Newsletter: Essential California: Felicity Huffman and other parents agree to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

Actress Felicity Huffman leaves the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston this month. She and more than a dozen other parents tied to the college admissions scandal will plead guilty, prosecutors say.
(Joseph Prezioso / AFP/Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, April 9, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents swept up in the far-reaching college admissions scandal have agreed to plead guilty after being charged in the scheme, according to court records. The actress and more than a dozen other parents, including Los Angeles marketing guru Jane Buckingham, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. The plea agreements added a victory for prosecutors. Los Angeles Times

Plus: California couple Davina Isackson and Bruce Isackson, president of a Bay Area real estate firm, are some of the people to plead guilty. Los Angeles Times


More fallout: Stanford University has kicked out a student whose application allegedly contained false information. Los Angeles Times

Perspective: Columnist Michael Hiltzik says a lax Internal Revenue Service let the college admissions scandal continue for years. Los Angeles Times

Missed warnings

Programmers warned that the 2018 launch of California’s “motor voter” system could be a debacle, but state officials rolled it out anyway, according to interviews and an exclusive Times review of documents. The launch occurred even after engineers detected signs of an international hacking attempt. The apparent hacking incident was the most glaring of several unexpected problems — never disclosed to the public — in rolling out a project that cost taxpayers close to $15 million. The Times conducted a four-month review of nearly 1,300 pages of documents and interviewed state employees and other individuals who worked on the project — most of whom declined to be identified for fear of reprisal. Los Angeles Times


Moving a forest to save the butterflies

The world is losing monarch butterflies at a startling rate, as logging, herbicides and other human activities destroy natural habitats. But the biggest threat yet has only recently come into focus. Climate change, with its extreme storms, prolonged droughts and warming temperatures, is poised to eradicate the forest that serves as the butterfly’s winter refuge. To help his beloved butterflies, Francisco Ramirez Cruz, 75, has partnered with scientists on a monumental experiment: They are trying to move an entire forest in the mountains of central Mexico 1,000 feet up a mountain. Los Angeles Times

Thousands of monarch butterflies cluster on the oyamel firs that tower in and around the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. Each fall, the butterflies arrive from Canada and the eastern United States, gliding en masse down over the rolling hills of La Mesa.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Big LACMA vote: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday to vote on moving forward with a planned redesign of the L.A. County Museum of Art. Critic Christopher Knight is urging them to reject the plan and go back to the drawing board. Los Angeles Times

RIP: Cho Yang-Ho, the chairman of Korean Air who built L.A.’s highest skyscraper but whose leadership was marred by family scandals including his daughter’s infamous “nut rage” incident, has died at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 70. Los Angeles Times

Blocked again: A federal judge in Northern California has blocked another Trump administration immigration policy, one that required some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S. Associated Press


Compare and contrast: Peter Guber, a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Dodgers, explains why the basketball team and the baseball team have different business approaches. Los Angeles Times


Behind the scenes: President Trump pushed out Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to get “tougher” on border, but how much further can he go? Los Angeles Times

Bringing it back? “Trump has for months urged his administration to reinstate large-scale separation of migrant families crossing the border.” NBC News

Dispatch from Guatemala: The booming business for smuggling people to the U.S. The Guardian

CDMX: Is this city the PDA capital of the world? Los Angeles Times


$$$: Sacramento wants to tax soda, tires, guns, water, pain pills, lawyers, car batteries.… Times columnist George Skelton gives his take. Los Angeles Times


2020 talk: “No other matchup would be as riveting — or as revealing — as Kamala Harris versus Trump. But first she has to get through the primaries.” The Atlantic

A chat with the mayor: Los Angeles is having a loud economic boom.” Bloomberg

Not just another dinner in Rancho Palos Verdes: Here’s what happened inside Trump National Golf Club during the president’s South Bay visit. Orange County Register


Deadly party: An off-duty San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed his brother after the man attacked other family members with a knife at a party over the weekend, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Identified: The man arrested in the fatal shooting of a woman during a custody exchange at the Hawthorne police station Sunday has been identified by police as 30-year-old Jacob Munn. Los Angeles Times

Sentenced: A Lennox man was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison Monday for killing a former reality TV show contestant with whom he was having an affair, prosecutors said. Los Angeles Times


Out in the wilderness: Teams from San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego counties are searching the Mt. Baldy area for two hikers who have been missing since Saturday. Los Angeles Times

Rescued: Four climbers descending Mt. Russell chose the wrong path and called for a rescue Sunday after getting stuck on the side of a cliff. They were picked up by helicopter. Los Angeles Times

Tallying it up: From ruined bridges to dirty air, EPA scientists price out the cost of climate change. Los Angeles Times


Fun story! Building a $1-million poker game for “Live at the Bike.” Los Angeles Times

No-go: UCLA’s search for a men’s basketball coach will trudge on toward its 100th day. Rick Barnes is staying at Tennessee. Los Angeles Times

A tale of two cities: “Three blocks from Mark Zuckerberg’s $10-million Tudor home in San Francisco, Jake Orta lives in a small, single-window studio apartment filled with trash.” New York Times

History lesson: How black residents of Long Beach fought racist real estate policies and influenced a nation. Long Beach Post


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 78, Tuesday and Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 69, Tuesday. Sunny, 71, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Cloudy, 62, Tuesday. Sunny, 65, Wednesday. San Jose: Cloudy, 65, Tuesday. Sunny, 70, Wednesday. Sacramento: Cloudy, 68, Tuesday. Cloudy, 71, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Lou DeCosta:

”When I was a kid growing up in Sacramento during the ’50s, my family would often take ‘Sunday drives.’ These would sometimes take us all the way to Lake Tahoe via the old Highway 40, which was a narrow and treacherous route over the Sierra at Donner Pass. A mountain on one side and a frighteningly steep ravine on the other. I remember quite vividly the rusted-out hunks of cars down the ravine that hadn’t made it. On the trip back, we had to jockey with an endless stream of logging trucks that hogged the road. It was always a scary trip.”

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.