Newsletter: Essential California: Taking stock of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy

Gov. Jerry Brown at his ranch near Williams, Calif., in 2017.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 2, and here’s what’s happening across California:


“In an experienced mind, there’s a knowledge, a depth. A clarity, a wisdom that is profoundly important. But there also can be rigidity, and a lack of imagination as people do the same thing over and over again for decades.”

-- Gov. Jerry Brown, in a wide-ranging conversation with Times Sacramento bureau chief John Myers, discusses his unprecedented tenure, looks to the future and takes on his critics. Gavin Newsom will be sworn in as the next governor on Jan. 7. Los Angeles Times


More on the Brown legacy:

-- The biggest lesson Jerry Brown learned from his father, Pat Brown: Investing in California’s future. Los Angeles Times

-- The complex relationship of father and son. CALmatters

-- Brown proved the haters wrong: California is actually governable. The Atlantic

-- What Brown fixed, what he didn’t. San Francisco Chronicle

-- The state he leaves: Budget in the black, but still many red flags. Sacramento Bee

-- He says climate change is akin to fighting World War II. NBC News

-- Brown’s new home is a place that never voted for him. CALmatters

-- A permanent state of resistance. New York Review of Books

-- Five tips from Brown as he exits the stage. Mercury News

BEST OF 2018

This is the final installment of our look at the best California stories of 2018.

A series of federal immigration raids on 7-Eleven stores across California and the nation seemed to be simply a front on the Trump crackdown. But it also is part of a civil war within the retailing giant, as the corporate and individual store operators do battle. By Lauren Etter and Michael Smith, Bloomberg

A monster mudslide killed more than 20 people in Montecito. It seemed like a freak act of nature. But it turned out the upscale coastal community had been warned for decades that heavy rains could destroy the town. Time and again, officials chose not to take action to better protect the community of Oprah and other celebrities. Until it was too late. By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times

Lena Dunham was the New York “It” girl a few years ago, the subject of fascination and endless hot takes. Now, she’s living in L.A. and trying to navigate a different kind of celebrity life, or so she says. Is she a case of profound self-destruction or simply building her brand in ways that confound even the taste makers? By Allison P. Davis, The Cut

Before the #MeToo movement, there was the case of Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. Here’s the exhaustive story of how a sexual assault case became a national moment where some found their voice and where the punishment handed down seemed like a crime. By Julia Ioffe, Huffington Post

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The Rose Parade had 40 floats, 21 marching bands and a proud Jewish, LGBTQ queen. There was also a small fire, a lot of cheers and many layers of clothing. Los Angeles Times

The UPS Store float, "Books Keep Us on Our Toes," rolls past the spectators on Orange Grove Boulevard during the 130th Rose Parade in Pasadena.
(Mark Boster / For The Times)

Firing the coach was easy: After a tough time in UCLA basketball, now the hard part begins. Los Angeles Times

New Year’s resolution: Can your family really go plastic-free? This woman’s going to try in January. LAist


Anatomy of a cybercrime: Ryuk, a malware program believed to have been used in an attack this weekend that hobbled newspapers nationwide, including the Los Angeles Times, is a sophisticated twist on an extortionate classic. Los Angeles Times

“We do survive”: The wives of slain officers offer a reminder of the grief ahead for one woman. Modesto Bee


Another border clash: A group of about 150 migrants attempted to breach a San Diego border fence on New Year’s Eve, and some began throwing rocks at responding U.S. border agents, who deployed pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

A personal quest: Young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” have become a political force over the last two decades as they have pushed Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. After big success in November, where do they go from here? Los Angeles Times

New laws in the workplace: For minimum-wage earners, port truckers, farm laborers, sexual harassment victims, nursing mothers, high-powered female executives and workers injured on the job, 2019 offers reason to celebrate. Los Angeles Times


Going up: The tolls on Bay Area bridges are rising. Will it cause reductions in traffic? Some hope so. San Francisco Chronicle

The exodus: More people are relocating out of the Bay Area than anywhere else in the nation. Mercury News

Survey says … : With the new year, assessing what is right and wrong about California. Orange County Register

On screen: Why “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” might be the holiest of superhero movies, and a true Hollywood original. The New Yorker

A sneak peek at “Star Wars” land: Disneyland is making a billion-dollar bet that “Star Wars” fans will want to climb into the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon, rub elbows with a bounty hunter in a disreputable cantina and wander through a smuggler’s alley in search of the perfect intergalactic souvenir. San Diego Union-Tribune

Small world: The Disney “cast member” who became a celebrity online. Press-Enterprise

Yikes: Is this really Kevin Spacey’s comeback? Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 64, Wednesday. Sunny, 67, Thursday. San Diego: Sunny, 61, Wednesday. Sunny, 64, Thursday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 54, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 54, Thursday. San Jose: Sunny, 58, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 58, Thursday. Sacramento: Sunny, 53, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 55, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Allen Hurlburt:

“1960. The Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo, first in the U.S. Giant pizza for $1.95. Fresh seafood in Morro Bay; four college guys fed for under 10 bucks. Gallo Winery in Paso Robles; dollar a gallon for red. We called it, ‘buck and a half for a gallon and a half.’ The horrible globs of crude oil at Avila Beach as well as Santa Barbara beaches. And last but not least, graduating from Cal Poly with a B.S. degree in 1963, debt-free and without any financial help from my family.”

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.