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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How My Grandma Could Solve the ‘End of Life’ Debate

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)

Seventy-four years ago on a rainy afternoon in Long Beach, a bride in a silk bobbinet gown stood at the back of the Presbyterian church, preparing to walk down the aisle. Next to her was her father, a Naval commander, who eyed the groom warily. With music playing and the congregation waiting, he leaned in […]

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Repeal Prop 218

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 drought has done at least one good thing – it’s shined a spotlight on Prop 218. Specifically, a court’s decision to block a tiered-pricing scheme for water in one Orange County community – as a violation of Prop 218 – is responsible for the attention. Gov. Brown criticized the decision as limiting the flexibility […]

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Why I’m Still Going to Tunisia (And It Might Be Too Late for You)

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)

About a week after I explained in this space why I’m heading to Tunis, Tunisia, to serve as co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, the center of Tunis was the site of a terrorist attack that killed many innocent people around the national museum. Some readers asked if I was still going. […]

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