Get Adobe Flash player


Why Not Drug Test Legislators?

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)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari called a few days ago for mandatory drug testing for all California legislators and statewide officeholders. Then, some hours later, he said he had been joking. My first reaction, before he recanted, was that this was a terrible waste of money, given the abundant evidence we already have about politicians’ […]

Read more

What Should State Do With Those Tesla Millions?

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)

Don’t tell us you don’t have the money, Jerry. Gov. Brown and the legislature were perfectly willing to give a single company, Tesla, $500 million, mostly in tax credits, to build a battery plant here. But now that Tesla took a better deal in Nevada, state leaders are dropping the subject of that $500 million, […]

Read more

California Pre-K Is Doomed: The State’s Lack of Ambition Will Kill Universal Preschool Before It Starts

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)

Hard to believe that only a decade ago—back in the fall of 2014—the future of pre-kindergarten looked so promising in California. State leaders were congratulating themselves on passing a budget and new legislation that promised more than 40,000 new full-day pre-K spots for low-income 4-year-olds. California was celebrated as a leader of a nationwide movement […]

Read more

Other Things That Need a Kill Switch

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)

New state legislation requires a kill switch on Smartphones, so they can be turned off when they’re lost or stolen. Not a bad idea, but why stop there? California’s system of governance is broken in large part because it’s so inflexible. In other words, too many things are locked in and can’t be turned off. […]

Read more

Would Arkansas Have Saved Six Californias?

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)

Tim Draper’s Six Californias measure won’t be on the ballot, because just two-thirds of signatures in a random check were valid – meaning that there weren’t enough signatures to qualify. If Draper had been collecting signatures in Arkansas, that wouldn’t have been the end of the story. California initiative law is inflexible, and designed to […]

Read more

Why Are They Distancing Themselves From Your Party, Mr. Brulte?

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)

How clueless are the top officials of the California Republican Party? Even more clueless than you might have imagined. In a must-read story full of unintentionaly hilariousness, the Sacramento Bee reported on emails between California GOP chief Jim Brulte and other key players in the party. In the email, they whine about the two strongest […]

Read more

Kashkari Represents Another Failure of the Top Two

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)

Neel Kashkari should be the embodiment of what backers of the Top Two (it-is-not-a-primary, don’t call it a primary) promised us. He is moderate. He is willing to depart from the doctrine of his own party. He presents himself as less partisan. He talks all about working together. Trouble is, the top two makes it […]

Read more

Kashkari’s Jerry Maguire Moment

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)

Much of the commentary about Neel Kashkari this fall is laughable. He’s constantly being advised that he needs to do certain things – raise more money, attack Brown, hit a home run in the date, etc. Let’s face it: Neel Kashkari doesn’t have to do a damn thing. One of the privileges of being Neel […]

Read more

More Transparency Needed in the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act

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 good government coalition backing SB 1253 argues that the bill represents significant ballot initiative reform – it does not, as I’ve explained here and here previously – by emphasizing the provisions to improve transparency in the measure, which is called the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act. But even in transparency, this legislation falls short. Yes, […]

Read more

Oregon Citizens Sniff Out the Top Two Primary

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)

Could the Citizens Initiative Review saved California from the horrors of the top two primary? Hard to know, but the thought occurred as I read what Oregon’s CIR process – during which a representative jury of regular voters spends a week talking with people about a ballot initiative and then makes it finding – produced […]

Read more