Black Bart 2019 Nominees: Wiener and Gonzalez

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 Black Bart was a game-player and a schemer. And in 2019, California politics was full of games and schemes. The early favorite for Black Bart was our own U.S. senator, Kamala Harris, but it turned out that she and her team couldn’t play the presidential game. The year concludes with Harris moving to Iowa, […]

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California Office Pool 2020

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 is the 11th annual edition of the California Office Pool. It was inspired by the late, great New York Times columnist William Safire, who made a habit of writing an annual column he called Office Pool. In it, Safire offered, multiple-choice style, a series of possible news events that could take place in the new […]

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Avoiding My Block Party

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 it still worth getting to know your neighbors? I wondered that recently as my neighbors organized a block party in my San Gabriel Valley neighborhood. I wasn’t looking forward to it.  After all, we’d been happily living here since 2011, and had no problems with neighbors, even though we didn’t know them well. And […]

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Is Kamala Damaging Her California Future?

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 presidential campaign of Kamala Harris is on life support. The New York Times and Washington Post recently published obituaries for her White House prospects. And she’s earned a reputation as a poor manager of the campaign who can’t deliver a consistent message. If her campaign fails and shuts down, will it damage her in […]

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Governor, If You Still Believe in the Tax Returns Requirement, Put It on the 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)

Sometimes, it’s how you do something, not what you do, that gets you in trouble. That was the case with the legislature and governor’s efforts to force President Trump to release his tax returns. Their “how” was a law that required presidential candidates and other candidates for statewide office to release their tax returns as […]

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The “Frozen” Tyranny

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)

Our republic has survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, even the 2016 election. But can it survive the new sequel to Frozen? I doubt it.  While this decade has seen autocrats rise globally, no unelected ruler of the 2010s has set as seductive an example of unaccountable authoritarianism as Queen Elsa, the monarch in […]

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San Francisco Criticism Won’t Hurt Gascón

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 this how San Franciscans express their love? San Francisco’s mayor and city attorney both appeared to be settling scores when they endorsed Los Angeles D.A. Jackie Lacey in her re-election bid. This endorsement was reported as a snub of George Gascón, the San Francisco D.A. who quit and moved back to L.A to run […]

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The Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Not Embracing “Reform” of Prop 13

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)

Democratic presidential candidates keep saying they are endorsing “reform” of Prop 13. But what these eight candidates are really endorsing is Prop 13. Someone ought to tell them the truth, because backers of the split roll initiative haven’t. They are touting the latest version of their initiative to lift some of the Prop 13 limits […]

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California Coast Needs an Irish Wake

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)

Peace out, Pacifica.  Don’t despair, Del Mar.  Never stress, Newport Beach. Yes, sea levels are rising. Yes, California’s coastline is eroding and changing. And we are going to lose beloved beaches, bluffs, and homes.  But we must not let our responses to sea-level rise become dominated by fear, division, and local politics, which will produce […]

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“F– the POA” Is a Slogan With 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)

After Chesa Boudin’s surprise victory in the San Francisco district attorney’s race, a prominent supporter of Boudin, Supervisor Sandra Brewer, shouted “F— the POA!” at an election party. The chant was directed at San Francisco’s Police Officers Association, the powerful police union, which spent big money against Boudin.  The chant occasioned criticism—about being a sore […]

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