Newsletter: Essential California: The devastation from Northern California’s firestorms comes into grim focus

Harvey Weinstein was fired from his company after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. The Pascoes tried to evacuate their Santa Rosa home but were blocked by a “wall of flames.” Eli Broad is stepping back from the day-to-day operations of his fo


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Oct. 13, and here’s what’s happening across California:


The fire fight continues

Fire crews began to make slow progress against wildfires that killed least 31 people in Northern California’s wine country, as officials continued the grim search for more bodies amid the ashes. In Santa Rosa, the hardest hit by the fires, officials said they were stunned by the scale of the destruction. An estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa alone, along with about 400,000 square feet of commercial space, Mayor Chris Coursey said in a press conference. Los Angeles Times


A grim reality: The fire had killed at least 15 people in neighboring Sonoma County. But to the west in Santa Rosa, the full scope of the catastrophic fires was coming into grim focus. Los Angeles Times

Plus: As the Napa and Sonoma valleys struggle through days of a raging firestorm, many vineyards in the nearly 100,000-acre burn areas appear to be emerging largely unscathed. Los Angeles Times

The explainer: Why 2017 is shaping up to be one of California’s worst fire seasons. Los Angeles Times

Hidden effect: The firestorm has brought illness and is straining the local healthcare system. Los Angeles Times

An amazing story: Jan Pascoe and her husband, John, survived six hours in a pool while their neighborhood burned to the ground. Los Angeles Times

The Weinstein scandal


With allegations of decades of sexual harassment and assault against once-powerful film mogul Harvey Weinstein erupting into public view on a near-hourly basis, Hollywood is finally assessing the level of truth behind its “casting couch” stereotype. Far from a dated anomaly, many in the industry now say, Weinstein is just one example of a wider and still current problem that the industry has ignored — or deliberately swept under the rug — for far too long. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Studios, production companies, distributors and other investors have been calling bankers to assess whether to bid for pieces of the Weinstein Co., as well as film and TV projects, if the firm is unable to stay afloat, according to some entertainment executives. Los Angeles Times

And: Has anyone fallen faster than Weinstein? Los Angeles Times

A muddy timeline

The company that runs the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino has disputed the timeline offered by Las Vegas police for the Oct. 1 mass shooting at the hotel, suggesting Thursday that very little time elapsed between when gunman Stephen Paddock shot a hotel security guard and when he started firing on a concert crowd outside. Los Angeles Times



Garcetti 2020? No one has ever gone straight from City Hall to the White House. Could L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti end that streak? Los Angeles Times

Out of the limelight: Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist who has been a powerful force in Los Angeles arts, education and politics, is stepping back from the day-to-day operations of his foundation. Los Angeles Times

Flashback Friday: When Donald Trump bought a golf course in Palos Verdes, he brought his fighting instinct with him. “He sued the local public school district and the city government and publicly insulted an opposing lawyer, who now happens to be on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has been crucial to legal battles over Trump’s policies as president.” NPR

Deja vu all over again: For the second consecutive year, the Dodgers will play the Chicago Cubs in the league championship series, with the winner advancing to the World Series. Los Angeles Times


Keep your eyes peeled: The Border Patrol is trying out a new surveillance balloon. Los Angeles Times



A big fight! Sen. Dianne Feinstein is running for reelection again, but “the resistance” thinks she’s too bipartisan. Los Angeles Times

Plus: California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is strongly considering challenging Feinstein, a fellow Democrat, in her 2018 reelection bid, according to sources close to De León. Los Angeles Times

The ol’ switcheroo: Councilman Jose Huizar disclosed that his wife, Richelle Huizar, has expressed interest in running for his seat in 2020. Los Angeles Times


See you in court: An Oklahoma man with a history of mental illness will be allowed to represent himself when he faces murder charges later this year in the 2016 slayings of a Long Beach woman and her 4-year-old daughter, a judge ruled Thursday. Los Angeles Times


Someone is in trouble: The State Bar of California has recommended that an Orange County prosecutor be suspended for at least a year, finding that she failed to turn over to defense counsel copies of an inmate’s mail that she secretly collected before trial. Los Angeles Times

Changes afoot: California law enforcement agencies will have to preserve and count all of their untested rape kits and ensure they inform sexual assault victims of their rights under new laws signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown. Los Angeles Times


Water progress: In a small step forward for California WaterFix, a.k.a. the delta tunnels project, a major San Joaquin Valley irrigation district on Thursday tentatively endorsed a partial investment. Los Angeles Times


More allegations: “In the wake of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged years-long sexual harassment and assault, a producer of one of Amazon Studios’ highest-profile TV shows is ready to talk about her ‘shocking and surreal’ experience with Amazon’s programming chief Roy Price.” The Hollywood Reporter


Plus: Veteran executive Albert Cheng will run Amazon Studios on an interim basis after the abrupt suspension Thursday of Price. Los Angeles Times

Layoffs: Walt Disney Co. started laying off employees across its ABC Television Group on Thursday. Los Angeles Times

Cool event: More than a dozen mostly Los Angeles-based Americana acts will gather Oct. 17 for “Runnin’ Down a Dream: A Tribute to Tom Petty” to benefit the MusiCares Foundation, the Recording Academy’s wing that provides assistance to musicians in need. Los Angeles Times

Up in the sky: Fighter jets will buzz areas of Southern California today to mark the 70th anniversary of Chuck Yeager’s breaking the sound barrier in a test plane. Bakersfield Californian


Los Angeles area: sunny, 78, Friday; sunny, 87, Saturday. San Diego: sunny, 73, Friday; sunny, 78, Saturday. San Francisco area: sunny, 68, Friday; sunny, 72, Saturday. Sacramento: sunny, 79, Friday; sunny, 80, Saturday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Kathy Makowski:

“I miss California every single day. I love that it was the state where two immigrants — one from Mexico and one from Canada — met in the 1950s and settled in Monterey Park. One became a citizen while serving in the Army, and the other had to wait until after she retired in the 1990s. Neither went to college, but they worked hard (construction and clerk in East L.A. schools), paid taxes, volunteered and lived a happy, simple life. They live the American Dream. I am one of their two daughters but the only one born in the U.S. It took me 16 years, but I graduated college and now my two sons are college graduates. California is where dreams come true.”

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.