Newsletter: Essential California: Inside Elon Musk’s secret tunnel

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


Much of Elon Musk’s tunnel plan for Los Angeles is hidden, with a private company allegedly undertaking a massive public works project. But as construction of the tunnel continues in Hawthorne, there are some tantalizing clues in documents submitted to the city. The most futuristic of the blueprints involves a shabby blue-and-gray house on a modest block near the Hawthorne Municipal Airport, where the firm plans to practice raising and lowering vehicles into its tunnel through a 40-foot steel elevator shaft hidden inside the garage. Residents are amused and concerned about their neighborhood’s starring role. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Five years of the hyperloop. Wired


Medical license at risk

Dr. George Tyndall, the longtime campus gynecologist at USC, faces the loss of his medical license after state regulators formally accused him of negligence and sexual misconduct with several patients. The charges brought by the Medical Board of California come as Tyndall and USC face hundreds of civil claims from women who allege sexual abuse and harassment. Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing. Los Angeles Times

Full coverage: The USC scandal. Los Angeles Times

Will they vote?

Tom Steyer made his fortune as a hedge fund manager taking risky bets in volatile conditions. In this year’s high-stakes midterm election, the billionaire-turned-political activist is making another costly wager on one of the most historically unreliable groups of voters: young people. Los Angeles Times

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A moving story: Dave Roberts’ journey from Boston to the Dodgers dugout, where he will be when the World Series begins on Tuesday at Fenway Park. Los Angeles Times

Losing power: When it emerged from start-up stealth mode in 2015, Faraday Future held the potential to make Los Angeles a center of electric car development. Now layoffs are on the way at the Gardena-based company, as cash runs low, and employees will each take a pay cut of 20% — from salaried executives to hourly factory workers. Los Angeles Times

The Oscars challenge: Can they do it in less than three hours? That’s the mandate for the new producers of the Academy Awards. (The longest show, in 2002, clocked in at an epic four hours and 23 minutes.) Los Angeles Times


Double whammy: Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, was hit with a personal judgment of $4.85 million Monday for his failure to pay a debt to a former colleague at his longtime Newport Beach firm. Then Irvine Co. won a court order evicting him and his staff from their offices. It’s the latest in a string of bad news for the man who is thinking of challenging Trump in 2020. Los Angeles Times

Back in the news: Before O.J. Simpson, before Erik and Lyle Menendez, there was Joe Hunt, the head of the Billionaire Boys Club who was convicted in a sensational murder. Hunt now wants freedom. The question is whether this is the sincere act of a changed man or just another con job by a master manipulator, which is what prosecutors and law enforcement officials believe. Los Angeles Times


Same as it ever was: With the midterm election now just over two weeks away, the political climate stands almost exactly as it did nine months ago, in mid-January: Democrats remain favored to win back a majority of the House, but haven’t decisively locked the contest down; Republicans remain favored to keep control of the Senate. Los Angeles Times

And: As the election nears, immigration and race take center stage. New York Times

Get more election coverage on our Decision California page.

Ouch: You could pay a price for not having a front license plate in California. Orange County Register

Surprise? How #MeToo has become a weapon for some California Republicans. Sacramento Bee

Perhaps not a surprise? The construction industry is digging deep to defeat Proposition 6, the initiative that would repeal new fuel taxes and vehicle fees earmarked for road and transit improvements. Los Angeles Times

Out stumping: Sen. Kamala Harris changed some minds during a pre-presidential race tour of Iowa. Politico


Looking back: 911 calls portray a night of terror as the Carr fire raced into Redding, destroying hundreds of homes. Record Searchlight


On the border: San Diego was once a city of refugees. But under Trump, the flow of those seeking a new life in America has slowed dramatically. San Diego Union-Tribune

Will you drink to that? California is producing some of the best brandy ever. But many don’t seem to be noticing. San Francisco Chronicle

Bitter history: Memories of Japanese internment in the South Bay. Daily Breeze

Be careful: Dungeness crab season is arriving in the Bay Area. And amid excitement about the delicacy, there are new concerns about toxins. SF Gate

Don’t be ashamed: As restaurants get darker, pulling out the iPhone flashlight to know what you are eating. Wall Street Journal

A saint’s legacy: Oscar Romero’s death still is a deep hole in the Salvadoran community, even after his sainthood. The New Yorker


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 78, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 82, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 72, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 74, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Partly cloudy, 62, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 64, Wednesday. San Jose: Partly cloudy, 68, Tuesday. Sunny, 72, Wednesday. Sacramento: Mostly sunny, 75, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 78, Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Frank Kilbourne:

“As I enter my mid-80s, I find it exciting to live in an age where technology is so rapidly advancing, it seems like something new appears almost daily, wondering if I may someday own a driverless car. As I ponder this thought, I can’t help but to remember taking the trolleys (both red and yellow) between my mother’s and grandmother’s, L.A. to Glendale, and thinking how great it was to just look out the window and watch the world.”

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.