Essential California: The many warning signs before a gunman's rampage

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Nov. 17, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Could this have been stopped?

Before he killed five in a series of shootings earlier this week, Kevin Neal’s penchant for firing off guns and threatening neighbors was well-known in Rancho Tehama, even though he was barred from having any guns in his possession. In February and again in March, a court had ordered him to turn in all of his weapons as part of a temporary restraining order granted to residents in this rural area of Northern California who claimed Neal was harassing them. Court records show that neighbors continued to complain about gunfire and other problems with Neal for much of the year. Los Angeles Times

The water wars and beyond

A fight between Washington and Sacramento over a huge amount of Central Valley water is a jolting reminder of California’s limited ability to counteract the environmental retreat in Washington. Even in a state where resistance is the mantra, leaders can’t keep up with the pace of Trump’s environmental rollbacks. The risk of exposure to toxic substances escaping from industrial facilities has been heightened by the suspension of federal safety rules. Climate change action is being undercut by the easing of restrictions on heavily polluting vehicles. Los Angeles Times

Senator accused of harassment by L.A. radio host

Sen. Al Franken apologized Thursday after a Los Angeles radio show anchor said that he had forcibly kissed her and later groped her on a 2006 USO tour, and amid a blizzard of criticism said that he would “gladly cooperate” with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his actions. “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” said Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who joined the Senate in 2009 after a career as a comedian. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.” Leeann Tweeden, a news anchor on KABC’s “McIntyre in the Morning,” said in a post on the station’s website Thursday and in interviews throughout the day that Franken had written a skit for the USO tour in which they kissed, and he demanded that they rehearse the scene. Los Angeles Times


Some intrigue: Comcast Corp. has jumped into talks for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment assets, including Fox’s Los Angeles-based movie studio, sports networks, cable channels and vast international operations, according to two people familiar with the move. Los Angeles Times

What’s going on? After several people in Orange County fell sick with Legionnaires’ disease in recent weeks, officials said two cooling towers at Disneyland had been linked to the outbreak. But a key question remains unanswered: How did four people who had not visited Disneyland become infected? Los Angeles Times

Sentenced: A Malibu horse trainer who crashed into two pedestrians in a crosswalk, killing one of them, and later denied to police that she was the driver in the collision was sentenced Thursday to one year in jail. Los Angeles Times

More Spacey allegations: London's Old Vic theater says it has received allegations of “a range of inappropriate behavior” from Kevin Spacey. The theater said Thursday that the 20 allegations deal with incidents between 1995 and 2013. Associated Press


Reprimanded: University of California regents meeting on Thursday admonished UC President Janet Napolitano for agreeing to a plan that led to interference in a state audit on the operation of her office. Los Angeles Times

Tax vote: Most California Republicans joined House colleagues Thursday to approve a tax overhaul expected to have broad negative effects on Californians’ taxes. Several said they supported the bill because they think the Senate will make it better. Los Angeles Times

Big fine: California’s managed-care regulator has fined insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross $5 million for repeatedly failing to resolve consumer grievances in a timely manner. Los Angeles Times

Big jump: Hate crimes committed by white supremacists increased 67% in Los Angeles County last year, according to a study released Thursday. There were 105 such crimes reported, compared with 63 in 2015. Los Angeles Times


A wild week: Police are searching for a man who allegedly broke into his estranged wife’s home with a shotgun on Tuesday, tried to set three Inland Empire homes on fire on Wednesday, then evaded police in Santa Barbara during a car pursuit Thursday morning, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Great story: “Sentenced to life without parole for a double murder he insists he did not commit, Travis Berry has learned a few things in his 25 years of incarceration: patience, discipline, the power of contemplation, the freedom in letting go. Still, nothing had prepared him for what he was feeling as Kacey Berry’s visit approached.” Los Angeles Magazine

High fees: “They confessed to minor crimes. Then City Hall billed them $122K in ‘prosecution fees.’ ” The Desert Sun


Vanguard: Latino lawmakers from California attending an international climate conference in Germany are “at the vanguard of climate policy in the U.S., shepherding legislation while working to redefine what it means to be an environmentalist.” Sacramento Bee


New leader for the L.A. Phil: After the sudden departure of its longtime president and CEO, the L.A. Phil announced that Simon Woods will be their next leader. Woods comes to Los Angeles from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, where he has served as president and CEO since May 2011. Los Angeles Times

Signing off: The crew of the classic rock station the Sound at 100.3 FM said its goodbyes as the channel switched formats to Christian contemporary music on Thursday. Orange County Register

Get well soon: Production on the seventh and final season of HBO's “Veep” has been postponed while its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, undergoes treatment for breast cancer. Los Angeles Times

Uplifting tale: After her mother’s death, the turntables brought DJ Lala out of depression and into the spotlight. OC Weekly

Where to go this weekend: There’s a new museum about the Cold War in Culver City opening Sunday. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 71, Friday; sunny, 77, Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 71, Friday; sunny, 71, Saturday. San Francisco area: sunny, 62, Friday; sunny, 60, Saturday. Sacramento: sunny, 61, Friday and Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes form Cherie Shore:

“In 1960, as a 6-year-old child, my family moved to Sherman Oaks. Several of our new neighbors had also recently moved in, but from nearby homes, having had their old properties ‘eminent domained’ by the still-under-construction 405 Freeway through the nearby Sepulveda Pass. Our new home was just off Sepulveda Boulevard, where every weekday morning we saw nightmare traffic jams, with Valley residents trying to get through the old two-lane tunnel (one lane each direction) at the top of the pass. We couldn’t wait for the freeway to open.

“I vividly remember the day of the freeway opening in 1962. Most of the neighborhood excitedly climbed up the embankment to observe the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with various minor dignitaries from City Hall. The ceremony was delayed; we were waiting for then-Mayor Sam Yorty to fly in by helicopter. As we waited, we all stood there on the empty freeway, sure that there weren’t enough cars in L.A. to fill so many lanes. Ultimately, Mayor Sam didn’t make the ceremony; they went ahead without him and opened the new freeway connection, making life easier for Valley residents who commuted into L.A., and for those of us who lived near Sepulveda Boulevard.”

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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