Essential California: USC medical school dean out amid revelations of sexual harassment claim

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Oct. 6, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Another USC medical school dean is gone

After the dean of USC’s medical school resigned last year amid long-running complaints about his drinking and boorish treatment of colleagues, university leaders assured students and faculty that his successor would be worthy of respect. The man USC chose, however, had a black mark on his own personnel record: a finding by the university 15 years ago that he had behaved inappropriately toward a female medical school fellow. USC formally disciplined the dean, Rohit Varma, in 2003. As The Times was preparing to publish a story disclosing the case, USC announced Thursday afternoon that Varma was no longer dean. Los Angeles Times

More details in the Las Vegas shooting

The gunman who fired on a country music festival in Las Vegas researched outdoor performance areas in Boston and other large cities in recent months, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday. But Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev. doesn’t appear to have traveled to most of those locations, said the source, who was not authorized to talk about the inquiry into Sunday’s mass shooting, which killed 58 people and injured nearly 500. Los Angeles Times

Plus: For second time in two years, this man got the same message from his fiancee: “Active shooter.” And so began a night of hell in Vegas. Los Angeles Times

Weinstein scandal

Harvey Weinstein, the pioneering independent film executive, will take a leave of absence from his namesake studio after a news report detailed decades of sexual harassment accusations against him. The article, published by the New York Times on Thursday, said that Weinstein has over the years reached at least eight legal settlements with women over harassment allegations. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Here’s the story that led to Weinstein’s leave of absence. The New York Times

California becomes a sanctuary state

Under threat of possible retaliation by the Trump administration, Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark "sanctuary state" legislation Thursday, vastly limiting whom state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities. Los Angeles Times

The next installment of The Times’ true-crime series “Dirty John” drops Saturday. Be sure to catch up on the first four parts and the podcast. Los Angeles Times


And the playoffs begin! Dodgers fans really, really hope this roller-coaster season doesn't end early. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Dodgers organist Dieter Ruehle is boosting the team's hip factor with savvy music. Los Angeles Times

This won’t be easy: California’s outbreak of hepatitis A, already the nation’s second largest in the last 20 years, could continue for many months, even years, health officials said Thursday. Los Angeles Times

DACA protest: Immigrant rights demonstrators blocked the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue in Westwood on Thursday morning, creating a traffic nightmare for commuters while police scrambled to restore order. Los Angeles Times


An executive departs: Another key executive at the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced his exit in recent days, the third such departure in less than a year for the troubled project. Los Angeles Times

Scandal in Tel Aviv: “Arnon Milchan, an Israeli intelligence agent turned Hollywood producer, has long cultivated ties with his country’s leaders. Now, he has become a political problem for the prime minister.” Wall Street Journal

Labor challenge: Does Antonio Villaraigosa have a union problem in the California governor’s race? Sacramento Bee


No prosecution in Oakland: Prosecutors Thursday dropped charges against an Oakland police officer in a sprawling sex scandal that drew national attention last year, marking the fourth case in which charges against law enforcement officers implicated in the controversy have collapsed. Los Angeles Times

Death penalty recommendation: A Los Angeles County jury has called for the death penalty for a gang member who was convicted last month of the 2008 murders of five people at a Long Beach homeless encampment. Los Angeles Times

Shooting in Boyle Heights: A man was killed and two people were wounded in a suspected gang-related shooting early Thursday in Boyle Heights, police said. Los Angeles Times


Delta project: With two key California votes on a $17-billion proposal to re-engineer the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta looming, Gov. Jerry Brown expressed confidence that water agencies will commit to enough funding to sustain the massive project. Los Angeles Times

Charlie! The wayward 200-pound Sulcata tortoise named Charlie has been reunited with his Jurupa Valley family. The Press-Enterprise


About those Chargers: The winless Chargers are having an awful time trying to grow roots in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

You’ll eat it up: It’s probably not a big surprise that there is a restaurant in L.A. that serves a chicken shawarma taco. But the story behind this Oaxacan-Middle Eastern eatery is inspiring. LA Weekly

Plus: “McDonald’s is bringing back a 19-year-old cult classic, Szechuan Sauce, for one day only in select markets across the country, including five locations in Central and Southern California.” Orange County Register

OMG: In the tech capital of the world, booming San Francisco has more than its share of first-world problems. SF Gate

Powering up: Tesla is eyeing a big expansion in the Bay Area. Mercury News

Memories of Petty: Times photographer Genaro Molina reflects on the portraits he recently took of Tom Petty just before he died. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 90, Friday. Sunny, 92, Saturday. San Diego: Sunny, 81, Friday. Sunny, 82, Saturday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 73, Friday. Sunny, 69, Saturday. Sacramento: Sunny, 89, Friday. Sunny, 88, Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Matt Mason:

“I grew up in Huntington Beach. When the wetlands were still oil fields, I used to throw my bike and surfboard over the fence and ride across them. The workers always looked at me funny, but I managed to shave about 20 minutes of bike riding time off my journey to the famed 17th Street break. Later as an adult, when the oil fields became the wetlands, I did my biology project there for college. Ingress and egress were lost forever. Soon even the free parking along the cliffs was removed. Lovely Main Street, once a sleepy beach place to hang out, soon became a yuppie alcove and the city lost its charm for me. I now live in Ventura, which still has that delightful beach soul. And I still surf religiously!”

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.

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