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Essential California: USC had many warnings about medical school dean's behavior but took little action

Essential California: USC had many warnings about medical school dean's behavior but took little action
Dr. Carmen Puliafito in 2015. (Alex J. Berliner / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Tuesday, Nov. 14, and here's what's happening across California:



What they knew and when they knew it

Complaints about Dr. Carmen Puliafito's drinking began to reach USC administrators more than five years ago. Then in 2016, and again last March, the university received information that the then-dean of USC's Keck School of Medicine was in a hotel room with a young woman when she suffered a drug overdose. But USC allowed Puliafito to remain at the Keck school, where the renowned eye surgeon continued to treat patients. The university did not report him to the California Medical Board during that period, a USC source confirmed. The board routinely suspends physicians from patient care if they are suspected of being impaired by alcohol or drugs. Los Angeles Times

Fascinating story

An FBI informant dubbed "Captain America" helped build a corruption case against L.A. County sheriff's officials. But Albino Mendoza wasn't the man investigators thought he was. Los Angeles Times

Meet the Clampers!

America is full of memorials for epic battles and soaring monuments and somber cradles of famous historical figures. The men of E Clampus Vitus — a.k.a. the Clampers — don't bother with those. "We believe in the absurd," said Gene Koen, a Clamper from Oroville. In Truckee, the group paid homage to the Tin Can bar from the early 1900s and Dot's Place, a brothel. In Mono County, a Clampers plaque honors the Legend of June Lake Slot Machines: illegal machines said to have been tossed in the lake in the 1940s and sought by cold-water divers. In a kind of running theme, the Clampers seem to celebrate a fair number of places overtaken, biblical-like, by water. Los Angeles Times


Bruins update: The three UCLA basketball players enmeshed in a legal fiasco in China emerged publicly for the first time Monday and a spokesman insisted they are "doing fine." Los Angeles Times

Plus: President Trump has personally intervened on behalf of the three players, asking his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help settle the case, a top White House spokesman said Monday. Los Angeles Times

Fake signs? Amid the stress of L.A. traffic, fake street signs aim to help people chill out and get Zen. Los Angeles Times

On the horizon: The Tartine group is roasting its own coffee, and they're opening a roasting facility in downtown Los Angeles with a coffee lab. Los Angeles Times


Bringing in help: In a break with its longstanding practices that signals growing pressure to forcefully address sexual harassment allegations at the state Capitol, the California Senate will soon take steps to hire outside attorneys for any abuse investigation involving either staff or lawmakers. Los Angeles Times

Gearing up for bankruptcy: Once a darling of the Mojave aerospace start-up scene, space plane builder Xcor Aerospace has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Los Angeles Times


Hate crimes are up: "The number of hate crimes reported in California jumped about 11 percent in 2016, a spike some experts who monitor such bias activity say has a correlation to the election of President Trump." San Francisco Chronicle

Good profile: "Eli Broad has wielded more influence in more ways over more time than anyone else in the modern life of [L.A.]." The Blueprint


See you in court: The Supreme Court will hear an antiabortion group's free-speech challenge to a California law that requires "crisis pregnancy centers" to notify patients that the state offers subsidies for contraception and abortions. Los Angeles Times

Another settlement: The Marlborough School has reached a settlement with an unnamed former student who was sexually abused by Joseph Koetters, her English teacher. Los Angeles Times

Weekend shooting: Investigators have identified two people who died in an apparent murder-suicide at an El Segundo park on Saturday night. Los Angeles Times

New allegations: "Actor Tom Sizemore was told to leave a Utah film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals." The Hollywood Reporter


A fight in Monterey: "Saying they want to capture much-needed water that flows over Lake Nacimiento's spillway, Monterey County officials are planning to build an underground tunnel that would move some of its water to Lake San Antonio farther north." The Tribune



More Ratner fallout: Gal Gadot's reported ultimatum to Warner Bros. over Brett Ratner's involvement in "Wonder Woman 2" is likely a moot point. Los Angeles Times

Go Cody! The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger has been named the National League rookie of the year. Los Angeles Times

An apology: Dave Becky, comedian Louis C.K.'s former manager, is apologizing for his behavior and explaining his side of the story in the sexual misconduct scandal that enveloped the Emmy-winning comedian last week. Los Angeles Times

Valley talk: The dramatic imbalance in pay and power in the technology industry "has created the conditions for abuse. More and more, women are pushing for change." The New Yorker


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 76, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 77, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 73, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 76, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Sunny, 62, Tuesday. Rainy, 63, Wednesday. Sacramento: Partly cloudy, 64, Tuesday. Rainy, 59, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Chris Ungar:

"In November 1961 I was a fifth-grader at UCLA's University Elementary School. During recess we noticed smoke coming from the hills to the north of the campus. It was the start of the devastating Bel-Air Fire. Soon fire engines were racing down Sunset Boulevard in a futile attempt to halt the blaze. Later, my friend Fritz, who lived in Bel-Air, and I wandered the streets near his (saved) home. That charred lot was, Fritz said, 'Alfred Hitchcock's home.' "

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.