Newsletter: Essential California: A ‘wake-up call’ for the state Democratic Party

In this May 20, 2017, photo, Eric Bauman addresses the California Democratic Party annual convention as he seeks their vote for chairman in Sacramento, He resigned after the Los Angeles Times reported on allegations of sexual harassment against him.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Nov. 30, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Days before the November election in which California Democrats expanded their dominion over the state with sweeping victories in almost every electoral battleground, a handful of people inside the party’s inner circle knew of a problem that would ultimately topple their leader. Serious allegations had been quietly lodged about the behavior of Eric Bauman, the state party chairman. When the accusers went public, Bauman apologized. On Thursday, less than 24 hours after a Times investigation found multiple party members had accused the Los Angeles Democrat of harassment and sexual misconduct, he announced his resignation. The question now of whether California Democrats tolerated allegations of Bauman’s sexual harassment are now roiling the party. Los Angeles Times

Paradise blocked


Across Butte County, about 50,000 people have been displaced from Paradise and the nearby towns of Concow and Magalia. Some of them barely escaped and have been so shaken by the wildfire that they’ve said they have no intention of returning. Others are content to set their lives by law enforcement’s timetable. Authorities have said that eastern and southern portions of Paradise might be opened to residents early next week, if the weather allows. Parts of Concow, Old Magalia and Yankee Hill could follow later in the week. After an initial 24-hour period for residents, those areas would then be open to the public. Authorities are also hearing from a third group: evacuees who are desperate to visit their properties but live in parts of Paradise that will likely remain off-limits for several more weeks. Los Angeles Times

— Watch this Butte County sheriff’s deputy’s body camera footage, which captures his harrowing escape from the deadly Camp fire. Los Angeles Times

California needs just more than $9 billion in disaster aid to recover from this fall’s wildfires, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris said in a letter to colleagues. Los Angeles Times

-- “In California, houses burned. So did the toxic chemicals they contained.” New York Times

A costly fall

For more than a decade, Leslie Moonves was one of America’s highest-paid executives. The former CBS chairman and chief executive collected nearly $70 million last year, and his lucrative employment deal guaranteed him an extraordinarily generous payout — $140 million — should he exit the company on his own terms. But it is doubtful that Moonves, 69, will collect any severance when CBS’ board concludes its investigation into the conduct of the former chairman early next month. Los Angeles Times

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While standing in the pouring rain, Butte County officials coordinate evacuation efforts due to flooding in Chico, Calif.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)



When it rains, it pours: Rain triggered debris flows as storms rolled through fire-scarred regions across California. Los Angeles Times

Lawuit filed: The family of a Trader Joe’s assistant manager who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer during a gun battle with a fleeing suspect outside the store in Silver Lake filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and two LAPD officers on Thursday. Los Angeles Times

Real estate slowdown: Southern California home sales tumbled 7.5% in October from a year earlier, extending a broad slowdown in the housing market. Los Angeles Times


On the roads: Los Angeles is considering raising speed limits on more than 100 miles of streets. Los Angeles Times


Wild trial: The first three times Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman tried to have his top lieutenant killed in prison, he sent men with knives. The fourth time, he sent a brass band. Los Angeles Times

By the border: Hope for migrants hinges on a waiting list at Tijuana’s gateway. L.A. Taco


Ahead of Saturday’s inauguration: Mexico’s new leader is riding a wave of anti-corruption furor that’s changing Latin America.” Washington Post


He said what? On Thursday, soon-to-be-ex House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the Golden State’s voting system “bizarre” and suggested there was something hinky about how long it took to know the outcome in certain races. Los Angeles Times

After the fires: PG&E Corp., under intense scrutiny over its possible role in starting the Camp Fire, was ordered by California regulators Thursday to implement a broad range of improvements in its safety culture.” Sacramento Bee


A nice surprise: San Francisco is getting a $415-million windfall. How will the mayor and the board of supervisors spend it? San Francisco Chronicle


Scary: Two San Diego teenagers were killed execution-style in a triple homicide Sunday morning at a Tijuana apartment complex, and Mexican authorities were continuing to search for the assailants. San Diego Union-Tribune

Under investigation: An internal investigation by a Redondo Beach Catholic parish has found two nuns misappropriated funds from the school they worked at, according to a letter sent to families. Los Angeles Times


In New York: “Harvey Weinstein’s attorney released a handful of new emails from two accusers on Thursday in a court filing seeking to dismiss the criminal charges against him.” Variety

Ivory trafficking bust: A massive ivory trafficking ring has been broken up at a La Jolla art gallery, and criminal charges filed against the perpetrators, San Diego City Atty. Mara Elliott said. Los Angeles Times

Trial is set: More than eight years after the bullet-riddled remains of former Clippers player Lorenzen Wright were found in Memphis, Tenn., a trial date has been set for his ex-wife and another man charged with the killing. Los Angeles Times

Great photos: Brian L. Frank photographs young men in a California prison camp and on their journeys to freedom. The Marshall Project



Watch: “This California ranch is the biggest olive oil producer in the U.S.” Eater


Awards season: Six of Hollywood’s biggest directors talk influences and legacies, Netflix and iPhones, James Bond and Auto-tune. Los Angeles Times


Plus: “Why there’s no excuse for not nominating female directors this year.” The Hollywood Reporter

Just plain weird: What is this meat hoodie, and why is it following us around the internet? Los Angeles Times

In Silicon Valley: “The Facebook manager who wrote a memo accusing the company of systemic racism has described an atmosphere that he said was dismissive when he raised the issue with the company’s human resources department.” NBC News

Watching Fox Nation: “Will MAGA viewers pay for the rage they get for free?” Los Angeles Times


Nom nom nom: “How to order In-N-Out fries that don’t totally suck.” LAist


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 67, Friday; partly cloudy, 66, Saturday. San Diego: cloudy, 64, Friday; partly cloudy, 65, Saturday. San Francisco area: partly cloudy, 57, Friday; showers, 54, Saturday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 59, Friday; showers, 56, Saturday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 56, Friday; showers, 55, Saturday. More weather is here.



Today’s California memory comes from Lore Bazemore:

“My mother and father drove straight through from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Anaheim with their three children, all under age 4, in 1955. My uncle and his family had moved west a year earlier. They fostered us when we arrived. California was the land of employment opportunities to them — and Disneyland. (l knew l was destined to live at the new Mickey Mouse Club with Uncle Walt.)

“As we came over the mountains and toward the coast in the wee hours just before the sun rose, l remember being barely awake, looking down on all the glittering city lights in the metropolis below and my father’s words: ‘Just look down there! There is the diamond mine! See all those twinkling diamonds! Look at those green emeralds sparkle! Those red ones are the rubies, and the golden ones topaz! We are going to be rich!’ At age 4, I imagined picking up diamonds and rubies and pocketing them, but the riches of growing up, and now, old, in the most beautiful of places has proved far more of a blessing than my father could ever have imagined. May California always offer hope to seekers, to those less fortunate, to humanity — even if only metaphorically.”

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.