Newsletter: The L.A. Democratic debate is back on

December 18, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Dec. 18, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.


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After much hand-wringing — and a successful bargaining session between a campus food-services contractor and a powerful service-workers union — Thursday’s Democratic debate in Los Angeles is back on at Loyola Marymount University.

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As my colleague Matt Pearce wrote, it’s “not often that a small group of food-service workers can dream of exercising power over an American political party.” But that’s exactly what happened. 

Last week, the Democratic candidates announced that they wouldn’t cross Unite Here Local 11’s planned picket line at the school, meaning there wouldn’t be a televised debate at the university unless the labor dispute was resolved. This meant the workers had a powerful bargaining chip as they headed into Tuesday’s bargaining session.

A tentative deal was reached Tuesday morning between Sodexo, the food services contractor, and Unite Here Local 11, which represents about 150 campus employees. The union credited Democratic National Committee Chairman and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez for helping end the dispute. (This was actually the second labor dispute to nearly derail the L.A. debate; it was originally scheduled to take place at UCLA but had to be moved to LMU in early November over another boycott.)

[Read the story: “December Democratic presidential debate in L.A. back on track as union reaches tentative deal” in the Los Angeles Times]

So, what else do you need to know before tomorrow’s debate? Here’s a look at where the Democratic debate candidates stand on healthcare, climate change, gun control, immigration and housing and homelessness.

And now, here’s what’s happening:

[If you haven’t already shared, we’d love to hear about your experiences for a year-end feature we’re working on. Use this form to tell us about how a news event or issue affected you, and we’ll share some of the responses next week.]


President Trump fired off a furious six-page letter Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has spearheaded impeachment, denying any wrongdoing in vitriolic language that often appeared to echo his deluge of daily tweets. On Wednesday, the full House is expected to approve two articles of impeachment against the president. Los Angeles Times


For Angelenos in search of a black Santa, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is your spot. Here’s my colleague Angel Jennings’ 2013 story about how the mall is one of the few in the country with a black Santa Claus, and what the tradition means to people. Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom approved fast-tracking the billion-dollar arena complex the Clippers want to build in Inglewood, as plans for the project continue to advance. Los Angeles Times

Awkwafina will star in and produce a movie about the role of Chinatowns in the nascent West Coast punk scene of the 1970s and ‘80s. The film will be based on “How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk, “ a much-shared Topic article from earlier this year. Deadline

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How two comedians at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles created that viral #MovesLikeBloomberg video during a live show, and how it then entered the news cycle. The video, which a tweet claimed was taken “at the Mike Bloomberg rally in Beverly Hills,” showed the UCB audience performing a semi-choreographed routine, which was actually intended to mock an earlier video of a Pete Buttigieg campaign dance. But the comedy bit was then widely shared online, igniting “a wildfire of confusion and assumptions about whether or not the people in the video were, or were not, real Bloomberg supporters.” New York Magazine

How California’s “woman quota” is already changing corporate boards: A bill signed into law in September 2018 required public companies with headquarters in California to name at least one female director by the end of 2019. “Researchers tracking the situation in California say the new law appears to be having the intended effect, with more than 90% of publicly traded companies based in the state now in compliance — and with women added to at least two dozen all-male boards just since July.” But it has also drawn legal challenges. CalMatters

Organizations representing freelance journalists are mounting a legal challenge to AB5, a new California law that aims to rein in companies’ use of independent contractors by placing certain restrictions on contract work. Los Angeles Times

Merced’s chief of police has announced his retirement after 23 years on the force. Merced Sun-Star


Victims of the 2016 Ghost Ship warehouse fire and their families will be allowed to pursue their civil case against PG&E in state court, per a ruling from the judge overseeing the utility’s bankruptcy case. San Francisco Chronicle


Non-native weeds are engulfing the ancient breeding grounds of Mono Lake’s California gulls. The number of gulls’ nests has been in gradual decline since 2004, and in steep decline since 2016, biologists say. Los Angeles Times


An Oakland transit planner taking photos of bike racks was held at gunpoint by luxury condo security. The longtime Oaklander had helped design the transit infrastructure that he was photographing at the time. Curbed SF

Google has fired another worker-activist, in what is reportedly the fifth termination of an employee engaged in workplace organizing in less than a month. The 21-year-old security engineer filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that her firing was an unlawful response to workplace organizing activity. The Guardian

A Long Beach punk band threw a hardcore show at an Orange County Denny’s and did some serious damage during the impromptu mosh pit. Eater LA


Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 66. San Diego: partly cloudy, 65. San Francisco: rain, 55. San Jose: rain, 55. Sacramento: rain, 53. More weather is here.


-Judy Garland

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Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.