The Trouble With Measure EE

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 schools are woefully underfunded. Taxes on property should be higher. So why am I rooting against Measure EE, the L.A. Unified School District measure on the June 4 special election ballot? Because process matters when it comes to democracy. And L.A. Unified flunked the basics of process on this measure, even when it didn’t […]

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The Joy of Watching a City Embrace 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)

California is an old and cynical direct democracy. We do little to make the process fairer, more inclusive or more democratic. Our machinations around initiative and referendum are almost always about winning some political advantage. That’s why I found it so refreshing to visit Mexico City recently and get a firsthand glimpse at the establishment […]

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A Slow Motion Tax Reform?

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)

Are Gov. Newsom and the Democrats pursuing a tax reform without actually declaring it? Conventional wisdom is that a big tax reform is impossible politically. It’s just too big a target for too many interests. Gov. Brown seem well positioned to pursue such a reform, but openly admitted that it was too heavy a lift […]

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California’s Greatest and Neediest Urban Park

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)

If I had a free Sunday to spend anywhere in California, I’d head for Balboa Park in San Diego. The Golden State has grand urban parks, from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to L.A.’s Griffith Park to Chico’s lesser-known Bidwell Park. But no public space here offers as many different experiences with as much sunny […]

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Turn SB 50 Into a 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)

Too many ideas for laws and constitutional amendments go to the ballot as initiatives directly, without stopping to pause at the legislature, or to get real scrutiny or debate. Sometimes these ideas are trivial, and only matter to a small number of Californians. That’s why I often rail against so many ballot measures—they don’t deserve […]

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Finally, Trump Does Something Right in California—Pardon Pat Nolan

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)

President Trump and his administration seem to delight in doing everything they can to harm California and its people. They pair this hostility with so many idiotic policies on immigration, taxation, health care, the environment, women’s rights, and other subjects that it’s a wonder California has only sued the administration 50 times. In this context, […]

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Here’s the Promise I want to Hear From 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)

(Editor’s Note: Joe Mathews will moderate a panel discussing “Will California Pick the Next President” in downtown Los Angeles tonight at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. Mathews will be joined by Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Gary Segura, vice president of the American Association of Political Consultants Rose […]

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The Maitre’d 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)

Watching Gavin Newsom deliver a seemingly endless press conference to present his revised May budget proposal, one couldn’t help but be impressed by his command of—and love for—policy details. But his manner of delivery was another story. Newsom’s style is both sweet and sour, a strange mix of smooth, accessible delivery and a habit of […]

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Why is UCLA More Important Than UC Berkeley?

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)

Berkeley. Schmerkeley. California’s most important educational institution is UCLA—and the contest really isn’t close. Now would be a good time for Californians to recognize this, and not only because the Westwood school is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. UCLA’s rapid rise is a California triumph that thoroughly rebuts all our excuses for not supporting […]

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Close Ballot Measure Committee Loophole With Public Financing

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)

Recent news reports focus on a so-called “loophole” in campaign finance in California—specifically, that politicians can accept donations of any amount by setting up political committees to support or oppose a ballot measure. This continues to be seen as a problem—a way to bribe politicians with big donations, and get around campaign finance limits. But […]

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