California Coast Needs an Irish Wake

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Peace out, Pacifica.  Don’t despair, Del Mar.  Never stress, Newport Beach. Yes, sea levels are rising. Yes, California’s coastline is eroding and changing. And we are going to lose beloved beaches, bluffs, and homes.  But we must not let our responses to sea-level rise become dominated by fear, division, and local politics, which will produce […]

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“F– the POA” Is a Slogan With Power

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

After Chesa Boudin’s surprise victory in the San Francisco district attorney’s race, a prominent supporter of Boudin, Supervisor Sandra Brewer, shouted “F— the POA!” at an election party. The chant was directed at San Francisco’s Police Officers Association, the powerful police union, which spent big money against Boudin.  The chant occasioned criticism—about being a sore […]

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Quantum Computer for Governor

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Cut out the human middleman. Google’s quantum computer should challenge Gavin Newsom for governor. That quantum computer, which lives in Santa Barbara, is really what Californians want when they think of government. We detest politicians and rail against any who don’t follow our whims; we prefer fully programmed machines, like the computer. More important, Californians […]

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On Candidate Tax Returns Bill, Legislature Didn’t Even Check the California Constitution

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

I’ve long been criticized as “unrealistic” for arguing that the California constitution is essentially useless and should be replaced. I’m glad to see the California legislature agrees with me.  That agreement became clear during an extraordinary moment in a hearing before the California Supreme Court. The case was the legal challenge to the new state […]

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I am Not Trader Joe

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

For years, I’ve told children, newspaper editors, and other credulous people that I’m the Joe of Trader Joe’s. That’s a lie. But it’s true that the store and I grew up in the very same neighborhood. As a Pasadena child, I would ride my bike two blocks from my house to the Trader Joe’s on […]

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Does California Really Need Yet Another Statewide School Bond?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders have been bursting with self-congratulation about the new state school bond they’ve just placed on the March 2020 ballot. And they have some reason to do so. This school bond is designed to address some problems of previous such bonds, especially around equity. In the past, school bond […]

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Can The Russians Take Palmdale?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Never surrender the high ground to your enemies. Which means we ought to be wary of what the Russians might want with the high desert city of Palmdale. U.S. Rep. Katie Hill’s implosion and resignation have attracted a motley collection of potential candidates into the race. Among them is George Papadopoulos, who served the Russia-aided […]

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Thank you, PG&E!

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

I write this thank-you note because no corporation has done more than you to awaken the public to the challenges California faces, and it’s high time we acknowledged the enormity of your civic contribution. Thank you, first, for your transparency. While some rage at you for shutting off power to millions, I marveled at how […]

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Should We Reconsider District-Only Elections?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

It’s hard to see the benefits of district elections.  There’s little evidence that switching city elections from at-large to by-district—as California cities have been forced to do under legal threat—produces more diverse schools boards and city councils. (The real path to diversity involves a switch to partisan local election, with multi-member districts, party lists and […]

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California Republicans Reject My Vote

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Republicans in California have their standards. They’d rather lose every election than win my vote. I’m not a Democrat. I’m an independent who has voted for candidates of both parties (or at least, I did before Trump). So you might think the party would want to recruit me, or at least let me vote for […]

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