Newsletter: Essential California: Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go?

This image taken from video shows an Amazon package containing a GPS tracker on the porch of a Jersey City, N.J., residence after its delivery.
(Robert Bumsted / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Feb. 8, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Amazon at times dips into the tips earned by contracted delivery drivers to cover their promised pay, emails and receipts reviewed by The Times reveal. Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour. But if Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers. The company insists that drivers receive the entirety of their tips but declined to answer questions from The Times about whether it uses those tips to help cover the drivers’ base pay. Los Angeles Times

Trying to change campus culture


By detailing the horrific events of her gang rape two decades ago, one woman is fighting to end sexual violence on college campuses. Brenda Tracy travels the country to stand before strangers and share her most awful memory. Los Angeles Times


From the Bay Area to Los Angeles, it was a day to gaze upon snow-capped peaks, acknowledge that, yes, California does have a winter and share a photo or two on social media. Don’t expect the alpine glory — caused by a series of cold storms that dropped snow levels dramatically — to disappear soon. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Digging out from 11 feet of snow in Mammoth Lakes. Los Angeles Times


And: Some beaches look like trash dumps after the multiple storms in Southern California. Los Angeles Times

An institution passes

Karen and Barry Mason swear they never planned to sell porn for long. They were just really good at it. The cheerful couple’s Circus of Books store in West Hollywood survived the death of several employees during the AIDS crisis and fended off an FBI investigation. But it could not, at long last, survive the internet age. Los Angeles Times

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Metro Division: Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered Los Angeles police to scale back on vehicle stops in response to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times showing that an elite unit was pulling over a disproportionate number of African Americans. In a written statement Wednesday, Garcetti said he was “deeply concerned” about The Times’ findings that Metropolitan Division officers stop black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the population. Los Angeles Times

NBA update: As the Lakers miss out on obtaining All-Star Anthony Davis, LeBron James doesn’t feel like he’s chasing anything. Los Angeles Times

The lay of the land: To keep prices down, some L.A. homebuyers are sharing costs. But renters may pay a price. KCRW



El Jefe: ”When the mayor of Tijuana refused to apologize for comments he made about a caravan of Central American migrants, the coalition of human-rights groups who demanded his contrition couldn’t say they were surprised.” San Diego Union-Tribune

Plus: A new U.S.-Mexico border barrier charts a tricky course near homes. Associated Press



Rats! At a Halloween celebration at City Hall last year, a rat gnawed through a pumpkin put out for decoration. In another incident, city workers found a dead rodent decomposing in an office ceiling. And then there were the rat droppings spotted on at least two different floors of the downtown building. L.A. City Hall has a problem with rats — and leaders, fed up with the problem, are calling for an investigation amid fears about typhus. Los Angeles Times

Bay Area study: “The rising cost of housing in the Bay Area has dramatically resegregated neighborhoods by race and pushed minority families to the outer edges of the region.” San Francisco Chronicle

New poll: “Most Californians support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first budget proposal, especially his plans to increase funding for early childhood and higher education, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.” Sacramento Bee



Key decision: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion regulation that was expected to close all but one or two of the abortion clinics in the state. The decision came on 5-4 vote with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining with the court’s four liberals. Los Angeles Times

Charges dropped: Los Angeles officials have agreed to drop all criminal charges against one of the city’s most visible Black Lives Matter organizers as part of a negotiated arrangement, after hundreds of activists filed petitions, filled courtrooms and led rallies in recent weeks accusing prosecutors and police of using the charges to silence a critical voice. Los Angeles Times

Wanted: More than 40 years after a serial killer called the “Doodler” terrorized San Francisco’s gay community, police released a sketch Wednesday of what the man might look like today and announced a $100,000 reward for details leading to his capture. Los Angeles Times

Nice: Check out this new podcast about a team of criminals trying to steal millions from Richard Nixon. Orange County Register



Power play: California’s biggest utilities are losing their monopolies. Is that a good thing? Los Angeles Times

A fraught deal: The latest on Tejon Ranch. High Country News



RIP: Oakland native and baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has died at the age of 83. Los Angeles Times

Oscar nominee: Beyond “Roma” star Yalitza Aparicio’s Oscar fairy tale, the actress hopes to break barriers. Los Angeles Times

From the archives: Annie Leibovitz, the early years, now on view in L.A. Los Angeles Times

Caught on tape: An Herbalife executive told a colleague to ignore expense limits. Wall Street Journal


Yum: Warming up to Vegan pozole. The New Yorker

Yum, Part 2: Thanks to a larger-than-life taquero, Tacos 1986 is having its moment. Los Angeles Times

Real estate report: What $600,000 buys right now in three Ventura County cities. Los Angeles Times



Los Angeles area: sunny, 61, Friday; partly cloudy, 59, Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 61, Friday; showers, 61, Saturday. San Francisco area: rainy, 49, Friday; showers, 53, Saturday. San Jose: showers, 51, Friday; rainy, 55, Saturday. Sacramento: sunny, 59, Friday; sunny, 57, Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Kass Demeter:

“In the ’70s when my kids were little, I used to take them to Natural Bridges State Beach to romp in the sand and climb on driftwood. Back then, daring people would walk out on both naturally formed bridges at the edge of the sea. This was before a big winter storm took down one of them and made geological history. It’s gone but not forgotten. And we were there!”


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.