Newsletter: Essential California: Go Rams!

Rams quarterback Jared Goff prepares to take the field in a playoff game at the Coliseum. The team plays in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 2. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


The Rams are in the Super Bowl on Sunday. In their future home of Inglewood, that should provoke pure joy. But there’s also sadness and uncertainty. Next year the Rams will move into a majestic new stadium rising within walking distance of Ms. B’s M&M Soul Food Restaurant, the one with this banner out front: “Welcome Rams, Come Try Our Yams. Love, Ms. B.” Beverly Brinson has lived and worked in the Inglewood area since 1974, when she fled an abusive situation in Mississippi and rode the bus here. She was 25, and she carried all she had that was precious. “Two babies,” she said, “and $17 in my pocket.” But rising rents have left her at risk of losing her spot. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The Rams’ road to Super Bowl LIII was paved with many course-changing directions. Los Angeles Times


Major scoop: For years, Trump bashed the NFL and players who protested racial injustice. Here’s why he stopped. Los Angeles Times

Taco alert! The truck that started on the Slauson Tracks is appearing in a Super Bowl ad. LA Taco

In the booth: Meet the NFL ref who will serve as code breaker for CBS’ Super Bowl broadcast. Los Angeles Times

El Jefe: Rams owner Stan Kroenke brought the NFL back to L.A.; maybe a Super Bowl title is next. Los Angeles Times


Podcast: How are the Rams handling the spotlight? Los Angeles Times

The Rams’ only shot?

The Rams had better win Sunday, columnist Dylan Hernandez writes. “A chance like this might not come again. This Super Bowl run was the result of the Rams recognizing the special opportunity in front of them and seizing it. That’s not to say they can’t return to this stage again. However, they might never again have as many chips to push into the middle of the proverbial poker table as they did this season. ‘I guess you can look at it like that,’ running back Todd Gurley said.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: A Rams victory could be a sequel to “Heaven Can Wait.” Los Angeles Times


And: How do the Rams fit into Los Angeles pop culture? It’s complicated. Los Angeles Times

Union muscle on full display

Los Angeles Fire Marshal John Vidovich was at the peak of his career in 2015. He ran the city’s Fire Prevention Bureau, oversaw more than 150 employees and won awards from Mayor Eric Garcetti for his department’s work inspecting buildings for fire safety. But when Vidovich clashed with a group of fire inspectors working for him, he was transferred out of the post. That began a legal fight that exposed threats of vindictive paybacks and accusations of backroom deals involving top officials at City Hall and a powerful public employee union. Los Angeles Times



Stay inside: Be careful with the weather this weekend. It’s going to be fierce. Los Angeles Times

Supes versus sheriff: In a hearing at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ weekly meeting, newly elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva encountered frustration from its majority female members over his decision to reinstate a deputy fired over allegations of domestic violence and stalking. Los Angeles Times

The creator speaks: Weighing in on a statewide legal battle over law enforcement records, the author of California’s landmark police transparency law has formally notified the state Senate that her bill was intended to open up records from the past as well as those going forward. Los Angeles Times

Tough stuff: Serena Oberstein’s time on the Los Angeles Ethics commission, which she left in November, has raised questions about whether she is eligible to run for an open City Council seat. Los Angeles Times


Gruesome: Los Angeles police detectives on Friday arrested a civilian department employee on suspicion of murder in the deaths of his wife and son, the department announced. Los Angeles Times

Energy update: What you need to know about Clean Power Alliance, Southern California’s newest electric company. Los Angeles Times

In the O.C.: To fight the housing shortage, California is right to come down hard on Huntington Beach, columnist Michael Hiltzik writes. Los Angeles Times

History lesson: Willie Brown sees his protégés rise to the top. CALmatters


Understanding her record: “As a prosecutor, Sen. Kamala Harris pioneered the fight against online sex harassment. Then she overreached. Is she a savior, or a threat to the First Amendment?” Politico Magazine

Valley talk: “A new website exposes the extent to which Apple cooperates with Chinese government internet censorship, blocking access to Western news sources, information about human rights and religious freedoms, and privacy-enhancing apps that would circumvent the country’s pervasive online surveillance regime.” The Intercept

Invasion of privacy alleged: A Long Beach Police Department clerk has been charged with invasion of privacy after authorities said he filmed dozens of men in one of the Police Department’s restrooms. Los Angeles Times

Under review: Dozens of California Highway Patrol officers are being temporarily relieved of duty amid an investigation into whether they fraudulently received hundreds of hours of overtime pay while working out of the East Los Angeles station, officials said Friday. Los Angeles Times


Fined: Southern California Gas Co., California’s biggest natural-gas utility, was slapped with a $3.3-million fine, with state regulators accusing the company of putting its financial bottom line ahead of public safety by refusing to fully investigate a 2017 explosion that injured one person. Los Angeles Times

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1. Behind the story: How The Times reported on Tijuana’s massive rise in homicides. Los Angeles Times


A cluster of mass graves where unidentified bodies, a majority of them victims of homicides related to drug violence, are buried at Panteon Municipal Numero 12 in colonia La Presa, Tijuana.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

2. Meth and murder: A new kind of drug war has made Tijuana one of the deadliest cities on Earth. Los Angeles Times

3. How a dusty road became the Sunset Strip, “the most famous place in L.A. to misbehave.” Curbed LA

4. Gentrification is failing in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Daily News


5. Watching “Leaving Neverland” after a lifetime of loving Michael Jackson. Los Angeles Times


The door is closing: Many tech workers say the process of applying for and getting H-1B visas has become increasingly murky and difficult under President Trump’s administration. While many people zero in on Trump’s crackdown against illegal immigration, his administration has also tightened or ended various paths to legal immigration. Los Angeles Times

“It’s all there for sale”: The dark web puts a new twist on the age-old practice of counterfeiting. Los Angeles Times


The deported Americans: More than 600,000 U.S.-born children of undocumented parents live in Mexico. What happens when you return to a country you’ve never known? California Sunday Magazine

Heartbreaking: Was CTE stealing his mind? A gunshot provided the answer. New York Times

Back to basics: “My so-called plastic-free life. I tried for a month. Here’s what happened.” LAist

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.