Newsletter: Essential California: Gunman kills 12 at Thousand Oaks bar packed with college students

Witnesses console one another across the street from the Borderline Bar & Grill and talk to law enforcement
(Sean Greene / Los Angeles Times)

Welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Nov. 8, and here’s what’s happening across California:


A gunman threw smoke bombs and rained bullets on a crowd of hundreds inside a Thousand Oaks bar that is popular with college students Wednesday night, leaving 12 dead, including a sheriff’s sergeant shot trying to stop the carnage. The massacre occurred at the Borderline Bar & Grill, with the assailant firing wildly into the crowd. In addition to the dead, 10 other people may have been injured, according to Sheriff Geoff Dean, who added that it’s too early to know whether the shooter took his own life. The gunman burst into the bar about 11:20 p.m., cloaked in all black. Los Angeles Times

More from the scene


-- Friends and family anxiously converged at the bar early Thursday to learn the fate of their loved ones. Some said that some of those inside had survived the mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas last year. Los Angeles Times

-- “This is a safe place. My parents let me go here. This is a trusted place,” said one Cal State Channel Islands student who was at the bar. “To know that this happened in my safe place is a very, very scary thing. You just don’t expect it to happen in Thousand Oaks.” Los Angeles Times

The next chapter in the House

Perhaps the greatest consequence of the Democrats taking back the House will be their ability to issue subpoenas. Expect these to start flying come January, as committees begin to dig into the scandals that have befallen the Trump administration. Burbank’s Rep. Adam Schiff will likely be the chair of the House Intelligence committee, and as election results rolled in, he expressed some level of excitement at this prospect. Los Angeles Times


Plus: These Democrats are poised to take over some key House panels (and make things harder for Trump). Los Angeles Times

A message from our wise man

When it comes to politics, few know more than The Times’ Mark Z. Barabak. He’s been on the scene since before one of your Essential California authors was born and has some wise words about what begins now that the Midterms are done and dusted:

“Hello, Ben, and 2020! California’s going to be in the thick of the next presidential race for the first time in decades, and not because of the fantastical notion the state’s going to be choosing the next Democratic nominee with its early primary redux.


“With several White House hopefuls of California pedigree (and varying degrees of plausibility) in the running, the state’s culture, its values, demography and economy will be on the ballot in states across the country — hey here, Iowa and New Hampshire! The state has historically been on the cutting edge, the place where the future is invented. It’s a future some find scary, with its changing racial composition, and one that others eagerly embrace. Make no mistake, it will very much be a part of the political discussion for the next two years.”

Coming soon to Sacramento

Few can argue with California Democrats that their sweeping victories on Tuesday are a clear mandate to set in place an agenda for the state that will last well into the next decade. Less clear, though, is what those marching orders should be — and whether voters will embrace the full panoply of demands that have lurched the state’s dominant party leftward since the election of President Trump. No one will face that task more directly than Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Here’s where Newsom stands on state issues. Los Angeles Times


And: With Newsom as governor, California’s battle with Trump intensifies. Los Angeles Times

Interesting: Last night, Gov. Jerry Brown was out of the state for an event in Texas. So Gov.-elect Newsom was actually also acting Gov. Newsom. Los Angeles Times


(Here are the latest results from the closest races)


CA-10: Rep. Jeff Denham is trying to hold on to his seat against Democrat Josh Harder in a race that’s too close to call. Los Angeles Times

CA-25. GOP Rep. Steve Knight conceded to Democratic challenger Katie Hill. Los Angeles Times

CA-39: Young Kim held a lead over Democrat Gil Cisneros. Los Angeles Times

CA-45: Rep. Mimi Walters of Laguna Beach is leading her Democratic challenger, but ballots are still being counted. Los Angeles Times


CA-48: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa is trailing Democrat Harley Rouda in his attempt to hold on to the seat he’s had for decades. Daily Pilot

CA-49: Democrat Mike Levin defeated Diane Harkey. Los Angeles Times

CA-50: Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter beat challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar. Los Angeles Times

All the results can be found here: Los Angeles Times



The results are revealing: Here’s what we learned from election day in California. Los Angeles Times

Measuring the drapes or not: “Will the man who once dismissed Sacramento as ‘just so dull’ move to the capital as the next governor of California?” Sacramento Bee

“A failing franchise”: Is the California GOP doomed? CalMatters


The big picture: Inside the fight to turn red California blue. The New York Times

Plus: An obituary for old Orange County, dead at age 129. Los Angeles Times

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True shocker: Sheriff Jim McDonnell is perilously close to losing his job running one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies to a challenger with little management experience, stunning political observers and raising questions about why he faltered. Los Angeles Times

In Inglewood: Voters elected Mayor James T. Butts to a third term, defeating a local clergyman who had the financial backing of an entertainment conglomerate and some prominent celebrities. Los Angeles Times

Fire and fury: Strong Santa Ana winds are expected to blow through the Southland this week, which, paired with low humidity, could bring critical fire weather conditions. Los Angeles Times



A changing O.C.: With a record 24 candidates running for political office in Orange County, Vietnamese Americans were in a position to score big. On Tuesday they did, with 13 of them poised to win elections. In Garden Grove, four of the five council seats will likely be held by Vietnamese Americans. Los Angeles Times


At L.A. City Hall: The scene could have been out of a movie: more than a dozen FBI agents striding out of elevators on the fourth floor of Los Angeles City Hall and descending on the office of Councilman Jose Huizar. Los Angeles Times

Big news: Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas is facing the first serious electoral challenge of his 20 years in the job. Los Angeles Times


In court: Claims of racial profiling on the 5 Freeway echo findings against sheriff’s deputies in Antelope Valley. Los Angeles Times


Podcast: Investigating the deaths of Lorenzen Wright and Kevin Ellison. Los Angeles Times

Big anniversary: How the Hollywood sign became L.A.’s most famous landmark. Los Angeles Magazine


More Hollywood stuff: As Netflix agrees to theatrical runs, which directors will get A-list treatment? The Hollywood Reporter

5 on 5: The Lakers’ real problems and how to solve them. ESPN


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 76, Thursday; sunny, 80, Friday. San Diego: sunny, 71, Thursday; sunny, 78, Friday. San Francisco area: sunny, 72, Thursday; sunny, 69, Friday. San Jose: sunny, 76, Thursday; sunny, 75, Friday. Sacramento: cloudy, 75, Thursday; sunny, 72, Friday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Laryn Lee:

“I was born in 1955 at the French Catholic Hospital in Chinatown. All my dad’s friends in Chinatown were amazed that we moved from an apartment on Sunset Boulevard to our first house ‘all the way out’ in Pico Rivera, which still had lots of orange groves. We mainly played outdoors with many other baby boomer kids of all ages on our long street, which ended at the San Gabriel riverbed. We loved having out-of-town relatives visit us in SoCal, as each time we would get to go along with them to Disneyland. We safely stored our leftover A through E tickets for Disneyland and knew how to convince the ride operators to let us combine our non-E tickets to get on to an E ticket ride like the super fast Matterhorn bobsleds or driving the electric cars in Autopia. After college I ended up settling in Cypress and working for Disney Stores, where my employee pass allowed me to take up to three guests a maximum of 23 times per year. I still love going to Disneyland!”

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.