When Will We Finally Take Title and Summary Away from Attorneys General?

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 become a dishonorable California tradition: state attorneys general draft titles and summaries for ballot initiatives that don’t pass the laugh test.  Our current A.G., Xavier Becerra, is getting justified criticism for his summary of the split roll initiative. That measure should be properly explained as lifting the Prop 13 limits on reassessments of commercial […]

Read more

California is Still a Republican State

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)

Did da Vinci spray graffiti over the Mona Lisa? Did Hitchcock destroy reels of Vertigo? Of course not. So why are Republicans waging war against California, their party’s greatest masterpiece?  For all the denunciations of California as Democratic bastion, the larger, historic truth is exactly the opposite: Modern California is in almost all respects the […]

Read more

How Taiwan Got Same-Sex Marriage With the Help of Ballot Initiatives

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 year, Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages. How? The answer is a story that involves direct democracy, and might be familiar to Californians. In 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that equal rights guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. That ruling gave the legislature two years to enact laws […]

Read more

Bring Back Top Gun

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)

Bring back Topgun!  By that, I do not mean Top Gun, the cliché-ridden, late-Cold War, Tom Cruise film about Naval aviators in San Diego. That Top Gun is already on its way back with a sequel next year.  No, what California really needs back is Topgun, the U.S. Navy’s graduate school for elite fighter pilots […]

Read more

Fresno’s Ag Leadership Is a Reminder of Poverty

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)

Fresno County recently touted its agricultural leadership. New numbers show that in 2018, Fresno County led the nation in agricultural production, narrowly defeating Kern County (Tulare County wasn’t far behind). But it’s a distinction that may not be worth celebrating. Why? Because agriculture is closely associated with poverty. The tallies in the national survey of […]

Read more

Would California Politics Be Better Off If Real Punches Were Thrown?

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)

American politics are pugilistic in the metaphorical sense. Actually throwing a punch and hitting someone is still rare. Taiwan is a different story. Throwing punches in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan is a longstanding tradition. It’s also part of the political culture at the local level. As I arrived in the country to serve as co-president of […]

Read more

Does Homelessness Require a Special Court?

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)

Once in a while, a ballot initiative suggests a new idea. Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto, an L.A. Democrat, has come up with one. He has filed an initiative that seeks a middle way to dealing with homeless—by creating a special court. Gatto’s argument is that our current homelessness policy is at once too tough and […]

Read more

The Blackouts Rolled Over Some Good Newsom Moves on Housing

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)

Way to go, Governor Gav! It’s become harder to say that the state has done nothing about the housing crisis. Of course, much of the state didn’t see it—because they had no power. But during the PG&E blackouts, Newsom was signing a package of bills that could help make it easier to produce housing. That’s […]

Read more

Did Donald Trump Win an Election for President of the World?

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)

At the recent Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, Sam Chang, who leads the Negative Vote Association, conducted an experiment. How does having the ability to vote no change an election outcome?  Sam is both Taiwanese and American. He lives in Taipei but is pursuing his idea, of the negative vote, via ballot measures in […]

Read more

Is It Time to Repeal California Law To Help Congress Get Trump’s Taxes?

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 might be time for California to reverse its law designed to get President Trump’s taxes. Because the law might make it harder to get Trump’s taxes. California’s new law, which requires disclosure of tax returns to earn a place on the primary ballot, was a righteous effort to get tax returns from a thoroughly […]

Read more