Newsletter: Essential California: A new ray of hope in a rainy teachers’ strike

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Jan. 17, and here’s what’s happening across California:


The Los Angeles teachers union and the school district will return to the bargaining table at noon Thursday at City Hall, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday night. UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl called on students, teachers and parents to remain on the picket line and show up for a rally Friday in Grand Park to send the bargaining team into what could be a full weekend of negotiations leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The district did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Los Angeles Times

How the endgame could play out: In the LAUSD teachers’ strike, which has lasted three days so far, the outlines of a possible deal are emerging. But sticking points and animosity could torpedo a quick resolution if the two sides dig in. Los Angeles Times

The face of the strike: Roxana Dueñas, who teaches at the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, is pictured head-on, her face framed by large glasses and dark hair parted to one side. Her image is plastered on billboards, classroom walls and the United Teachers Los Angeles website. Los Angeles Times

Roxana Dueñas, whose face appears on the widely circulated “Stand with LA Teachers” poster, poses for a portrait at UTLA headquarters.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Fired by the old boss, reinstated by the new one

Caren Carl Mandoyan played a special role last month at the swearing-in of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, standing on stage and holding the box of gold pins that would adorn the collars of the top cop and his senior executives. Mandoyan served as a trusted member of Villanueva’s campaign team, acting as his driver and rallying rank-and-file deputies to lobby their union to endorse his long-shot candidacy. But Mandoyan didn’t have the typical resume of a campaign worker. He served as a deputy for 10 years until he was fired in 2016 by then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell in connection with allegations of domestic abuse and stalking. A county appeals board heard evidence and upheld the dismissal. Despite this, Villanueva decided to reinstate Mandoyan as a deputy in the Sheriff’s Department, where he is assigned to the South Los Angeles station. Los Angeles Times

An ominous anniversary

The Northridge earthquake that hit 25 years ago offered alarming evidence of how vulnerable many types of buildings are to collapse from major shaking. It toppled hundreds of apartments, smashed brittle concrete structures and tore apart brick buildings. Since then, some cities have taken significant steps to make these buildings safer by requiring costly retrofitting aimed at protecting those inside and preserving its housing supply. But many others have ignored the seismic threat. And that has created a uneven landscape that, over the next few years, will leave some cities significantly better prepared to withstand a big quake than others. Los Angeles Times

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Scary day on the roads: The latest in a series of winter storms caused chaos on some of California’s roads, triggering a 19-car pileup amid thick fog on Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass. And in Oakland, a man seeking cover under a tree near Interstate 580 was killed when it toppled on him. Los Angeles Times

More fallout: With an FBI probe looming, L.A. City Council members revive a plan to limit developer donations. Los Angeles Times

What’s wrong with the Lakers? Luke Walton isn’t to blame for the Lakers’ recent fall, columnist Bill Plaschke says. Los Angeles Times

Plus: If you care about sports in Los Angeles and beyond, sign up for our new daily sports newsletter. It’s great! Los Angeles Times


Wielding the gavel: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi effectively delayed President Trump’s State of the Union address, citing security concerns amid the nearly month-old partial government shutdown while underscoring the political and policy paralysis behind it. Los Angeles Times

2020 watch: A dilemma for Democratic presidential hopefuls: Run to — or away from — big donors? Los Angeles Times

The new order: “Democrats’ unprecedented level of power in Sacramento — and new Gov. Gavin Newsom’s embrace of an expansive liberal agenda — has left the business community asking a question with ramifications well beyond California: How are we supposed to kill a bill in this town?” Politico

Frayed wires: As California enters a brave new energy world, can it keep the lights on? CalMatters


Remember this? A judge has ruled there is enough evidence for former NFL player Jonathan Martin to stand trial on charges he made criminal threats online last year by posting an image of a shotgun and a reference to Harvard-Westlake, where he went to high school. Los Angeles Times

Grim case: A Covina woman was charged with murder after her toddler son was found stabbed to death in her townhouse, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. Los Angeles Times

Paid out: “A Central Valley farmworker was recently awarded a $1-million settlement after suing his former employer’s attorney for reporting him to immigration authorities as retaliation for a wage complaint.” KQED

Big ruling: “A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.” Forbes


In Congress: EPA nominee Andrew Wheeler said during his confirmation hearing that he wants a deal on fuel economy rules with California and that climate change is neither a hoax nor the “greatest crisis.” Los Angeles Times

Snow man: “He’s ‘famous’ for measuring California’s snow. Now, he’s retiring after 30 years — sort of.” Capital Public Radio


Too bad: The Museum of Contemporary Art has announced that it will close its Pacific Design Center location next month. It’s exhibited architecture and design at the West Hollywood satellite for more than 20 years. Los Angeles Times

Near Sacramento: Elk Grove’s “ghost mall” will be demolished after more than a decade of sitting empty and incomplete along Highway 99, according to the city. Sacramento Bee

Eye opener: WeWork’s CEO makes millions as a landlord to WeWork. Wall Street Journal

No smoking: “Berkeley tells barbecue restaurant to stop barbecuing.” Eater SF


Los Angeles area: rainy, 63, Thursday; partly cloudy, 66, Friday. San Diego: showers, 63, Thursday; partly cloudy, 63, Friday. San Francisco area: showers, 56, Thursday; partly cloudy, 58, Friday. San Jose: showers, 59, Thursday; partly cloudy, 62, Friday. Sacramento: rainy, 57, Thursday; partly cloudy, 57, Friday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Manny Fernandez Jr.:

“As a native Californian, I was born back in 1947 and grew up in South-Central Los Angeles. My memories are of my neighborhood (74th Street) where I would walk everywhere, whether to school (75th Street Grammar School) or through the alleyways that were in the middle of the streets. I can recall after recess at school we would all lay our heads on the desks and try to recover from all the smog in the air. It really was hard to breathe that stuff. As a young kid, I sold newspapers on the corner, yelling out, ‘Get your Herald Examiner and Mirror newspaper.’ Back then, I recall the paper was a dime. It was a pretty carefree life. We played cowboys and Indians and baseball growing up. Every home had a trash-burning fireplace in the backyard. I guess that is where all the smog came from? Comic books were to die for. I read them as fast as I could get them into my hands. For fun, I would go to the 5 & 10 cents store and just marvel at all the stuff. How innocent the world seemed.”

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.