Newsletter: Essential California: A new type of united government in Sacramento

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom watches the Assembly session at the Capitol on Dec. 3 in Sacramento.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

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


Single-payer healthcare. Universal preschool. Tuition-free community college. The California Legislature and the state’s next governor share a wish list of progressive policies. The big question is: Who takes the lead? After eight years under the fiscal restraint of Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators are ready for a new relationship with the governor’s office and a more balanced power dynamic in Sacramento. But as eager lawmakers introduce major policies with big price tags, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom has said he’s prepared to say “no.” Los Angeles Times

George Skelton weighs in: It’s an easy A for Brown in his final two terms as governor of California. Los Angeles Times


And: How Brown fits in among California’s greatest governors. Mercury News

Banner year in Hollywood

Deepening anxiety in Hollywood that the ascendance of Netflix would keep people from going to the movies this year appears to have been overblown. Major hits including Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and 20th Century Fox’s “Deadpool 2” drove ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada to a record-breaking $11.8 billion this year, according to preliminary projections from data firm Comscore. That would represent growth of 6% from a year ago and beat the previous record of $11.4 billion in ticket sales set in 2016. Los Angeles Times

Beautiful night


For the first time since the shooting, the owner of Borderline Bar and Grill hosted a dance for his old customers. Borderline’s brown stucco building in Thousand Oaks has been off limits since the shooting Nov. 7. Instead, on Thursday, more than 1,000 people — including many survivors and parents of some victims — gathered in their cowboy boots eight miles east in Agoura Hills, in a bar called The Canyon. But as the music played and the room filled, many felt the old Borderline warmth. Los Angeles Times

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Taking stock of a tumultuous year: Rocked by scandal, USC must heal its divisions and repair a broken culture. Los Angeles Times

Rick Caruso, chairman of USC’s board of trustees, talks to students on campus.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Steve Lopez on child poverty: Dimitri Dunn was born in prison, to the best of his knowledge. He is 19, and found out a few years ago that he has biological siblings, but no blood relative is a part of his life. Los Angeles Times

Dodger nation: Columnist Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers got the better of their recent blockbuster trade by simply getting rid of Yasiel Puig. Los Angeles Times

Gulp: “How to survive the oh-so-terrible LAX traffic this holiday season.” LAist



Readying for mudslides: Santa Barbara County approved a measure to install debris retention nets along mountain creeks to prevent deadly mudflows like the ones that hit Montecito in January. Flood control officials defended their preparations before that disaster. Los Angeles Times

Action needed: The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Editorial Board says the county’s high veteran suicide rate demands an immediate response. San Diego Union-Tribune

Good question: California’s bullet train project is pumping billions into the Valley economy. So why is it so unpopular? Sacramento Bee


They did what? The city of Inglewood has authorized the shredding of more than 100 police shooting and other internal investigation records weeks before a new state law could allow the public to access them for the first time. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Inglewood’s Mayor James T. Butts Jr. on Sunday defended his city’s decision. Los Angeles Times

More pushback: A police union is asking the California Supreme Court to block the release of internal officer investigations before the new state law takes effect. Los Angeles Times


Being prepared: Fallout from a scandal over sexual abuse claims has the Boy Scouts of America considering Chapter 11 protection. Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said the organization is “exploring all options available” to ensure that scouting programs continue uninterrupted. Bloomberg


Selfie problems: Until recently, an ancient forest near the California-Oregon border had never been cataloged by scientists, written about or photographed. Now that the secret is out, the grove is being loved to death by thousands of bushwhacking hikers and explorers. But parks officials and environmental groups have a $3.5-million plan to protect the majestic trees.” Mercury News

Fire fallout: “After years of wildfires linked to power lines, a deadly explosion and accusations of falsified safety records, California utility owner PG&E Corp. is facing a deterioration of trust among state leaders.” Bloomberg


Looking back: Fire, floods, caravan and a super blue blood moon — the year in pictures. Los Angeles Times

Heartbreaking: With tears like tinsel, we’re reminded that without grief, there can be no joy. Los Angeles Times

Way too much: Uber charged him $236 for a ride he didn’t take to a place he didn’t want to go. Los Angeles Times

Kicking it in high gear: Inside an Amazon warehouse in the final days before Christmas. Desert Sun

Yum: “A new independently owned delicatessen is coming to a sleepy section of Mid-Wilshire. Eleven City Diner LA has all the characteristics of an old-school deli and diner, and will serve traditional deli food blocks away from a cluster of corporate-owned restaurants.” Eater LA

Look at the candy! Gordon Getty shared his 85th birthday soiree with his granddaughter, and it was a fairy tale come true. San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 70, Monday. Sunny, 65, Tuesday. San Diego: Sunny, 66, Monday. Rainy, 62, Tuesday. San Francisco area: Rainy, 58, Monday. Sunny, 58, Tuesday. San Jose: Rainy, 60, Monday. Sunny, 58, Tuesday. Sacramento: Rainy, 54, Monday. Cloudy 58, Tuesday. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Former Dodger Steve Garvey (Dec. 22, 1948), former Gov. Gray Davis (Dec. 26, 1942) and L.A. Archbishop Jose Gomez (Dec. 26, 1951).

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.