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Essential California Week in Review: You win some, you lose some

Cars are parked in front of a giant screen at Dodger Stadium
Early arrivals get front-row seating from their cars to watch one of two giant screens as the Dodgers play Game 1 of the World Series during a drive-in viewing at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Oct. 24.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

The dominant Dodgers. After a triumphant Game 1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and a Game 2 loss, the Dodgers retook their World Series lead Friday, defeating the Rays 6-2 with the help of a feat from Austin Barnes that hadn’t been done since 1961. “The only way the Dodgers can be stopped is if they stop themselves,” columnist Bill Plaschke writes.

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Disney gets its way, sort of. Facing growing pressure from business owners and politicians in places with theme parks, California released protocols for reopening them, giving them a path tied to how well each park’s home county throttles the spread of the coronavirus. But it could be a long time yet before Disneyland reopens.

When the vaccine arrives. A statewide plan for distributing a potential coronavirus vaccine is already taking shape, and an 11-member scientific safety review workgroup has been set up to independently review any that gets federal approval.

Ballot box battles. A Sacramento judge declined Wednesday to order the California Republican Party to disclose information about its unofficial and controversial ballot drop box program to state officials. Separately, officials are investigating whether a fire inside an official ballot box in Baldwin Park was arson.

Masks and “MAGA” hats. Across the state, election officials are preparing to de-escalate high tensions, with alternative stations for voters who show up maskless to cast ballots. Officials have also determined that “Make America Great Again” clothing doesn’t violate the rules — only clothing featuring the candidates’ names.

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L.A.'s budget crisis worsens. The pandemic-driven financial crisis at City Hall has deepened significantly over the last three months, with budget analysts warning the city’s shortfall could reach $400 million to $600 million by the end of the fiscal year. The grim forecast poses some tough choices for city leaders.

Conception conclusions. The owner of the Conception, the dive boat where a fire last year killed 34 people aboard, failed to have effective oversight of the vessel and did not operate a required roving watch, the National Transportation Safety Board found in its investigation.

Alleged misconduct in the mayor’s inner circle. Rick Jacobs, a top political advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, plans to “take a leave” from his work with Garcetti amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The city has hired an outside law firm to investigate.

Abuse ignored. California police got hundreds of calls about sex crimes and other violence in private ICE detention centers. A Times investigation found cases were rarely prosecuted.

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Short-lived short form. Less than seven months after Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launched Quibi, the streaming service announced it was shutting down, ending one of the most ambitious and closely watched Hollywood start-ups in years.

Charges dropped. Four months after four San Jose police officers were caught posting offensive comments on a private Facebook page, the Santa Clara County district attorney is seeking to dismiss more than a dozen cases in which the officers’ testimony was pivotal to a conviction.

Weekend wildfire danger. Extraordinary wildfire conditions are forecast for Northern California on Sunday, with the National Weather Service predicting powerful and dry Diablo winds — the kind that quickly spread the devastating wine country fires of 2017 and 2019.

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1. Shonda Rhimes talks owning her power, creative fulfillment and the unlikely last straw that pushed her to jump ship after 15 years at ABC. The Hollywood Reporter

2. Meet the 5-year-old who found Maki, the San Francisco Zoo’s kidnapped lemur. San Francisco Chronicle

3. Who wins and who loses with California Proposition 19? The property tax measure and the “Lebowski loophole” explained. Los Angeles Times

4. At USC, two determined women spoke out. Ugly attacks over racism, anti-Semitism and Zionism took over. Los Angeles Times

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5. Confused by Proposition 15, the property tax ballot measure, and what it would mean for 1978’s Proposition 13? Here’s an explainer. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

“Inside the fall of the CDC.” How the world’s greatest public health organization was brought to its knees. ProPublica

Searching for a ghost lake in the heart of California. A fascinating excerpt from Aaron Gilbreath’s new book “Heart of California,” about the San Joaquin Valley. Red Canary Magazine

L.A. Pride at 50. “In the beginning it was about visibility. We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” Los Angeles Times

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The guardians of Elmhurst. As COVID-19 spread across the United States, one hospital in New York found itself in the epicenter of the epicenter. With the virus on a warpath, its staff risked it all in the fight of their lives. Glamour

Poem of the week: “ted talk” by Jenny Zhang. Poetry Foundation

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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)


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