Newsletter: Essential California: USC’s president faces call to resign

Two hundred professors at USC called on President C.L. Max Nikias to step down in a letter sent Tuesday to the university’s Board of Trustees.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, May 23, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Two hundred USC professors on Tuesday demanded the resignation of university President C. L. Max Nikias, saying he had “lost the moral authority to lead” after revelations that a campus gynecologist was kept on staff for decades despite repeated complaints of misconduct. But the head of USC’s Board of Trustees said he and others on its executive committee “strongly support” Nikias. The UC president, meanwhile, presented a detailed reform plan. Los Angeles Times

— About 300 people have contacted USC about the doctor as administrators Tuesday began sharing the names of former patients with Los Angeles police for criminal investigation. Los Angeles Times


— Columnist Steve Lopez notes: You can’t spell scandal without “SC.” Los Angeles Times

A deal on the coast

One of California’s least tarnished stretches of coastline will only be accessible to wealthy property owners, visitors with guides and those who can boat or paddle two miles under a deal between state officials and landowners in Hollister Ranch, who have for decades fought to keep their beaches almost entirely to themselves. Parts of the beach will be accessible only by ocean “via surfboard, paddleboard, kayak or soft-bottom boat.” The beach is about two miles from Gaviota State Park beach. Los Angeles Times

Who’s No. 2?


The final USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll before California’s June 5 gubernatorial primary finds a volatile race for second place and a spot on the November ballot with frontrunner Gavin Newsom. Republican John Cox and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa appear to be vying for that second spot. Los Angeles Times

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Movie theaters in the heart of Westwood Village during the 1990s.
(Perry C. Riddle / Los Angeles Times )


Village debate: Westwood has been struggling for so many decades now, and no one knows how to fix it. Now this has become a big debate at the neighborhood council level. Will a new plan finally work? Los Angeles Times

Mixed reaction: Some L.A. Starbucks customers are worried that the coffee house’s new policies on visitors and restrooms could turn their favorite joint into homeless shelters. CBS Los Angeles

“The Mirage Factory”: Diving deep into three legendary, flawed figures who shaped L.A. — William Mulholland, D.W. Griffith and Aimee Semple McPherson. KPCC



He circled the globe: Remembering a foreign service officer from Fresno who died in the country of Georgia. Fresno Bee

Ongoing investigation: A woman was killed in upscale Rolling Hills Estates, and detectives are struggling to make a case stick. Daily Breeze

More backlash: USA Gymnastics continues to deal with the fallout from a sexual abuse scandal. Wall Street Journal


So much for the blue wave: President Trump’s popularity is rising in some parts of red California, including Orange County, and that’s bad news for Democrats. San Francisco Chronicle

And: The GOP is fine in this red pocket of California. Los Angeles Times

No surrender: Del Mar battles over whether the city should consider a “retreat” from global warming. San Diego Union-Tribune

History lesson: Antonio Villaraigosa managed to get L.A. to tax itself during the recession. Here’s what that says about what kind of governor he might be. Los Angeles Times


Apology tour: European lawmakers pilloried Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday for failing to safeguard billions of internet users’ personal information or stop the spread of so-called fake news and other malicious content on Facebook’s platform. Los Angeles Times


RIP: Author Philip Roth, who tackled self-perception, sexual freedom, his own Jewish identity and the conflict between modern and traditional morals through novels that he once described as “hypothetical autobiographies,” has died. He was 85. Los Angeles Times

Struggles: The complicated effect the Weinstein scandal and #MeToo movement have had on Cannes and Hollywood. Los Angeles Times

A step back: A new study asserts that representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in 2017 films released by the major studios hit a six-year low. Los Angeles Times

The coup: How an indie rapper became a hit in Hollywood. New York Times

Discuss: Should Disneyland increase alcohol sales? There is a debate. Orange County Register

Look on the bright side: Attention, fans of the Dodgers, Padres and Giants. The teams might stink. But that doesn’t mean you can do a stadium tour. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 69, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 67, Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 66, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 67, Thursday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 60, Wednesday and Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 74, Wednesday; mostly sunny, 71, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Bill Mills:

“I was fortunate to hike the Dipsea Trail from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach several times. Although it was a very strenuous workout for me, I always felt satisfied and positive after completing the hike. The highlight was ‘the rainforest,’ about four miles from the start in Mill Valley. On a hot summer day, it was so refreshing to feel the light misting rain falling from the trees on that section of the trail.”

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.