How the 2016 Senate Race Will Divide 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)

Are you a Kamala or a Loretta? Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez—the two leading candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year—confront Californians with a choice. But it’s not a choice about competing policies or political visions. Californians don’t have political arguments about what we believe anymore. Harris and Sanchez […]

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Around the World, Limiting 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 not alone. Every year in California it seems, there are legislative attempts to put new regulations on direct democracy. I’m not talking about the big redesign the California initiative process needs, so that it fits better with the rest of government. I’m talking about the little bills on higher filing fees and restrictions […]

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Remember When Brown Was For Local Control?

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 I used to write that Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t have much of a plan or an idea behind his second go-round as governor, the protests came back hard. No, no, he’s for local control. The case for Brown as champion of the locals went like this. He did realignment in criminal justice to give […]

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A California Columnist in Arab Spring’s Court

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)

Living in an exceptional place is hard work. Especially when your place needs big changes. Californians know this well. We feel such an obligation to live up to our reputation as “The Great Exception” among U.S. states, as the writer Carey McWilliams famously called us, that we routinely embrace novel schemes that other American places […]

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Why California Needs More Police

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 wouldn’t know it by watching all the news about police-community conflict, or by going to protests against police racism and militarization, or by tracking all the Sacramento legislation on the use of force by law enforcement. But California’s biggest problem when it comes to policing remains the same: There isn’t enough of it. Of […]

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It’s A Problem That the Tax Bonanza Is a Problem

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 all know the harm California’s broken budget system can do when the economy is struggling. But now we’re seeing the harm it can do when times are better. You can see the dynamic in the way Sacramento has defined what should be good news – billions in unanticipated revenues above projections – as a […]

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In SD7 Race, Isn’t the Top Two Grand?

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’ve been so critical of the top two, but what was I thinking? In the SD 7 race, the top two is demonstrating what it can do. Isn’t it grand? First, look at all that money. More than $6.2 million at last count, much of it from independent committees. We simply wouldn’t have that kind […]

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Isn’t It About Another Time for Another Useless Tax Commission?

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)

Yes, climate change is messing with the California weather. But the California budget climate, and its cycles, never really changes. Now that people outside government are talking about taxes – tax cuts and tax hikes and tax reforms – it won’t be long before the state’s leaders respond with a tried-and-true dodge. They’ll appoint a […]

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The Best Revenge Is Giving the Press Your Calendars

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 in the press and the government accountability world see the right to read politicians’ calendars as an example of democracy and free information. I see it as punishment. While covering Governor Schwarzenegger (and writing a book about him), one of my tasks was to read and make copies of his calendars, which were public […]

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Boyfriend’s Back and He’s Watering the Lawn

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)

It’s a familiar feature of polling on budgets and taxation in our state: Californians think that there’s not enough money for programs and that the budget and taxes don’t work very well. But ask them about solutions? Good luck. All their ideas involve imposing cuts and taxes on others. In this way, the California public […]

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