Newsletter: Essential California: An L.A. sheriff’s deputy faked evidence, but his misconduct was kept secret in court for years

An L.A. County deputy once faked evidence. Here’s how his misconduct was kept secret in court for years.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 10, and here’s what’s happening across California:


L.A. County Deputy Jose Ovalle nearly lost his job for pouring taco sauce on a shirt to mimic blood in a criminal case, but California’s police privacy laws helped keep his misconduct secret for years as he testified in court, a Times investigation shows. Hundreds of people were convicted in cases in which he was a potential witness. And he is not an isolated example. Los Angeles Times

Try it yourself: You’ve been arrested by a dishonest cop. Can you win in a system set up to protect officers? Los Angeles Times


From the archives: Inside a secret 2014 list of hundreds of L.A. deputies with histories of misconduct. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Sex. Lies. Abuse. How these L.A. deputies landed on a secret 2014 list of problem officers. Los Angeles Times

Another wildfire death

A Cal Fire mechanic who was assigned to the Carr fire died in a vehicle crash in Tehama County early Thursday morning, the eighth death connected to the furious blaze that has scorched roughly 177,000 acres in Northern California, officials said. The victim, described as a heavy-equipment mechanic, died in a crash on Highway 99, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement. Los Angeles Times


Plus: The Holy fire in Cleveland National Forest marched toward Lake Elsinore on Thursday afternoon, forcing a new round of evacuations. Residents on the mountain side of Lake Street and in the southeast region from Grand Avenue to Ortega Highway were told by the U.S. Forest Service to leave their homes immediately as the fire moved their way. Los Angeles Times

Columnist Robin Abcarian reports: Dwindling beer supplies, stalled businesses and missed county fair deadlines: California’s largest ever wildfire throws lives in limbo. Los Angeles Times

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A helicopter makes a water drop on a hill across from homes in Lake Elsinore.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


Wedding duty: Staffers for two of L.A.’s most prominent politicians were united in marriage last year. The groom was Justin Wesson, son of City Council President Herb Wesson, who employs him as an aide. The bride was Alexis Marin, a staffer for Councilwoman Nury Martinez. Taxpayers were involved as well, paying $2,768 to have the Los Angeles Police Department provide security. Los Angeles Times

Happening on Honolulu Avenue: From “Sharp Objects” to “The Good Place,” this L.A. community has the small-town charm that production teams love. Los Angeles Times

Homeless solutions: Amid downtown L.A.’s luxury apartment boom, Little Tokyo organizations are proposing an affordable housing project that would provide many of its beds to homeless veterans. But the city needs to extend a long-term ground lease in the neighborhood to help the project move forward. Los Angeles Times


Leave the car at home: Cars soon will be unwelcome on Playa Vista’s main drag. And a lot of people are happy about it. Los Angeles Times


Milestone: Carla Provost, who served as acting chief of the Border Patrol for more than a year, on Thursday was named the first woman to lead the agency as chief in its 94-year history. She answered questions from The Times about herself and the agency. Los Angeles Times


Guv’s race: Gavin Newsom and John Cox are preparing for a general-election battle to decide who will be the state’s next governor, but much of what they plan to focus on has little to do with how either candidate would lead the state. Instead, both men are engaged in proxy campaigns for other candidates and causes. Los Angeles Times

State of the schools: L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner on Thursday urged administrators to break bureaucratic rules to help students. He got an assist from Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who gave a motivational speech. Los Angeles Times

Caught on the mic: “Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, appears to have moved from criticizing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to strategizing about how to blunt its impact should it imperil President Trump.” Washington Post



Ghost Ship aftermath: Tearful relatives of the 36 people killed in a 2016 warehouse fire testified Thursday that the involuntary manslaughter plea deals that the two defendants reached with prosecutors were too lenient, with one calling it a “sweetheart deal.” Associated Press

Under review: More sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, as well as allegations against actors Steven Seagal and Anthony Anderson, have landed on Los Angeles prosecutors’ desks. Los Angeles Times

In court: A federal appeals court ordered the Trump administration Thursday to revoke approval for a widely used pesticide that studies show can harm the brains of children. Los Angeles Times

What?! Broadcom co-founder and billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III was arrested in Las Vegas on suspicion of narcotics trafficking after police discovered heroin, cocaine, meth and ecstasy in his suite at the Encore Hotel, police said Thursday. Los Angeles Times

At last? The D.B. Cooper mystery may have been cracked. The Hollywood Reporter


Pushing back: Facing withering criticism for its decision to allow Hollister Ranch landowners to continue to keep their coastline largely closed from the beachgoing public, the Coastal Commission on Thursday indicated it isn’t entirely enamored with the deal it forged and wants to keep fighting. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The Coastal Commission voted unanimously Thursday to order a Laguna Beach couple to pay $1 million in fines and tear down a sea wall that officials say protects a single mansion from erosion at the expense of the public beach in front. Los Angeles Times

State of the fires: California’s “new normal” for wildfires is unacceptable, writes George Skelton. Los Angeles Times


New movie: Don’t ask “BlacKkKlansman” actress Laura Harrier about being a black woman in Hollywood Los Angeles Times

Oscar fallout: The sudden creation of a separate Oscar for popular films hit the industry like a tsunami this week. Stunned Hollywood executives are sifting through the aftermath. Los Angeles Times

Has craft beer peaked? Recent data indicates turbulent times ahead. San Diego Union-Tribune

An ode to Kezar Stadium: Archive digging leads to big San Francisco photo scores. San Francisco Chronicle

Rentals abound: In the city of Los Angeles, most residents rent rather than own the homes they live in — and improving economic conditions haven’t done much to change that, according to a new report from Zillow. Curbed LA


Los Angeles area: sunny, 91, Friday; sunny, 86, Saturday. San Diego: sunny, 88, Friday; sunny, 86, Saturday. San Francisco area: sunny, 71, Friday; sunny, 69, Saturday. San Jose: sunny, 88, Friday; sunny, 85, Saturday. Sacramento: sunny, 99, Friday; sunny, 95, Saturday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Laura Cahill:

“On summer evenings, my dad would drive my family’s 1950s Ford Fairlane convertible to LAX. Back then, you could drive your car right up to the edge of the landing strips, with only a chain-link fence separating you from the airstrip. He’d park the car right up to the fence. We’d lie on our backs on top of the car and wait for the airplanes to land. As the airplanes were making their descent, we’d raise our arms and pretend we could touch them until the sound was so loud we’d cover our ears and scream with delight.”

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.