Newsletter: Essential California: Miles from USC and the admissions scandal, these students sell food for college money

Students at East Los Angeles Community College react to the college admissions scandal. Authorities said the scandal centered around the owner of a for-profit Newport Beach college admissions company that wealthy parents paid to help their children

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, March 15, and here’s what’s happening across California:


What does the college admissions cheating scandal look like from the point of view of poor students trying to get into some of the same elite schools where the alleged fraud occurred? The kids at East Los Angeles College are working numerous jobs, and many would be the first in their family to go to college. To some, it’s so unfair. To others, it’s far from surprising. Los Angeles Times

— The scandal is roiling some of Southern California’s most elite prep schools, leading to resignations and questions as federal prosecutors seek student records from the institutions. Los Angeles Times


— Their parents face jail time. But what will happen to the children caught up in the scandal? Los Angeles Times

— Is this the L.A. parent whose tip set off the probe? Wall Street Journal

— Columnist Robin Abcarian’s biggest question: How could you gaslight your kids like this? Los Angeles Times

— Reviewing 11 lies that allowed children of the rich to get into elite schools. Los Angeles Times


— What exactly is the crime? New York Times

February showers bring ...

“It’s better than going to Disneyland,” says one park ranger, describing the unprecedented super bloom of flowers being seen across Southern California. But all those people mean a lot of flowers meeting with horrible deaths under the shoes of humans. Los Angeles Times

LAKE ELSINORE, CA - MARCH 9, 2019: The super bloom fills the hillsides with orange and purple color
Flowers compete for space in Walker Canyon.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

— It’s official: California is 100% drought-free. For the first time since 2011, the state shows no areas suffering from prolonged drought and illustrates almost entirely normal conditions. Los Angeles Times

— All that rain brings a season of potholes. San Diego Union-Tribune

— Social media and blogs were ablaze this week with photos of a so-called “lake” that formed in Death Valley National Park last week after another heavy rainstorm. It’s not quite that dramatic. Los Angeles Times

Drastic measures at the track


Why are many horses dying, and what can be done? Santa Anita suffered a 22nd horse fatality Thursday morning, just one day after the main track was reopened for training. A few hours after the death, the track’s owners banned the use of all race-day medication and restricted whip use in the latest attempt to stop the deaths. The medication decision, which will bring the track into alignment with standards established by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, is believed to be without precedent in North American racing. Los Angeles Times

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Taking precautions: Los Angeles police were beefing up patrols around mosques late Thursday after deadly mass shootings in at least two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. “While this attack appears to be an isolated incident with no nexus to LA, out of an abundance of caution we’re providing extra patrols around mosques,” the Police Department said on Twitter. Los Angeles Times

Very interesting: Several years ago, the Lakers seriously discussed leaving Staples Center and returning to a completely remade Forum in Inglewood. Los Angeles Times

“Jail is better”: A year-long investigation found three of Orange County’s emergency homeless shelters riddled with problems including reports of physical and sexual abuse, neglect of residents with disabilities and mental illnesses, and filthy conditions, according to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union. Los Angeles Times

A community responds to a teen suicide. Orange County Register

A badge-shaped cake: The Los Angeles Police Department turns 150. L.A. Daily News


At last: Construction has begun on the people-mover system to LAX. Curbed Los Angeles


Spa bombing update: A Long Beach man is facing additional felony charges after a federal grand jury returned an indictment against him in connection with the bombing of an Orange County day spa that killed his ex-girlfriend last year. Los Angeles Times

Avoiding life in prison: Anger over a plea deal for a man accused of killing a transgender woman in the Central Valley. Fresno Bee


A range of reaction: As word of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty spread, victims’ families reacted with varied emotions. Most have lived through grief, legal trials and long waits after the murder of loved ones, and their responses were a reminder of how personal and polarizing the issue has remained through the years. Los Angeles Times

More power to them: Are microgrids the key to reducing wildfires? Los Angeles Times


#SaveODAAT: Say goodbye to L.A.’s favorite sitcom family. Netflix is canceling its “One Day at a Time” reboot after three seasons because “not enough people watched to justify another season,” the streaming service said. Los Angeles Times

Welcome to San Francisco: Despite so much bad press about homelessness, crime and dirty streets, tourism in San Francisco is booming. San Francisco Chronicle

Valley talk: Facebook is losing a top executive, and that has become the talk of Silicon Valley amid another week of troubles for the tech giant. Mercury News

Berry Accius’ quest: This man tried to eat only at black-owned restaurants during February. It was much more difficult than he thought. Sacramento Bee

Mondo MOCA: An important — but not necessarily beloved — piece of L.A. architecture is back in the spotlight. Does it deserve better? Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 74, Friday; sunny, 79, Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 72, Friday; sunny, 74, Saturday. San Francisco area: sunny, 64, Friday; partly cloudy, 64, Saturday. San Jose: sunny, 69, Friday; mostly sunny, 64, Saturday. Sacramento: sunny, 67, Friday; mostly sunny, 70, Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Karen Abbey:

“In 1979, I discovered Morro Bay, after being raised in Fresno. When I would arrive on the outskirts of Morro Bay and the fog was rolling in, after leaving 110 degrees, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven! I still feel the same way about Morro Bay! Love it!!”

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.