Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Nov. 8. I’m Jeanette Marantos, a Lifestyle feature writer who mostly writes about gardening and plants, but this morning I’m here to trumpet the news (in case you’ve been binge-watching “West Wing” or “Gunsmoke” with blinders for the last 12 months): Today is election day!
And thank God the midterms are nearly over. … Except, are they, really? Because these days we can’t even agree on when elections are done. I mean, good grief. How many more conspiracies, analyses and righteously indignant reactions can our fragile democracy/constitutional republic bear?
So I’m been thinking, there must be something we can do. Even my most politically rabid friends have started playing online mah-jongg or taken a deep dive into the history of Spam (the meat, not the mail), anything to avoid another word involving election news.
And that’s when it came to me, the super binder that can bring us together, the one thing we can all agree is true:
Our nation has some really big problems.
I know, my ideas about the problems are likely different from yours, and that’s OK. We can agree to disagree on the details as long as we can come together on at least one important issue: Something stinks.
What really matters is that this is a place where we can all converge. And when it comes to pinpointing the details, as in, “What’s causing all this stink?” I’d like to remind everyone about this amazingly quiet, secret way to have our voices heard:
It’s called V-O-T-I-N-G, and in California, every U.S. citizen who resides in the state and is 18 or older as of today can cast a ballot, according to the California secretary of state, as long as they’re not serving prison time for a felony or deemed mentally incompetent by a court.
Even qualified people who didn’t pre-register to vote 14 days before the election can cast a provisional ballot today by contacting their county elections office and using same-day voter registration.
Or, if you prefer to go online, you can check your voter registration status or get a list of early voting locations that allow eligible people to cast a provisional ballot on election day. (There are dozens of locations in L.A. County alone.) Those provisional ballots will be counted as long as voting officials verify your identity and confirm that you didn’t try to vote more than once someplace else.
One other note: If you’re one of those last-minute voters who hasn’t already dropped off their mail-in ballot or plans to actually vote in person at a polling place (watch out, rain is in the forecast), there’s information that can help you too.
Unsure about where to cast your vote? Contact your county election office.
Confused about the issues? Go to votersedge.org/ca, enter your ZIP Code and get a full list of the candidates and issues on your local ballot. Or read our editorial board’s comprehensive coverage of the issues, in The Times’ electoral endorsements, or utility journalism editor Jon Healey’s breakdown of the roles of city councils, the Los Angeles mayor, the county and state, for those wanting to know more.
But coming together like this, sharing our despair, that’s got to count for something, right? Even if we never agree about problems, at least we’re pulling together to fix a country we love. That sounds pretty corny and simplistic, I know — “Plant a seed, grow a garden!” — but it’s a start. And really, isn’t that what voting is all about: you voting your issues, me voting mine, and hoping that somehow we’ll find a solution for the collective good?
So help me out on my unity bid. If you haven’t already, make time today to pinpoint what you see as our nation’s problems and vote to set them right.
I’ll be dropping off my ballot today too, so maybe, just maybe we can erase our national stink together.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.
Catch Southern California’s rare ocean light shows. Entranced by Patrick Coyne’s surreal photos of glowing sea foam and creatures, bioluminescence chasers are seeing their ranks grow, and no wonder: Once you check out these photos, you’ll be grabbing a camera too. Los Angeles Times
That brown lawn is worth some bucks if you make it disappear. But first Angelenos have to sign up for the city’s turf removal program, for which the incentive rebate rate has increased from $3 to $5 a square foot, with a maximum payout of $25,000. Of course, you have to do a few other other things too. Los Angeles Times
The Times is launching a new newsletter. It’s a guide to arts and entertainment events in the L.A. region both large and small. Whether it’s new comedy shows, indie opera, arthouse cinema or concerts at Disney Hall, the curated picks come to you by way of our expert critics and reporters immersed in all things L.A. The free weekly newsletter, L.A. Goes Out, launches Nov. 16. Sign up here.
Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more
These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
One guide to rule them all. Utility editor Jessica Roy, who recently brought us the riveting, horrifying story of how her life was upended by identity theft, has put together a less intense but still very handy guide to midterm election guides, for last-minute voters who need help to decide. Los Angeles Times
What if California seceded from the United States? In case you had nothing else to ponder, read the transcript from CNN’s “Downside Up” podcast discussion about whether California, with the world’s fifth-largest economy, could make it on its own. This “what if” discussion is led by host Chris Cillizza, with guests UCLA economist Lee Ohanian, California National Party President Sean Forbes and Richard Kreitner, author of “Break it Up,” a book about the history of secession efforts in America. CNN
Weinstein’s accusers face a loaded question: Why stay in touch with their alleged attacker? Some 17 years after Harvey Weinstein allegedly raped her in a hotel room, Kelly Sipherd testified that she went back into a hotel room with Weinstein because she wanted to confront him about the assault. But in the third week of the trial, in which eight women have accused Weinstein of rape and sexual assault, defense attorney Alan Jackson scoffed at Sipherd’s story. If Weinstein raped her, he asked, why would she willingly be in a room alone with him again? Los Angeles Times
California has the worst drivers. Bakersfield and Sacramento are at the top. But you can stop laughing now, because L.A. drivers are ranked the fourth worst out of the country’s 70 largest cities, based on 2022 data on insurance quotes, speeding tickets, driving citations, accidents and DUIs. Sacramento Bee
How four Bay Area companies are tackling the post-pandemic workplace. Dropbox is “virtual first.” Cloudflare has gone hybrid. DoorDash is “flexible,” and Atlassian is letting employees choose. San Francisco Chronicle
Anacapa Brewing Co. has closed its doors for good in Ventura. The county’s longest-running brewery opened in 2000 and closed Nov. 6, citing obstacles since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including “staffing, food costs, the economy, a lease increase and sustainable sales,” according to the company’s Instagram post. Ventura County Star
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How Owens Valley air pollution increases L.A. water bills. Staff writer Louis Sahagún explains that even if Los Angeles can make good on its goal to recycle 100% of its water by 2035, city ratepayers will still need to pay millions of dollars to control hazardous dust pollution in Owens Valley — an environmental consequence of L.A. draining Owens Lake more than a century ago. Los Angeles Times
Siskiyou County ranchers must pay $4,000 in fines for violating orders to cut back their water use — about $50 per rancher. That’s the maximum penalty they can be fined for pumping Shasta River water for eight days last summer. State officials and the ranchers agree: A $4,000 fine isn’t much of a deterrent to prevent illegal water diversions during California’s droughts. CalMatters
How a fun first date turned into dinner alone at Taco Bell. Her Hinge date texted endlessly before their scheduled meeting, but on the night of their first dinner date, he disappeared. Los Angeles Times
Lana Clarkson’s mom finally sets the record straight. Phil Spector killed her. The press tarred her. Now her mother, Donna Clarkson, has a chance to tell her daughter’s story in the new Showtime documentary “Spector,” and in this exclusive interview with Times reporter Meredith Blake. Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles: 61, rain, breezy. San Diego: 64, rain, breezy. San Francisco: 56, showers. San Jose: 56, showers. Fresno: 56, rain and showers. Sacramento: 54, showers.
Today’s California memory is from Roger Jones:
In the 1960s we used to visit Newport Beach with another family for two weeks. That was when the 91 Freeway had two lanes through the canyon. We would watch the blimps go in and out of the Tustin hangars off Red Hill from the back seat of a station wagon. I remember the waves in August coming in so strong the shoreline got flooded. The sand washed away and they brought in sand from Africa and put in the small jetty. Things have changed so much there.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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Jeanette Marantos started writing for the Los Angeles Times in 1999, doing Money Makeovers until 2002. She returned to write for The Times’ Homicide Report in 2015 and the Saturday garden section in 2016, a yin and yang that kept her perspective in balance. In early 2020, she moved full time into Features, with a focus on all things flora. She is a SoCal native who spent more than 20 years in Central Washington as a daily reporter, columnist, freelancer and mom before returning to the land of eucalyptus and sage. Her present goal is to transform her yard into an oasis of native plants, fruit trees and veggies.
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