The Blackouts Rolled Over Some Good Newsom Moves on Housing

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)

Way to go, Governor Gav! It’s become harder to say that the state has done nothing about the housing crisis. Of course, much of the state didn’t see it—because they had no power. But during the PG&E blackouts, Newsom was signing a package of bills that could help make it easier to produce housing. That’s […]

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Did Donald Trump Win an Election for President of the World?

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)

At the recent Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, Sam Chang, who leads the Negative Vote Association, conducted an experiment. How does having the ability to vote no change an election outcome?  Sam is both Taiwanese and American. He lives in Taipei but is pursuing his idea, of the negative vote, via ballot measures in […]

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Is It Time to Repeal California Law To Help Congress Get Trump’s Taxes?

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 might be time for California to reverse its law designed to get President Trump’s taxes. Because the law might make it harder to get Trump’s taxes. California’s new law, which requires disclosure of tax returns to earn a place on the primary ballot, was a righteous effort to get tax returns from a thoroughly […]

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Newsom Does The Right Thing on Ballot Initiatives

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)

Plebiscites are bad. Elected officials shouldn’t sponsor ballot initiatives. But there are advantages to the fact that so many California politicians have sponsored measures. At the very least, they understand how the process really works. That’s the best explanation for Gov. Newsom’s veto of a bill (AB 1451) to bar paying petition circulators for every […]

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The Rap on Vallejo

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)

California’s greatest art is supposedly created by collisions between the different culture in our biggest cities.   But if that’s true, how did Vallejo become a capital of hip hop? The North Bay city of 120,000, in producing generations of acclaimed rappers, makes the case that, in our era of hyper-connectivity, the isolation of life on […]

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Collect Your Signatures in the Temple

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)

As direct democracy expands around the world, finding public space to collect signatures on referendum or initiative petitions has become a global challenge. Sometimes it’s quite hard. Here in California, local governments and corporations often use harassment or litigation to keep petition circulators away from places they should have the right to be. But Taiwan, […]

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Ten Commandments for Modern Direct Democracy

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)

Greetings from Taichung, Taiwan, and from the 2019 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy. We, more than 300 people from six continents, have met here to discuss direct democracy at a forum that was free and open to anyone in the world who wished to attend. Our conversations were inspired by Taiwan’s strong commitment to […]

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Could California Enact Global Policy—by Ballot Initiative?

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)

Right now, California’s critics dismiss the state’s efforts at fighting climate change by saying that one state can’t make global policy. That talking point is getting dated. Because ballot initiatives may be going global. I’m serving as co-president this week of the 2019 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which is taking place in Taichung, […]

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Come Back, Kamala

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)

Senator Harris, it’s time to come home.  And by that, I don’t mean to open a presidential campaign office, as you recently did. I say that not because you’re falling in the national polls, or failing to gain traction in the early caucus and primary states. I don’t even say that because you’re losing altitude […]

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Can We Stop Getting Distracted By Charters?

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)

Is the charter school nonsense over yet?  It’s probably too much to hope that the new law that puts new restrictions on charter schools will end the scapegoating of charter schools.  Over the past couple years, teachers’ unions have deflected criticism of the schools by blaming charters.  This blame is baloney. It blames the problems […]

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