Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Fires and blackouts

Kincade fire
Cows on a hill as the Kincade fire approaches Geyserville, Calif.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Nov. 2.

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

Top stories

Rep. Katie Hill resigns. The 32-year-old Santa Clarita Democrat, elected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team, stunned colleagues Sunday by announcing her resignation. Hill’s quick fall is due in part to the relationship she acknowledged having with a campaign staffer and an allegation that she had an affair with a congressional aide, which she has denied. But it’s also the product of what she and her allies see as a plot by her estranged husband and former advisors to the congressman she unseated to use naked pictures to destroy her.

“If you fly, we can’t.” Officials were forced to ground a helicopter several times as a drone circled the area of the Maria fire, its pilot apparently trying to snap overhead photographs of the blaze.

No rain. When it comes to quelling the fires with wet weather, there’s not much good news on the horizon. Forecasters see little chance of rainfall in the next few weeks.

[Read the latest fire coverage]

Climate activism. Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg joined young Californians in a school strike in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to demand a halt to new oil drilling and a 2,500-foot buffer between drill sites and homes.

BlizzCon worries. Employees of Blizzard Entertainment always look forward to the Irvine-based gaming company’s annual event for fans. But some are dreading this year’s edition, happening this weekend, after layoffs and a PR disaster over the company’s ties to China.

Admissions scandal. Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty Friday to new bribery charges filed against them in the college admissions scandal, according to documents filed in federal court.

Coachella 2020. Long-running politically provocative L.A. rock band Rage Against the Machine will headline dates at the next Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which the group helped launch 21 years earlier.

LAXit problems. Los Angeles International Airport officials apologized late Tuesday night for an “unacceptable level of service” after travelers using the new Uber, Lyft and taxi pickup system faced gridlock, packed shuttle buses and long wait times for rides.


[This is how the new LAX pickup system works.]

USC’s next athletic director? The search for USC’s next athletic director has zeroed in on a leading candidate, people close to the process told the Los Angeles Times: University of Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn.

[Also, here’s our running list of notable departures from USC.]

Snake wranglers. Rattlesnakes have had a busy year. Same goes for the people who catch them for a living.

Assistants revolt. After years of low wages and abuse, Hollywood assistants are in open revolt over their treatment.

1. Where PG&E has shut off power. Los Angeles Times

2. Where all the fires in California are burning. Los Angeles Times

3. How a Times photographer got this Easy fire photo with Reagan’s Air Force One. Los Angeles Times

4. Irvine ranked safest city in the U.S. The Orange County Register

5. The California haters are back. And once again, they get us all wrong. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Buck Delventhal dies, and San Francisco loses its most capable guide. Mission Local

“Don’t lecture California about fires. Look at the state’s climate action.” The state has worked for 40 years to successfully reduce emissions — but that never gets mentioned when hillsides burn. Curbed

Prop. 187 forced a generation to put fear aside and fight. Gustavo Arellano writes that it transformed California, and him. Los Angeles Times

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 Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition.)