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Essential California: Female lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists speak out on 'pervasive' harassment in California's Capitol

Essential California: Female lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists speak out on 'pervasive' harassment in California's Capitol
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) is among six legislators to sign a letter calling out the "pervasive" culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment in California politics. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Wednesday, Oct. 18, and here's what's happening across California:



From Weinstein to Sacramento

A state legislator who was groped by a male lobbyist weeks after she was sworn into office. A legislative staffer-turned-lobbyist who for years would wear only pantsuits to project a "business-only" air. A government affairs director who faced inappropriate advances from an associate in full view of male colleagues who seemed oblivious as it happened. As Hollywood takes a difficult look at itself amid the spiraling Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal, the women of California politics are publicly declaring: Us too. More than 140 women — including legislators, Capitol staff, political consultants and lobbyists — are signing a letter calling out the "pervasive" culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment that plagues their industry. Los Angeles Times

Deep dive: Read this profile of Weinstein — about his cinematic gifts and his bullying sway over a Hollywood he fascinated and repelled. Los Angeles Times

End of an era? The end of Weinstein and an industry that secretly loves its bullies. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Now one of the most powerful journalists in Hollywood is being accused of protecting Weinstein for years. He says he had "never received whistleblowers' comments" about Weinstein's alleged sexual transgressions. Huffington Post

California's fires unleash a healthcare crisis

The massive fires in Northern California created an unprecedented healthcare crisis that has served as a wake-up call for the region. Not only were two major hospitals evacuated, but thousands of people were displaced and staying in shelters, many without their medicines. Clinics burned or were evacuated. Pharmacies struggled to fill prescriptions. Nursing home patients were stuck on cots in shelters, without oxygen tanks or their caregivers. Doctors themselves lost their homes. Los Angeles Times

What caused the fires? The deadliest wildfires in state history have raised questions about whether a repeat culprit might again be to blame for starting or spreading at least some of the Northern California blazes: utility companies and their equipment. The explosive failure of power lines and other electrical equipment has regularly ranked among the top three singular sources of California wildfires for the last several years. Los Angeles Times

Latest facts and figures: Five firefighters were injured in a fast-moving wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one of several wildfires burning across California. Los Angeles Times

Streaming: Evan Kilkus wouldn't evacuate from Napa County last week, then used Facebook Live to broadcast the firestorm in his hometown. Los Angeles Times


-- "Your gown is on fire!" A harrowing tale of survival. Santa Rosa Press Democrat

-- Two people were arrested on suspicion of stealing from fire victims. Santa Rosa Press Democrat

-- A lack of emergency alerts on the night of the fires prompts calls for reform. Los Angeles Times


-- The coming housing crisis in Napa. Napa Valley Register

Rodriguez fallout

When prosecutors filed campaign finance charges against L.A. school board member Ref Rodriguez, many admirers rallied to his defense in hopes of saving Rodriguez and a pro-charter school agenda. But this week's disclosures of possible conflicts of interest involving $285,000 have forced strategists for and against charter schools to ponder their next moves. Rodriguez has to do the same. Los Angeles Times


Fire near L.A: Authorities evacuated at least a dozen people from Mt. Wilson on Tuesday morning as a 30-acre wildfire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains threatened to damage the historic mountaintop observatory and an array of television broadcast towers, according to officials. Los Angeles Times

Scully still watches: Dodgers legendary announcer Vin Scully, who recently retired, talked about Justin Turner's home run, and watching rather than working the playoffs. Los Angeles Times

One away: Speaking of the Dodgers, they're one win away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1988. They play the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 tonight. Los Angeles Times

No more tiki torches? Alarmed by spasms of violence at protests in Charlottesville, Va., and Berkeley, Los Angeles lawmakers soon could impose new restrictions on what people can bring to public demonstrations and meetings in the city. Los Angeles Times



Drain the swamp! California Republican House members have received more than $1 million from a committee that recently benefited from a fundraiser with Vice President Pence. Los Angeles Times

What a coincidence: Here's the story of two lawyers who are both striving to open their own L.A. charter schools. The LA School Report

It's a bake-off: "This week, a massive beauty contest kicks off among North American cities competing to land Amazon's second headquarters and its 50,000 job prize that promises to reshape the winning region's economy for years to come." San Diego Union-Tribune


Emerging trend: Police raids of marijuana grow houses in Yuba, Yolo, Placer and Sacramento counties have resulted in the arrests of people with Chinese passports. Sacramento Bee

Drones, drones, drones: After months of debate, a civilian oversight panel signed off on a yearlong test of drones by the Los Angeles Police Department, which will become the largest police department in the nation to deploy the technology. Los Angeles Times

Settlement: The family of a 48-year-old mentally ill man who jumped to his death in a Los Angeles jail will receive $1.7 million under a settlement approved Tuesday by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Los Angeles Times


Studio exec resigns: Roy Price has resigned as the head of Amazon Studios after an allegation that he sexually harassed a television producer working on one of his shows. Los Angeles Times

Vive la French Market Place: "The gayest place in the world" might be saved after all in West Hollywood. Curbed Los Angeles

Yummy! How to explore the San Fernando Valley's beguiling and diverse dining scene. Eater LA

Cluck-worthy: A Yelp reviewer called out a Long Beach breakfast spot for serving Popeyes chicken. The owner's response: Yes, and we're proud of it. Fox News

Who knew? "One of the hottest things in Orange County real estate isn't very sexy: warehouses, distribution centers and factories." Orange County Register


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 86, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 77, Thursday. San Diego: Sunny, 78, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 73, Thursday. San Francisco area: Partly cloudy, 58, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 61, Thursday. Sacramento: Sunny, 82, Wednesday. Partly cloudy, 69, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from James Campbell:

"With the Dodgers back in the playoffs and poised to return to the World Series for the first time since 1988, I was transported back to a memory of a Saturday morning in Newberry Park. My friend and neighbor, Eric, across the street only came to visit his dad every other weekend. Well, this Saturday morning Eric's dad had learned where the great '70s Reds manager Sparky Anderson lived. We could hardly sleep the night before! His dad parked on the street and we carefully approached Mr. Anderson's garage. 'Come on in, boys,' he turned and exclaimed. He was in his robe, smoking a cigarette and drinking his coffee. Sparky Anderson was larger than life itself and he managed some of the greatest ever in Rose, Bench, Morgan, Perez, Concepcion! They were in town to play the Dodgers, which meant he was home with his family. He told us stories about playing the Dodgers and gave us foul balls hit by these greats! For two Topps card-collecting, baseball-loving 8-year-old boys it was the best day ever, even if he was the manager of the dreaded Big Red Machine! RIP Sparky!"

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.