Did Trump Secretly Write AB 1451?

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)

AB 1451, legislation sponsored by people who call themselves Democrats, is such a nasty and dishonest attack on California democracy that it’s fair to wonder if President Trump wrote it. As I’ve explained before, California has a weak, rickety and highly expensive system for qualifying state and local ballot measures. AB 1451 makes that system […]

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Trump Intervention on Homelessness Would Get Californians Off the Hook

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)

For California’s state and local officials, what would a Trump intervention on homelessness represent? Political deliverance. Our officials haven’t been able to get a handle on a wickedly complicated problem—despite huge investments of money and time on homelessness. The public thus blames, correctly, local and state officials who can’t rally to address homelessness. (The public […]

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Biden’s Age Keeps Kamala Alive

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’re already seeing some early obituaries for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign. But they’re premature.  Yes, Kamala’s campaign is on the decline. But she has one hard fact going for her. Joe Biden is 76. He will be 77 before Thanksgiving. That’s historically old for a leading presidential candidate. And Biden shows his age—he’s […]

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The Trouble With SB 5

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)

SB 5 is a political success, but it shouldn’t become law. SB 5 was the legislation that the local government lobby used to fight off the threat posed by SB 50, Scott Wiener’s housing bill. SB 5 proposed changes to produce new housing, without forcing local governments to do much of anything. The point of […]

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AB 5 Isn’t About Protecting Workers. It’s About Enhancing Politicians’ Power

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)

Imagine you’re a California politician, and you need to raise money—for your own campaigns, or to run issue or ballot measures campaigns on subjects that matter most to you. What would be the easiest way to make fundraising easier? Here’s one answer: come up with legislation that covers virtually every piece of the state economy. […]

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Why Lara Should Resign

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 Ricardo Lara scandal is a good thing. First, Lara’s acceptance of donations from people in the insurance industry exposes the problem of making insurance commissioners elected officials. That means they must raise money, and the people who give money to insurance commissioner candidates are people who want things from insurance commissioners.  Second, it points […]

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Facing a Serious Problem, Sacramento Again Turns to Formula

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 there no serious challenge that state government won’t pretend to address with a formula? Sacramento’s preference for formulas over actual policy solutions was the main story of the end of 2019’s legislative session. The most notable new formula was created by a bill designed to prevent rent gouging. That’s the Sacramento pattern. Our state […]

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Fabiola’s Fabulous College Fund

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 spring—as federal prosecutors announced charges against wealthy Californians who paid bribes to get their kids into elite universities—a poor kid from a poor town faced her own dilemma: How could she help others go to college? Fabiola Moreno Ruelas, an 18-year-old from Gonzales in the Salinas Valley, was perhaps California’s most unlikely philanthropist. She […]

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Scary Santa Cruz

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 Santa Cruz the scariest place in California?   The coastal county of 275,000 tortured souls is not our most dangerous place, but it embodies the greatest fears of Californians, which are all about our powerlessness   Our coastal beauty is under attack by climate change, our immigrant neighbors are being persecuted by our country’s own government, […]

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California Democrats Are Embracing Real Political Reform

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)

Good news. The California Democratic Party is embracing real, smart political reform—even though such reforms are not in the party’s political interests. Late last month, the party executive board adopted support for two sets of reforms. The first involves representative democracy. Specifically, the executive board comes out in favor of proportional representation and multi-member districts, […]

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