From Bakersfield, You Can See Forever

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)

From Yosemite Valley to the Golden Gate, California boasts extraordinary vistas. But if you’re looking for the state’s most thought-provoking view, skip the beaches and mountains, and head for Bakersfield’s Panorama Park. When you walk through this narrow neighborhood park atop the Panorama Bluffs on Bakersfield’s northern edge, you don’t actually see everything. It only […]

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Gavin Gives Sacramento What It Wants

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)

In his state of the state speech, Gov. Newsom gave Sacramento exactly what it wants: focus.  And still, the capital elites criticize him. Newsom, after being widely criticized for a lack of focus, focused his speech on homelessness. Of course, homelessness connects to other problems, like housing and jobs and healthcare, so he got into […]

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Ghost Candidates Show the Wisdom of a Second Ballot

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)

In California, it should be legal to vote twice. But only the second ballot should be counted. Unfortunately, you can’t vote twice—a problem exposed by the “ghost candidates” who showed up on Democratic presidential primary ballots in California. Ballots are put together months in advance, and nine candidates on the ballot had dropped out of […]

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A Tale of Two California Elections

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 the best of California elections. It’s the worst of California elections.  It’s never been easier to vote in California. It’s never been harder to figure out how to vote.  These March elections represent the culmination of years of herculean efforts by state and local officials to boost the state’s historically low voter turnouts, by […]

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The Prop 13 School Bond Doesn’t Provide the Right Kind of Money for Schools

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)

Backers of Prop 13–the school bond on the March 3 ballot, not the 1978 ballot initiative—say they want to support students. But their bond may leave California’s students worse off—by gobbling up political attention and money that would be better spent on education, rather than buildings. This Prop 13 is complicated, and I like some […]

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Mexico City Should be California’s National Capital

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 one quarter of the 19th century, Mexico City was California’s national capital.  I wish it could be again. I’ve been visiting Mexico City to plan a direct democracy conference there next year. And I’ve been struck by how well the Mexican capital’s sprawling greatness fits California. I also wonder if Mexico City’s recent advances […]

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Why My Kids Loathe Mike Bloomberg

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)

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has broken through. He’s united all three of my young sons—ages 11, 9, and 6—on one political stance.  They hate Bloomberg.  The reason has nothing to do with politics, about which my boys could care less,and everything to do with the annoyances of saturation advertising. Bloomberg’s barrage of […]

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Steyer Should Quit the Race and Buy the Sacramento Bee

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)

Tom Steyer should stop spending his money on a presidential race he can’t win—and start spending it on California newspapers. Since he got in the race last year, Steyer has spent more than $100 million on his campaign, even though he has no chance of winning.  That is far more than it would cost to […]

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The California Way of Coaching

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)

Californians have failed to contain the autocratic excesses of our technology executives. But we have made progress in curbing another group of would-be dictators: Little League coaches. For two decades, Silicon Valley has been the headquarters for a national nonprofit—the Positive Coaching Alliance—that is changing how youth sports are coached. Based in Mountain View, Positive […]

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Proportional Representation Is Showing Results in California’s Democratic Presidential Race

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)

Bernie Sanders campaigned in Chico and opened an office in Bakersfield.  Pete Buttigieg toured the Central Valley. Mike Bloomberg hit Stockton and Fresno. Proportional representation election systems, a reform I’ve long championed, have been dismissed as unrealistic in California. But in this presidential primary season, PR is being quietly tried out, and there are signs […]

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