Newsletter: Essential California: USC’s $215-million settlement may just be the start


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Oct. 20. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


USC said it had agreed to pay $215 million to former patients of Dr. George Tyndall, in the first of what is expected to be a wave of payouts stemming from the sexual abuse scandal involving the longtime campus gynecologist. The proposed settlement would provide $2,500 to any USC student treated by Tyndall during his three-decade tenure and up to $250,000 to those who allege they were abused by him. As many as 17,000 students and alumnae are eligible, a university lawyer said. Los Angeles Times

Plus: How the Tyndall settlement compares with other university payouts. Los Angeles Times


And: Here’s an archive of all the Los Angeles Times’ reporting on Tyndall and USC. Los Angeles Times

On the ballot

A California initiative that would repeal gas tax increases is falling well short of the majority support needed to pass, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, jeopardizing a Republican strategy to use the measure to draw conservatives to the polls next month in hopes of helping GOP candidates in congressional and legislative races. Despite the Republicans’ best efforts to make repealing the new taxes a decisive issue in the state’s midterm election, 17% of California voters are undecided and nearly half are not familiar with the initiative, the statewide poll found. Los Angeles Times

Trump being Trump

President Trump directed federal agencies to speed up their environmental review of major water projects in California and to develop plans to suspend or revise regulations that hamper water deliveries. The directive will have little immediate practical effect. But it comes a bit more than two weeks before a midterm election in which some Central Valley Republicans are in close races to hold on to their congressional seats. Railing against environmental regulations that have hurt water deliveries to the valley is a perennial GOP battle cry — and one that could give a political boost to Republican incumbents. Los Angeles Times



Scoop: Democrats have yet to win a House majority, and Nancy Pelosi’s return as speaker is by no means certain, but already she has one eye on the exit. Los Angeles Times

Going to Game 7: The Milwaukee Brewers chased out Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu early on Friday to force a Game 7 in their National League Championship Series today. Los Angeles Times

Nabbed: Federal prosecutors allege that a California official who enforced liquor laws and a businessman who helped bar owners cut through the state’s red tape conspired for years to shake down Koreatown establishments in a brazen scheme of bribes and orchestrated raids. Los Angeles Times

Great story: Guadalupe Rosales used Instagram to create an archive of Chicano youth of the ’90s. Now it’s an art installation. Los Angeles Times

What a tour: Los Angeles has long been the perfect backdrop from crime writers. This map of the city will help you find the setting for nine books, classic and new. New York Times

Drink up! Anaheim, the home of family-friendly Disneyland, now wants to draw adults to its new breweries. Los Angeles Times


$$$: Democrats and Republicans are spending more on TV ads than ever. One thing most have in common — they’re avoiding Trump. Los Angeles Times

Big hire: “Facebook has hired Sir Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, as its head of global policy and communications.” The Guardian

See you in court: One of seven women a Newport Beach surgeon is charged with drugging and raping filed a civil lawsuit this week against the doctor and his girlfriend, alleging the couple assaulted her in 2016. Los Angeles Times

Emerging force: The Millennium Falcon spaceship that will be the centerpiece of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land is beginning to take shape at Disneyland, based on recently released aerial images. Orange County Register

Scary: Children across the U.S. are becoming inexplicably paralyzed. Some parents and experts say federal officials aren’t doing enough. Los Angeles Times

Some serious pushback: Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is calling for Bloomberg to retract its Chinese spy chip story. BuzzFeed


Plus: Here’s the story he is referring to. Bloomberg Businessweek

Naming names: The San Jose Diocese names 15 priests accused of abuse. Mercury News

Rough: The Chargers’ low ticket prices for new stadium say something about their footing in L.A. Los Angeles Times

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1. A simple earthquake flaw can invite financial catastrophe. Most California homeowners ignore it. Los Angeles Times

2. Proposition 13 has strictly limited property tax increases since 1978. Voters could get a chance to change that. Los Angeles Times

3. Squatters’ takeover of Torrance home illustrates landlord frustrations with state law. Daily Breeze

4. Robocall relief: A new $100-million system may help frustrated consumers. Mercury News

5. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family benefited from a U.S. program for minorities based on disputed ancestry. Los Angeles Times



In the mail: Over the last decade, federal officials say, the Shanghai-based Zheng drug trafficking organization mailed and shipped fentanyl and similar illicit chemicals to customers in more than 25 countries and 35 American states. U.S. officials say the syndicate’s success, laid bare in a recent federal indictment, partly helps explain America’s skyrocketing death toll from drug overdoses. Fentanyl, 50 times more potent than heroin, and related laboratory-crafted drugs have become the No. 1 cause of opioid-related overdose deaths. And rogue chemical companies in China — operating openly and outside the reach of U.S. authorities — are the largest single source of the deadly drugs, law enforcement officials say. Los Angeles Times

Local boy makes good: The Brewers’ Christian Yelich has always put in hard work to become the player he is today. Just ask this Thousand Oaks gym. Los Angeles Times

Important story: The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department makes up 17 percent of the county workforce — but nearly half of sexual misconduct legal costs. LAist

LOL: If sitcom characters lived in L.A., could they afford the rent? Los Angeles Times

What you need to know: The Lakers are an eclectic mix of veterans and youth headlined by one big acquisition. Meet the players and learn how they play. Los Angeles Times

Reshaping politics: How Tom Steyer built the biggest political machine you’ve never heard of. The Atlantic


Macy’s new men’s floors: Same as it ever was. San Francisco Chronicle

History lesson! The San Francisco origins of green goddess dressing. KQED

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.