California Kids, Use Your Power

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)

Dear California Kids, Don’t let us adults destroy your futures! This moment gives you unprecedented power to fix what’s wrong with how California treats kids. I am begging you to use it.  Before COVID-19, California was shortchanging its 9.1 million children in education and health. Now in crisis, the state’s adults are conspiring to make […]

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Why Californians Should Celebrate Monterey’s Birthday

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)

Monterey turns 250 next month. The rest of the state should claim the date as its birthday too.    Monterey’s beginnings are the closest thing California, an orphan of a state, has to a birth story. Admission Day—September 9, 1850, when California became an American state—isn’t a birthday, since California was a province of Spain and […]

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How a Rural California Town Got Universal Broadband

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 California is really the global tech capital, why is it so hard for our small towns to get the Internet service they need? One answer to that question is in Gonzales, a Salinas Valley settlement of 9,000. While  California’s biggest cities now struggle to provide Internet access for people to work and study from […]

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Budgeting by Trump

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)

Remember a long, long time ago—all the way back to February—when our state and its leaders were committed to resisting President Trump at all costs. Three months later, Gov. Gavin Newsom, our resistor-in-chief, is proposing to put Trump in charge of the California budget. These are strange times, and this strategy may be good politics. […]

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Give Me an “A” for Flunking California Distance Learning

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’m doing my duty as a California parent. I’m flunking distance learning. Because failure isn’t just an option when you must become your children’s teacher during the worst pandemic in a century. Failure is the goal. Imagine the educational carnage if distance learning didn’t fail! If parents proved better instructors than teachers, how could unions […]

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Save Local Government By Eliminating Local Governments

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 finally getting the local government apocalypse it needs.  I love local government. In most places, it’s the most democratic, participatory, and effective level of government, and it deserves to be the most powerful and best-funded. But in California, local governments are too weak and small to be effective. Why? There are simply too […]

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It’s Time for Home Repair

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 you’re lucky enough in this pandemic to not have much to do—no job to work remotely, no children to help with distance learning, no volunteering to do because you’re old or have a health condition that makes you at risk—then take a look around the house One unexplored piece of California’s housing crisis is […]

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The Peter Navarro Principle

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 20th century gave us the Peter Principle: in a hierarchy, you’ll get promoted until you reach your level of incompetence. The 21st century gives us the Peter Navarro Principle: if you’re relentlessly angry and accusatory, your incompetence will be no obstacle to your rise. Peter Navarro is a failed California politician who now, frighteningly, […]

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Why California Can’t Cut its Way Past COVID

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)

Coronavirus is forcing Californians into isolation. But it has brought us together in one way: by fusing our biggest problems into one colossal crisis. That crisis could be our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the state—if we can ignore the conventional wisdom that this is a time to shelter our ambitions in place.  For Californians, COVID-19 […]

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No Representation for Non-Bosses

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)

Governor Gavin Newsom’s economic task force has plenty of representation if you’re a boss. It’s full of presidents, CEOs, board chairs, and directors of various enterprises in business, labor, government and academia. For those few of us—we humble few—who aren’t bosses, well, we don’t have any representation at all.  I suspect non-bosses may constitute a […]

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