Is Steyer Running for President—Or California 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)

Tom Steyer is supposedly a candidate for president. But he is spending much of his time at home in California.  Yes, he’s made trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, but he resembles a statewide candidate in California. It’s not just his schedule of events, most recently a climate change event in Oakland. His team is […]

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What Does the Real Estate Slowdown Mean for Split Roll?

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 ballot initiatives to split the roll—to treat commercial property tax assessments differently than residential property assessments—have been developed in the context of sky-high real estate prices. But Californians may vote on the latest version of the initiative in a very different context. The real estate market is looking pretty soft in different parts of […]

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Lyft and Uber Make a Dumb Ballot Initiative Threat

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)

Lyft and Uber are rich and powerful companies, but they don’t understand California or its direct democracy. Witness their collective threat (along with DoorDash) to fund a $90 million ballot initiative to effectively reverse AB 5, legislation that could turn their drivers into employees. Lyft and Uber made the threat before AB 5 is passed […]

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Newsom’s No Good, Very Bad Late Summer

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 know when a politician is having a bad stretch? When he’s coming down in favor of measles outbreaks and utility bailouts, and against community newspapers. That’s where Gov. Gavin Newsom finds himself at the end of the legislative session.  First, he has foolishly demanded last-minute changes in a well-crafted pro-vaccine bill that […]

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Is California the Center 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)

The Center of the World is in California. But California isn’t the center of the world. This paradox explains how California became so central to the culture and economy of Planet Earth. Since our state is in the middle of nowhere, on the dry edge of a lightly populated continent, Californians have always had to […]

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California Needs a Campaign Manager

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)

California has more than enough candidates in the presidential race—Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson. But the state lacks a campaign for itself. And it will need it. President Trump and the Republicans often seem to be campaigning less against any Democratic presidential contender than against the state itself. Yes, most Trumpian attacks on the […]

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The Greenland Purchases Makes the Case for California Independence

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 all the joking and hijinks and madness inspired by President Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, there is a serious lesson for California. And it’s this: political independence has real value. Greenland is part of Denmark. But it has real sovereignty and power—indeed, it’s had “home rule” for four decades. It’s also been engaged in […]

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The New Split Roll Is Even Worse Than the Last

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 newly filed split roll initiative is even worse than the last. To be more precise, it’s even more complicated. Rather than splitting the property tax rolls between commercial and residential properties—hence, the name split roll—it actually breaks the roll into pieces.  Call it splinter roll. Specifically, the new initiative creates all kinds of exemptions […]

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Why California Should Close Failing School Districts

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)

School has begun for the 40,000-plus students of Sweetwater Union High School District. But the district’s crisis never ends.  Sweetwater rarely makes the statewide news, but it’s California’s largest secondary school district. Sweetwater’s high schools and middle schools serve oft-forgotten communities near the U.S.-Mexico border—Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, and San Ysidro.  While some […]

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Stop Repeating the Lie About the OC Turning Blue

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)

While I’m glad to see Trump-era Republicans suffer humiliation and worse, the headlines about “Orange County Turning Blue” really upset me. That framing – the O.C. Is Now Blue — represents how awfully anti-democratic American politics has become. The idea reflects the “winner-take-all” thinking that poisons our politics. When results and elections are close, we […]

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