Dear Santa, Bring Immigrants!

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)

Kris Kringle Santa Claus Lane Carpinteria, CA 93013 Dear Kris, I hope you don’t mind me writing you at the California beach house address you slipped me when we met at that Mattel corporate event. I would have mailed this to the North Pole, but I don’t have any international stamps. I know most of […]

Read more

Black Bart 2017: Yes!

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 hard year to choose a Black Bart. But it’s easy to say who can’t be Black Bart: President Trump. You can’t be California’s Black Bart if you don’t have the guts to step foot in the state of California. It’s not good enough to just fly over us on your way to whipping up […]

Read more

Napolitano At the End

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 liked the idea of Janet Napolitano as leader of the University of California system. The UC had become a convenient political punching bag for the governor and the legislature. Instead of investing in the system to transform it, California’s politicians would cut the UC – and then blame the UC for its responses, especially […]

Read more

To Be Blunt, California’s Marijuana Industry Is Stoking High Anxiety

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’s 2018 transition to legal marijuana contains a mind-bending paradox: Ending prohibitions on marijuana is going to require an awful lot of aggressive law enforcement. When January 1 rolls around, California will not merely be permitting adults 21 and older to buy marijuana for recreational purposes. The state and its cites also will be scrambling […]

Read more

Republican Tax Bill Is an Attack on Local 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)

The real problem with the Republican tax bill, now being reconciled by the U.S. House and Senate, is not about taxes. It’s about democracy. The legislation was not put together in public, with hearings and scrutiny that could allow the bill to take on changes and improvements. It was put together behind closed doors, rapidly, […]

Read more

The Gubernatorial Candidates Are Missing Three Big Agendas

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)

What are you going to do if it all goes off the rails? Politicians are advised not to advise hypotheticals, but the candidates for governor need to be pressed to explain how they would address some likely negative turns in California in the years ahead. The candidates are rolling out policy agendas, with Gavin Newsom […]

Read more

California needs a great villain

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 hard to find a villain who can bring Californians together. That’s why Charlie Manson’s death produced so many media remembrances. Manson represented the time, a half-century ago, when Californians shared more experiences—even fear of the Manson Family. Today, we’re too polarized to agree on who is the bad guy. Academically, we prefer to blame […]

Read more

Gas Tax Boost Is Smaller Than the Backlash

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 gas tax is a perfect distillation of what’s wrong with Gov. Brown’s small ball politics. He pursued a policy that’s too small, and too safe. On a policy matter, it doesn’t produce much. It produces revenues that aren’t enough to do more than make a small dent in the state’s infrastructure needs. But politically […]

Read more

Revisiting Feinstein and Formerly Anti-Immigrant Pols

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 recently wrote in this space about Dianne Feinstein’s development – 25 years ago – of an approach to “illegal” immigration that became a template for more virulent anti-immigrant attacks from politicians from Pete Wilson to Donald Trump. I heard from many people in response. Feinstein’s partisans said it was unfair. More than a year […]

Read more

A Cheech Thanksgiving

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)

This week, California should give thanks for Cheech. Richard Anthony Marin deserves our gratitude not just because his new autobiography, Cheech Is Not My Real Name … But Don’t Call Me Chong, turns out to be the best California book of the year. And not just because his career should give you hope that no […]

Read more