Black Bart for the Black Panther

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)

2018 was an awfully rough year for many Californians. But that means it offers no shortage of candidates for Black Bart. Victims of our massive fires—and the firefighters who worked almost constantly to protect people and communities—were first to come to mind when considering a year when the town of Paradise literally burned to the […]

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Grading the Brown Record: the Public Narrative

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)

​As Gov. Jerry Brown closes his fourth term, he is being widely celebrated as a success. But his record and the state of the state, viewed more closely, doesn’t merit such celebration. ​I’ve been asked repeatedly by other journalists and Californians how I see Brown, and why I don’t see him as a success. So […]

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Capra the Californian

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 California story needs a remake. Get me Capra! Frank—legendary director of films from It Happened One Night to It’s a Wonderful Life—has been dead since 1991, you say? No matter! Just this fall, Capra published a novel, a short David-and-Goliath tale about developers and locals in the eastern Sierra. So just dig up his […]

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Higher Turnout Shouldn’t Discourage Direct 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 high turnout in this November’s elections in California is good news – mostly. More people were engaged, and new laws to encourage voting did the job. Indeed so many people voted that it may be possible that more than half of the 25-plus million Californians who are eligible to vote may have cast ballots. […]

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Does Top Two Mean Democrats Rule 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)

Republicans face all kinds of obstacles of their own making if they are ever to return to power in California. They also face a potent opponent in top two. Indeed, top two now looks like a key piece of the one-party state Democrats are building. It will make it hard for the GOP or any […]

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The Bay Bridge and Other Big Mistakes

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)

How do you learn from a really big mistake? Walk across it. Which is why I recently found myself putting on a windbreaker and beginning a long, slow walk across the east span of the Bay Bridge, from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island. This piece of the bridge, completed in 2013, is probably the biggest […]

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Never Mind Pelosi. Why Does McCarthy Hold Onto His Leadership Post?

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’m among those poor unfortunate souls who does not understand the historic greatness of Nancy Pelosi, and thinks the Democrats need new leadership if they’re going to save the republic from Trumpism. But I understand why the Democrats want to keep Pelosi. And give her this—she just won an election. Kevin McCarthy can’t say that.

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A Love Story About California Housing–Part 1

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)

No house on earth means more to me than my paternal grandparents’ small blue home near the bottom of a windswept hill in the Bay Area city of San Mateo. I’ve visited the place thousands of times; I even lived there for a few months when I was 7. But this visit will be different. […]

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Those Switching Orange County Maps Aren’t a Triumph. They Are a Tragedy

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)

On Twitter and Facebook, I see people celebrating that screen shot of two maps of Orange County. The maps divide the county into Congressional districts. The map on the left shows a mostly red county, with two blue districts, as it was previous to this year’s elections. The second map shows the county all blue. […]

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Karen Bass for Speaker of the House

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’m not a Democrat. But with the Republican Party turned Trumpian, I find myself having to root for the Democrats to win. Is this what it feels like to be a Mets fan? This brings me to Nancy Pelosi’s foolish effort to install herself again as speaker of the house. I don’t want to rehash […]

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