Newsletter: Today: The Real October Surprise? Little Changes. $600,000 Question — Who Gave This Money to L.A. Politicians?

I’m Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.


The Real October Surprise? Little Changes

What a month October has been: two presidential debates, Donald Trump’s videotape and the accusations against him, and Hillary Clinton’s never-ending email controversies. The latest is that FBI agents obtained a warrant to search a computer used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner for messages they believe may be related to their inquiry into Clinton’s handling of classified information on her private server. The vagueness of FBI Director James B. Comey’s public statement has left both Republicans and Democrats calling for more information. But the bigger question is whether this newest twist changes anything. Cathleen Decker writes that the campaign so far suggests many voters may ultimately shrug it off, just as they have so much else on both sides.


More Politics

-- Deep in the heart of Texas, Trump has Republicans worried about losing congressional seats.

-- Husbands and wives who have traditionally voted the same ticket are parting ways at the ballot box.

-- We went to the “happiest place on Earth” and asked people to describe the election in one word.


$600,000 Question: Who Gave This Money to L.A. Politicians?

A repairman in West Carson. A Panorama City homemaker. A Long Beach hotel worker. An L.A. Times investigation has found they are among more than 100 campaign contributors with a direct or indirect connection to developer Samuel Leung, who was lobbying public officials to approve a 352-unit apartment complex in the Harbor Gateway neighborhood. The donors, some of whom claim no knowledge of the contributions, gave more than $600,000 to support Janice Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other L.A.-area politicians between 2008 and 2015. Leung wouldn’t comment, other than to say he did not reimburse any donors. Don’t miss this graphic that shows the web of connections.

Dying on the Streets of L.A.

Raquel sleeps on the sidewalk at Highland and Franklin, one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood. She has been there for 15 years, severely ill and yet unwilling to accept help. “Standing at her side, I felt a mix of anger, sadness, shame,” Steve Lopez writes, as L.A. prepares to vote on Measure HHH to help the homeless. “It couldn’t be any more obvious that she’s too incapacitated to act in her own best interest, and if the law doesn’t put her welfare and our duty first, it has to be changed.”


The Pension Game-Changer That Wasn’t

Five years ago, the stars seemed to align for Gov. Jerry Brown to push for sweeping action to solve the state’s pension funding crisis with what was to be the “biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the history of California.” Instead, lawmakers blocked his most ambitious ideas, and the reforms that did pass have resulted in little savings. Read the latest chapter in our pension crisis series, a partnership of The Times, CALmattters and Capital Public Radio, to see why it’s so difficult to tackle the problem.

A Big Water Backslide Creates a Slippery Slope

Californians have had to cut back on water for years amid the drought. So when the state let up on restrictions, it was only natural they’d start using more. But how much is too much? The Times looked at the data and found the 10 worst backslides among water districts in the state — areas that could draw a reprimand from officials.


The Science of Scary Tricks and Too Many Treats

Planning to watch a scary movie for Halloween tonight, or is the thought too frightening? Here’s how one neuropsychiatrist explains why some people love to be scared and, for those who hate it, how to get horrible images out of their heads. Meanwhile, chemists have tried to calculate how much candy would constitute a lethal dose. Bottom line: Don’t try this at home. Have a safe and sane Halloween.


-- An Iraqi band of brothers: They watch “American Sniper” and play “Call of Duty.” And they’re out to recapture Mosul.


-- It seemed like a slam-dunk. Here’s how the government lost its case against the Oregon occupiers.

-- Analysis: He said, she said, he interrupted. This election has illuminated decades of workplace sexism.

-- Two Army buddies with “friends forever” tattoos had a fateful night in South Korea, resulting in a complex tale of military justice.

-- The L.A. County Board of Supervisors secretly launched a public corruption investigation of former Chief Executive William Fujioka after his retirement two years ago.


-- From rags to riches: The man behind a $25-million gift to LACMA once spent years in an orphanage.

-- Car-crazy Los Angeles might have a few things to teach the Bay Area about mass transit.

-- In an age of comic-book blockbusters and viral sensations, whatever happened to the cult movie?



-- What to make of all of California’s 17 propositions on the ballot.

-- Endorsements by The Times’ editorial board.


-- A state law passed in 2013 allows women to get birth control without a doctor’s prescription, directly from a pharmacist. But most pharmacies aren’t offering the service.


-- Four Richmond police officers will be fired as a result of an investigation into allegations made by a teenage sex-trafficking victim.

-- L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck fractured his pelvis after he fell off his motorcycle on a rocky trail in the Tehachapi Mountains.

-- George Skelton: Motivating bad guys to become good guys? That’s worth a “yes” vote.



-- LACMA’s star-packed Art + Film Gala signals a turning point for the museum and the city.

-- Marilyn Manson has some unsettling comments about sucking leeches and making sausage for his new role on “Salem.”

-- What happens when Kim Kardashian goes silent on social media?

-- Actor Darren Criss discusses a new generation rocking out to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”



-- As Indian security forces crack down, young men in Kashmir are taking up arms.

-- A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck central Italy, bringing down scores of buildings, days after other temblors left thousands homeless.

-- North Dakota pipeline activists said that arrested protesters were kept in what appeared to be dog kennels.


-- Canada keeps signing free trade deals, and few people seem to mind.

-- In Mexico, Halloween and the Day of the Dead have fused into a multi-day, sometimes surreal celebration.


-- Elon Musk’s latest venture: He wants to sell you solar roof tiles that look better than the usual clunky panels.


-- What to buy (and skip) in November.


-- The Chicago Cubs staved off elimination from the World Series, defeating the Cleveland Indians, 3-2.

-- A look at the best races in the Breeders’ Cup coming up this weekend at Santa Anita.



-- How Obama’s presidency provoked a white backlash and rekindled a spirit of black resistance.

-- Trump’s concession speech, imagined: What if it went like this?



-- A months-long investigation is unable to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy. (Washington Post)

-- Saudi women talk about life inside the ultraconservative kingdom. (New York Times)

-- The evolution of vampire scares through the centuries. (National Geographic)



Halloween is one of the busiest days at El Coyote Cafe, now in its 85th year of serving a distinctive take on Mexican food and margaritas. The drink recipe is a secret, but on a daily basis it involves 64 bottles of tequila and lemon juice, 40 bottles of triple sec, a vat of pineapple juice and several pitchers of Sprite. Watch the video of how the concoction is stirred in a big metal pot — but apparently no incantations of “double, double, toil and trouble” are involved.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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