California Still Needs a Death Penalty—But Not For People

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)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declared moratorium on the death penalty isn’t all that important. California hasn’t executed anyone in years, and, despite reports to the contrary, it wasn’t going to execute anyone anytime soon. But the state still needs a death penalty, though not necessarily one for people. It needs a death penalty for laws, regulations […]

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State Income Taxes Aren’t Hurting California’s Baseball Teams

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)

LA Times columnist George Skelton has long been a critic of California’s progressive tax structure He has a point: the system produces volatile revenues. The counter to that is, of course, that overwhelming amounts of taxes come from the rich because they make overwhelming amounts of the income. But his latest argument—that the state’s high […]

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Big California City, Little Civic Engagement Office

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)

Los Angeles is a city of four million people. And it might soon launch a tiny office—of as many as eight people—to help those residents better participate in their government. And in California, this would be a big advance. Because while governance in our state is as complicated as a Google algorithm, we offer precious little assistance […]

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Should Google and Your Taxes Pay for Local News

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)

Whose job it is to revive local journalism in California? Our state’s elites have a clear, if dubious answer: themselves. Last year, Google announced it was putting $300 million into supporting local news. A few weeks ago, Facebook announced its own $300 million local news initiative. Philanthropists and foundations have invested in news nonprofits, like […]

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The Trouble With the Split Roll 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)

It may well make sense to roll back Prop 13 protections for commercial property, with the goal of providing more tax dollars to the state. But the split roll initiative scheduled for the 2020 ballot is the wrong way to do that. The big problem with this version of split roll isn’t the Prop 13 […]

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Could PG&E Sink Harris?

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 PG&E bankruptcy, and the scandals surrounding it, are about to go national. That could be both embarrassing and healthy for California and its leaders. The vehicle for this nationalization is the presidential campaign of California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.

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DiFi vs. the Kids

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)

There’s nothing quite as clarifying as being told that you’re being unrealistic by an 85-year-old. That’s what made Dianne Feinstein’s videotaped and condescending dismissal of a push from teenagers on behalf of the “Green New Deal” so powerful. Yes, the first version of the tape was edited, unfairly to make California’s very senior senator look […]

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Don’t Cut Taxes On Weed. Increase Enforcement on Scofflaws

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)

Instead of doing its job, the state wants to cut taxes. That’s the essence of a new legislative effort to cut taxes on marijuana being sold legally. The tax cut is meant to address a real problem: There are too many black-market illegal sales of cannabis and cannabis products, now more than a year into […]

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Merced and California’s Unfinished Dreams

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)

Have any grand but unfocused ambitions? Have an idea but no strategy to execute it? How about any half-finished projects clogging up your garage? Send them to Merced. That’s what the state of California does. Perhaps this is because it’s so convenient: a city of 83,000 people in the center of the Central Valley, and […]

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Huntington Beach’s Wall of Denial

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)

Who says you can’t build anything in California? Huntington Beach is busy constructing a wall of denial around whatever is left of its soul. The Orange County city has long been associated with the open and outlaw side of California. Named for a railroad robber baron (Henry Huntington), the city grew through oil speculation, aerospace, […]

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