Newsletter: Essential California: Michael Avenatti faces new charges on both coasts

U.S. prosecutors announced Monday that they have charged Michael Avenatti with extortion and bank and wire fraud. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles said Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, March 26, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Los Angeles attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested on charges of embezzling money from a client, defrauding a bank and attempting to extort athletic-gear giant Nike in separate federal criminal cases filed in New York and Santa Ana. Avenatti’s arrest in Manhattan came just hours after a meeting with lawyers representing Nike that federal prosecutors recorded as part of a sting operation to capture him trying to extort millions from the company, according to Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Avenatti, a flamboyant adversary of President Trump, has denied wrongdoing. If convicted of all charges, Avenatti could face up to 97 years in prison. Los Angeles Times

California pushes back on the environment


Armed with some of the strongest environmental laws in the nation, California has been a leader in the Trump resistance. As governor, Jerry Brown repeatedly clashed with the White House over Trump’s policies on climate change and vehicle fuel economy standards. Since taking office in January, Gov. Gavin Newsom has continued the fight. Now the Trump administration’s attacks on environmental regulations are hitting a wall in California, where the state is using its own laws to maintain water protections. Los Angeles Times

A changing tune on criminal justice reform

Gov. Newsom has made criminal justice reform a centerpiece of his new administration. But he’s worked to block paroles of serious offenders in 33 cases since taking office, at a rate far higher than Brown in his final year in office. But what that signals isn’t entirely clear. Los Angeles Times

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More charges, maybe: As the college admissions scandal investigation widens, more parents are coming under scrutiny. Los Angeles Times

Buck update: The second man to die in Democratic donor Ed Buck’s West Hollywood home died of a methamphetamine overdose, authorities confirmed Monday. Los Angeles Times

Robin Abcarian’s latest: Kick out renters to make way for tourist hotels? The struggle for the soul of Venice Beach rages on. Los Angeles Times


DTLA: Success and the Sobering Center, created to treat “serial inebriates.” LA Downtown News


Our changing cities: Big backyards and pools are California’s past. Apartment buildings are its future, writes columnist George Skelton. Los Angeles Times

State lawmakers have offered legislation to discourage ranch-home suburbia and encourage densely populated, multistory living near transportation centers.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Paperwork reduction: Sick of those long paper receipts? California lawmakers are weighing a bill to ban them. Los Angeles Times

Also in Sacramento: State lawmakers will consider banning cosmetic genital surgery on intersex children. Los Angeles Times

Labor update: California is moving to codify a sweeping court decision curbing employers’ use of independent contractors, and the new law is unlikely to exempt Uber, Lyft and other app-based technology companies. Los Angeles Times

On the campaign trail: “Sen. Kamala Harris says federal government must step in to close the ‘teacher pay gap.’” EdSource



Principal dies: An East Bay man who police say was shot by his wife a week earlier has died from his injuries. Los Angeles Times

Decision upheld: A federal appeals court has unanimously upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against San Francisco for failing to alert immigration authorities of the release of the immigrant who killed Kathryn Steinle. Los Angeles Times

What’s going on? The LAUSDs powerful watchdog office has been closing far fewer investigations. Why? LAist



It’s all connected: Why housing policy is climate policy. New York Times

Protecting the coyotes: A reviled predator, often a target of “coyote whacking,” is gaining a flicker of respect. Los Angeles Times

Fire video: “A new film documenting California wildfires calls for solutions in face of climate change.” Desert Sun



Some personal news: The Los Angeles Times is joining a new paid subscription news service created by Apple that offers customers who pay a monthly fee of $9.99 access to articles from a selection of publications, many of which are otherwise behind paywalls. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Apple on Monday delved into the crowded market of streaming video, announcing an ambitious service that will feature its own original series and films, as well as content from its partners. Los Angeles Times

Big Baller changes: When Lonzo Ball decided to cut ties with Alan Foster, a co-founder of his family’s Big Baller Brand, he began divorcing himself from the brand itself. Los Angeles Times


It begins with a phone call: Nonprofit helps reunite homeless with family and friends through digital detective work. San Diego Union-Tribune

Data, data, data: WeWork wants to build the “future of cities.” What does that mean? CityLab

Big Hollywood fight: Writers have been rebuffed in their attempt to enlist studios to fight agents. The Hollywood Reporter



Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 72, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 68, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 69, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 68, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Cloudy, 61, Tuesday. Showers, 59, Wednesday. San Jose: Cloudy, 67, Tuesday. Rain, 63, Wednesday. Sacramento: Showers, 62, Tuesday. Showers, 63, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Kirby Timmons:

“I flew to Los Angeles in 1966. I was 20 years old and had never been out of my small community outside Atlanta. The cabdriver at the airport said, ‘Where to, kid?’ and I said proudly, ‘USC!’ I was a pretty green transfer student into USC’s then-not-so-well-known cinema department where I would surely become a famous filmmaker, right? As I scoured the oil derricks and maze of freeways outside the window, the cabdriver asked, ‘Ever been here before?’ I shook my head. And he then proceeded to take me on a convoluted, drawn-out ‘tour’ of the Los Angeles Basin. Like I say, pretty green. I later figured out, the cabbie was padding the fare. But the sights I saw — of oil derricks, orange groves, byzantine highways and palm-studded byways — were a memorable introduction to the city I would call home for the past 50-plus years. Not to mention a city where everybody is looking for an angle, even my cabbie. I did meet George Lucas and many other fascinating folks in my time living here. And I always smile when I take the ‘La Tijera cutoff’ to LAX.”


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.