Embrace Your Inner Cow, Devin

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)

Devin Nunes needs a thicker hide. You know a politician has gone off the rails when he can’t take a joke, as Nunes has failed to do, suing a Twitter account “Devin Nunes’ cow” as part of a $250 million lawsuit against his critics. You have to worry about a politician who lashes out when […]

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Old Columnists Think Yesterday’s Votes Should Control Today’s Leaders. I Don’t!

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)

Dan Walters, George Skelton, and Joel Fox say the Democrats don’t believe in democracy. Because once a majority of the electorate—which might be a tiny minority of the actual population, but who cares?–vote on something on one day, they’ve decided it for all time. That’s the Walters-Skelton-Fox logic, at least. In democracy, apparently, you shouldn’t […]

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California’s Death Penalty, An Appreciation

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 death penalty in California is dead! Long live the death penalty! That lede isn’t a joke. Nor a contradiction. In California, the death penalty has long existed simultaneously as grave problem and  necessary tool. So if Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty becomes a permanent ban, we Californians should celebrate the end […]

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In California Running for President Is Only for the Rich

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 not just a political reality that you must be rich to run for president. It’s state policy, too. Indeed, Secretary of State Alex Padilla is defending the premise that one must be rich to get on the ballot for president in California. That may sound like a peculiar stance for a rising progressive politician, […]

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Redding’s Supernatural Church

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)

Is this heaven, or Redding? The North State city sits between the godly and the earthly—and not just because of the divine spectacle of nearby Mount Shasta.  Redding is home to a church with a commitment to community so intense it’s almost supernatural. Bethel Church isn’t a household name, but it should be. No institution […]

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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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