Welcome to Joeville, 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)

Recently a startup founder in San Jose asked me a question: What would you do if you were starting a California city? My first answer: Get my head examined. For 40 years, the state government and California voters have steadily reduced the revenues and limited the discretion of municipal governments; anyone who starts a new […]

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If You Say You’re A Democrat or a Republican in California, You’re Not Telling the Truth

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)

Another problem with the top two system: It makes liars of most of Californians. I’m not just talking about the state officials, media members and others who persist in labeling our June elections “primaries” when they are the exact opposite of primaries, which involve parties picking their candidates for a general election. California eliminated primaries […]

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Election Shows GOP Is Still California’s Second Party

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)

Many had hoped that the first round of the 2018 elections in California would bring big changes and surprises. It doesn’t look that way. Instead, the election’s preliminary results – it will take a while until everything is counted and final — mostly showed all the things that haven’t changed. And chief among these lessons […]

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The Consultants Have Figured Out Top Two Now, Mr. Schnur

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)

Dan Schnur proved to be right, at least in one respect: the campaigns have figured out the top two. Six years ago, Dan and I debated the then-new political reforms of redistricting and top two at the Sacramento Press Club. I, arguing that the reforms made little positive impact, had the better case in terms […]

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California Is Second Best

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 world over, people long to finish first. But in California, it’s better to be second best. This is the larger truth at the center of the Golden State’s June 5 first-round elections for governor, a U.S. senator, and other statewide and legislative offices. Under our peculiar system, the top two finishers in each race […]

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The Quandary Posed by Props 69 and 70

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)

Propositions 69 and 70 on the June ballot are both bad policy of the kind California has long pursued, to its great detriment. Specifically, both measures add to the whips and chains that make California budgeting a house of bondage. Prop 69 creates even more inflexibility in an already inflexible budget system and adds even […]

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Could Cox Finish First?

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 race for governor has come down to the question of who might finish second, since Gavin Newsom has a persistent lead in polls. But don’t be surprised – and don’t overreact – if there’s a surprise in the top slot on June 5. John Cox could finish first. It’s not likely but it’s hardly […]

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Kafka Can’t Believe California 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)

BY FRANZ KAFKA (AS TOLD TO JOE MATHEWS) I keep hearing you Californians calling your state’s housing crisis Kafkaesque. You are far too kind: I never imagined a bureaucratic nightmare this cruel, absurd, and surreal. I don’t know exactly how I got to California, or even how I came back to life. But I appeared […]

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Goodbye, St. John

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 miss Saint John Chiang. Sure, the state treasurer is still trying to run as the white hat, against the morally compromised, wife-cheating black hats, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa. But the act has worn thin. Chiang pitches himself as the serious candidate, the sober candidate, the one who doesn’t screw around, who can be […]

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The California Media’s Unceasing (and Unacknowledged) Voter Suppression Campaign

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)

You’ve gotta hand it to California’s media. They may have troubles with their business models. But they never stop working to suppress the vote. My journalistic colleagues will probably call such a claim unfair. But what else do you call a persistent effort to misinform the public in a way that discourages people from voting? […]

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