Newsletter: Essential California: The state GOP can’t live with Trump, can’t live without him

COSTA MESA, CALIF. - JAN 21, 2019. Steve Frank, left, Travis Allen and Jessica Patterson, candidates
Steve Frank, left, Travis Allen and Jessica Patterson, candidates for California Republican Party chair, attend a meeting of GOP delegates in Costa Mesa last month.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 9. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Still smarting from historic losses in the November “blue wave,” Orange County Republicans gathered last month to consider a new leader and direction for the state party. Though President Trump wasn’t the topic of discussion in the Costa Mesa hotel ballroom where they met, he was probably not far from anyone’s mind. “All they want to tell us in the Republican establishment is you need to look and sound more like a California Democrat — to be a ‘Republican Light’ — to get elected in California. Is that true?” shouted former Assemblyman Travis Allen, an ardent Trump supporter running for California Republican Party chairman, before a chorus of “No!” filled the room. Los Angeles Times

From the fire lines


Infighting among fire leaders from multiple agencies during the largest wildfire in modern California history created a tense environment that trickled down to ground troops and might have endangered the lives of firefighters, according to a report released Friday. The report, compiled by staff from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Los Angeles Fire Department, focuses on an Aug. 19 incident in which a group of firefighters from L.A. and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection almost died when they became surrounded by flames from the Mendocino Complex fire. Los Angeles Times

Yorba Linda crash update

Years before his plane plunged into an Orange County suburb, killing him and four others on the ground, Antonio Pastini was disciplined twice by federal regulators for flying in dangerous conditions and lying about his credentials, records show. His license was suspended twice by the FAA when he was named Jordan Isaacson, according to records kept by the Library of Congress. In 1977, records show, he lost his license for 120 days after flying from Las Vegas to Long Beach in cloudy, icy conditions and lying to an air traffic controller about his credentials. Los Angeles Times



A new label: On Friday, the L.A. City Council voted to become “a city of sanctuary,” a symbolic gesture to align itself with immigrants in the age of President Trump. The motion had been delayed for more than a year. Los Angeles Times

Rats, rats, rats: The L.A. City Council also ordered a handful of city agencies to draw up an assessment of fleas and vermin at City Hall. City officials told council members they believe the rat infestation was triggered by the demolition of Parker Center. Los Angeles Times

Post-trade-deadline hangover: Sensing that the Lakers have been weighed down by persistent trade rumors over the last few weeks, Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, plans to meet with the team this weekend in Philadelphia. Los Angeles Times

Top-ed: Former New York City Mayor and perennial presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg weighed in on PG&E’s bankruptcy, arguing that it’s a consequence of climate change. Los Angeles Times

Plus: How the Green New Deal is shaping the race for president. Los Angeles Times

Go Bruins?! A 67-year-old former princess, the daughter of Thailand’s beloved late king and a UCLA alum, entered the race for prime minister Friday, upending next month’s elections and stunning a country where the monarchy is deified and has traditionally floated above politics. Los Angeles Times

What a world: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos remarkable Medium post alleging “extortion and blackmail” puts a spotlight on the National Enquirer’s hardball tactics. Los Angeles Times


Plus: Gavin de Becker, Bezos’ longtime security chief, may run his own consulting firm, write books, operate a private luxury terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and develop threat-assessment tools. But he is really selling only one thing: peace of mind.” New York Times

Not running but weighing in: “California billionaire Tom Steyer is cranking up pressure on key House Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump where he thinks they’ll feel it most — back in their home districts.” Politico

“Dixie” in Marin County: In Northern California, far from the battlefields of the Civil War, a fight over a school district’s name is pitting neighbor against neighbor. Los Angeles Times

Parole denied: California commissioners denied parole Thursday for a former San Francisco attorney serving a life sentence in a bizarre dog-mauling case that tested the limits of the state’s murder laws. Associated Press

Drug bust at the port: Federal authorities seized more than 1.7 tons of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin hidden in two containers that were being shipped to Australia from the Los Angeles-Long Beach seaport, officials announced Thursday. Los Angeles Times

More from the transparency wars: “Several local governments in California are using a recent rejection letter from California’s top lawyer to bolster their arguments that they should not have to release police misconduct files.” KQED

Anchor steaming ahead: One of the world’s best-known craft breweries is unionizing. Splinter

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1. Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime show tasted like fear. Los Angeles Times

2. S.F. Snow Day 1976. San Francisco Chronicle

3. A dying mother’s plan: Buy a gun. Rent a hotel room. Kill her son. Los Angeles Times

4. Sen. Kamala Harris learns the perils of presidential front-running. San Francisco Chronicle

5. Burning metal rained from the sky, bringing death and questions in Yorba Linda. 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

Watching one homeless encampment go away: “The state evicted a community from Caltrans land and bulldozed the encampment. The county paid for rehousing efforts. Here is what has happened since.” Desert Sun

The scene: The new generation of L.A. rap is changing everything. Noisey

Shaking up Virginia politics: A Scripps College professor has drawn support from fellow academics after going public with an allegation of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor of Virginia. New York Times

History lesson: Not just dragon dancing: the history of L.A.’s Chinatown Parade you might not know. LAist

Hollywoodland: Meet Teen Vogue’s young Hollywood class of 2019. Teen Vogue

Open to debate: The 25 most influential movie scenes of the last 25 years. Vanity Fair

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.