To Improve L.A. Voter Turnout: Experiment

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)

Like a man who bangs his head against the wall to cure a headache, Los Angeles will hold more municipal elections this March. The certain result: another low-turnout embarrassment that draws the usual lamentations about how our democracy is in peril. Enough with the crying. If California’s civic leaders are so sure that Los Angeles […]

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Team Educate Runs Up Big Lead on Team Medicate

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)

When you watch a California budget season, the best way to understand what you’re watching is as a game between three teams. Those three teams represent the three major functions of the state: Educate, Medicate, and Incarcerate. These days, this is really a two-team race, however. Because Team Incarcerate is in the penalty box, forced […]

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A Question for All The Born-Again Democratic Poverty Fighters

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)

Who knew there were so many poverty fighters among Democrats in the legislature? Heck, who knew that there were Republican poverty fighters too? And why are so many coming out of the woodwork now, in the wake of yet another austerity budget from Gov. Jerry Brown? I share many of the concerns about the need […]

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Think Big, California

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)

In today’s California, we set big, ambitious goals for improving energy efficiency, fighting climate change, and, well, not much else. Gov. Jerry Brown’s inaugural address this month was a case in point. The governor again expressed his famous skepticism of big plans and big spending, then made an exception for energy and climate change, proposing […]

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Will Top Two Ruin Our Senate Fun?

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)

The retirement of a four-term Senator should open a breath of fresh air into California politics. But the stench of the top two system is fouling things up. It’s rare to have a moment full of possibility. So many qualified people could run. And the sheer numbers of possible candidates provide the opportunity for an […]

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The University of California vs. Hollywood

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)

We are at the point in the UC vs. Jerry Brown budget movie when both sides have drawn their arms and made their threats. But no one has fired. The UC has drawn on Brown, with the regents approving tuition hikes that go away only with more support from the legislature. Brown responded in kind […]

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Pay for Retiree Health Care by Putting California Government Workers in Obamacare

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 I’ve stated here before, there is no reason for California governments to continue retiree health care benefits for those who aren’t already retired or vested. It’s costly as heck (and getting costlier), and money hasn’t been set aside to pay for the benefits. And this country has Obamacare and Medicare to cover government retirees. […]

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The New California Dream: To Stay Put

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)

Today’s California dream is not your grandfather’s California dream. So why do we keep telling ourselves that we’re still seeking the same California dream? “California dream” has become a verbal tic in speeches, a graffiti we scrawl on signs and headlines, without thinking about its meaning. Democrats and Republicans alike, as they assumed new offices […]

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What Should the Next Senator Be?

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 political class, predictably, is having the wrong conversation again. We’re talking about who should replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. Instead, we should be talking about what should replace Boxer. Boxer had strengths – as a strong, progressive voice that represented her state and as a better fighter for dollars than her reputation […]

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Brown Will Be Governor Until 2030, Whether He Lives That Long Or Not

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 Tuesday’s high-speed rail groundbreaking in Fresno, Gov. Jerry Brown talked about the year 2030, the target date for getting actual trains in service. “I’ll be 92 in 2030, so I’m working out, I’m pumping iron, I’m eating vegetables. I want to be around for the 50 percent reduction in petroleum [consumption], the six or […]

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