Essential California: Fate of Harvey Weinstein sexual assault cases now in hands of two cautious prosecutors

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, March 20, and here’s what’s happening across California:

TOP STORIES

Two prosecutors with Weinstein in their sights and something in common

After months of investigating, two criminal cases involving Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein are now in the hands of two veteran but cautious prosecutors: Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and Manhattan D.A. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. In Los Angeles, the investigation is focused on an Italian actress’ allegation of rape in 2013. In New York, detectives have turned their attention to a student-actress’ accusation of forced oral copulation in 2004 and another actress’ allegation of rape in 2010. Both teams of detectives say they could move forward with charges against the movie producer, who since last fall has been accused by more than 85 women of sexual misconduct stretching back four decades. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Time’s Up organizers are urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to uncover why Vance decided against prosecuting Weinstein earlier. Los Angeles Times

And: Weinstein’s embattled movie studio, once a premier maker of award-winning films, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Los Angeles Times

Pushback against the ‘sanctuary state’

On Monday, the Los Alamitos City Council voted 4 to 1 to approve an ordinance that exempts the small Orange County municipality from Senate Bill 54, a law that took effect Jan. 1 and restricts local law enforcement's cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Los Angeles Times

The battle for governor heats up

Antonio Villaraigosa has staked his candidacy for governor on his roots, telling voters he "grew up in a home rich in love, but limited in opportunity" while positioning himself as a voice for low-income families and people of color left behind in California's economic recovery. His rivals, however, are trying to spin the narrative, arguing that the former Los Angeles mayor has benefited from the largess of companies and industries that prey upon some of the state's most vulnerable residents. Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

Get ready: An atmospheric river that forecasters are billing as the biggest storm of the season is expected to drench Southern California beginning Tuesday night and will bring with it the potential for mud flows and widespread flooding, the National Weather Service said. Los Angeles Times

New accusations: Michael Ferro retired from the board of Tronc Inc. on Monday, ahead of the newspaper chain's $500-million sale of the Los Angeles Times and other California assets and hours before sexual misconduct allegations against him were made public. Chicago Tribune

Tough reading: “This 16-year-old’s suicide letters are a cry for help and a national call for change,” writes David Whiting. Orange County Register

On the disabled list: The Dodgers will open the defense of their National League championship without Justin Turner. The third baseman suffered a broken left wrist when he was hit by a pitch in Monday's Cactus League game. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

The state of play: The top-two primary has maximized voter choice while minimizing the power of parties and interest groups to foresee the eventual outcome. Voters have the power — and sometimes the burden — of sorting through what can be lists filled with dozens of names. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Here are five things to know about California’s crucial House races. Los Angeles Times

On the horizon: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived Monday in Washington, D.C., the first stop on a two-week trip that will include a visit to Los Angeles to meet with entertainment and defense executives, and Silicon Valley to meet with tech leaders. Los Angeles Times

The pension crisis: “Throughout California, city governments are facing budget shortfalls as CalPERS cranks up mandatory contributions in a somewhat desperate effort to make the gigantic trust fund healthy enough to cover pension promises to millions of state and local government workers,” writes Dan Walters. CalMatters

Meaty profile: “After more than 40 years in public life, 15 as governor of California, [Gov. Jerry Brown] is as combative and contradictory as ever — and still trying to save the world from itself.” California Sunday Magazine

Salty: Brown had some strong words for critics of high-speed rail in a speech to labor leaders. Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

Mean streets: A street vendor was beaten while setting up to sell fruit in South Los Angeles on Sunday morning, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his stepson. Los Angeles Times

Rapper arrested: Barely a month after R&B performer Trey Songz was accused of punching and choking a woman at a Hollywood Hills party, Los Angeles police have booked the performer on suspicion of domestic violence. Los Angeles Times

Divestment effort fails: Despite pleas from relatives of those killed in the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, the state retirement board on Monday rejected a proposal by California Treasurer John Chiang to consider divesting from retailers that sell assault weapons. Los Angeles Times

THE ENVIRONMENT

In India: Three years ago, California was home to the world's biggest solar power park. India now has plans to build 14 parks that are the same size or bigger. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

At the port: SpaceX has entered into preliminary negotiations with the Port of Los Angeles for a lease that would expand the Hawthorne space company's port facilities to manufacture "large commercial transportation vehicles." Los Angeles Times

Big for transfer students: University of California President Janet Napolitano said Monday she would work to guarantee admission of all qualified state community college students to the UC system. Los Angeles Times

Go get some culture: The new Stewart Copeland-Jonathan Moore opera "The Invention of Morel" from the mavericks at Long Beach Opera comes with a boatload of issues to ponder. Here are just a few: Is unrequited love worth dying for? Does science know what's good for us? Is eternal life desirable? Los Angeles Times

Don’t try this at home: “He didn't like the beer, so he filed a class-action lawsuit.” Sacramento Bee

Exciting! Steven Spielberg is planning to start shooting the untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie for Disney in the U.K. in a little more than a year.” Variety

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles area: Cloudy, 68, Tuesday. Showers, 68, Wednesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 71, Tuesday. Partly cloudy, 74, Wednesday. San Francisco area: Showers, 56, Tuesday. Showers, 64, Wednesday. Sacramento: Showers, 59, Tuesday. Showers, 65, Wednesday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Greg Whittingham:

“My mother's family was devastated by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and spent the next 40 years recovering. From abject poverty, Mom took herself off to Berkeley and became a clinical psychologist; the first to achieve a university degree since her grandfather in the late 19th century. I'm a fifth-generation Californian and live on what's left of the family ranch I was born on. I've lived through every quake since the 1940s and fear only the growing threat of the terrible wildfires we are now living with. I have several degrees and owe my love of education to my mother, who achieved advanced education without assistance from her family; I'm very proud of her, a multitalented polyglot. Sadly I feel LAUSD let me down at every step, but I persisted in the face of it.”

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.

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