California’s very rich and very poor. But just as significant is how the fate of the latter depends heavily on the former. The state scooped up just under $1 billion from nearly 9,000 tax returns filed in one tony Palo Alto ZIP Code in 2016 — more revenue than from any other ZIP Code in California. This system works well in boom times, but what happens when the next bust happens? Los Angeles Times

Plus: This is Part 1 of a special series by Times reporter Melanie Mason on the essential issues facing California’s next governor. We’ve asked the candidates — and our readers — for solutions. Los Angeles Times


Next in the series: Disaster in California: Preparing for the unknown.

Anyone there?

When citizens complain about police, does anyone listen? A Times analysis of complaint data reported to the California Department of Justice shows law enforcement agencies across the state upheld 8.4% of complaints filed by members of the public from 2008 to 2017. In a state with some of the strictest police privacy laws in the country, those who make complaints against officers are entitled to learn little more than whether their allegations were found to be true or not. They are given no other explanation about how a final decision was reached, what was done to investigate their allegation or whether an officer was disciplined. Los Angeles Times

Were privilege and race a factor?


The case was unique from the start: A white, blue-eyed teenager from the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes Estates was arrested in October on suspicion of murder in an alleged gang killing in South Los Angeles. About a week later, Cameron Terrell posted $5-million bail, grabbing headlines. He was in the spotlight again in July, after a jury found Terrell — the driver in the shooting — not guilty of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the death of 21-year-old Justin Holmes. Los Angeles Times

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Sept. 25, 1978: Shortly after the plane crash, a man used a garden hose to extinguish flames on Dwight Street in San Diego.
(Joe Holly/San Diego Union-Tribune)



Big vote: After months of demonstrations and protests, hotel workers at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim overwhelmingly approved a contract that boosts hourly salaries by at least 40% over two years and clears the way for staff to get bonuses that were promised last year. Los Angeles Times

All hail: The Lakers are getting used to having the King as its leader. Los Angeles Times

And: The Clippers’ curious new “executive director of research.” The New Yorker

Boarding school: After a 30-day testing period at Los Angeles International Airport, United Airlines has expanded a new boarding procedure that is designed to reduce passenger confusion. Los Angeles Times


Passing the plate: If there were any lingering doubts about the church’s stance on immigration, Archbishop José Gomez erased them when he put his name — and the church’s considerable influence — behind a fundraising drive for immigrant families who were separated while trying to enter the country. Los Angeles Times

Half a decade later: The heartwarming end to a Vietnam War family drama. Orange County Register


Up next: Immigrants who rely on public benefits for food, housing and medical care could be denied green cards under new rules put forth Saturday by the Trump administration that would in effect limit family-based “chain migration,” as the president calls it. Los Angeles Times


Inching back: Why are we not hearing more from the powerful union representing state prison guards? Los Angeles Times

Robin Abcarian checks in: Will this be another year of the woman in the California “flip the House” battle? Los Angeles Times

Perspective: For Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a career in the shadow of women’s rights comes full circle. New York Times

Plus: The cartoon version of California’s most famous political family. Sacramento Bee


Get more midterm election coverage on our Decision California page.


Sad: A “master herbalist” and the death of a young boy in Harbor Gateway. ABC7

Big mistake: Bay Area police thought they had a real-life “Gone Girl.” They were really wrong. SFGate


PSA Flight 182: Marking the 40th anniversary of San Diego’s worst air disaster. “It was awful,” said Verna Huger, 85, who opened her front door to find a neighboring house ablaze, smoke and ash choking the sky. “It was horrible.” San Diego Union-Tribune

Good sleuthing: How the search for one serial rapist helped catch another. Sacramento Bee

#MeToo: Ronald Reagan’s daughter says she was sexually assaulted by a music executive in the 1970s. Washington Post



Revolutionary: The San Francisco bookstore that has become a chronicler — and inspiration — for the California resistance. The New Yorker

Book excerpt: Mike Ovitz describes the ugliest divorce in Hollywood history. Los Angeles Times

It’s out there: The search for taco life west of the 405. L.A. Taco

Actor Justin Theroux on L.A.: “Life there is a very gate-to-gate, garage-to-garage, car-to-car, and that’s just for anybody. There is this kind of hermetic seal that’s placed around you.” New York Times


Full circle: A year after the Las Vegas massacre, the concert interrupted by violence finally finds an end, in Irvine. Press-Enterprise

Dreamy: A luxury “Airstream” trailer hotel coming to Yosemite. SFGate


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 79, Monday and Tuesday. San Diego: Mostly sunny, 72, Monday, Partly cloudy, 73, Tuesday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 69, Monday and Tuesday. San Jose: Sunny, 85, Monday. Sunny, 86, Tuesday. Sacramento: Sunny, 92, Monday. Sunny, 94, Tuesday. More weather is here.



This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Rep. Doris Matsui (Sept. 25, 1944), Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss (Sept. 26, 1961), tennis star Serena Williams (Sept. 26, 1981) and actress Gwyneth Paltrow (Sept. 27, 1972).

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.