On Housing, California Reaches for a Formula, Not a Solution

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 an iron-clad rule of California governance: why bother to solve a problem when you can just create a formula to make it more complicated. That approach to a big problem—those of renting in our era of high housing costs—is now being advanced in the state legislature. AB 1482, a compromise bill that now seems […]

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Why California Should Look to Little LaVerne

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)

Officials in La Verne, a small city of 32,000 in east Los Angeles County, don’t like to be first in launching new policies. And the city didn’t set out to make itself a proving ground for the best new tool California communities may have to transform themselves. But La Verne is about to become a […]

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Not Learning the Lessons of Measure EE’s Defeat

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)

A parcel tax measure for the L.A. Unified School District went down to defeat—an ugly defeat, not even achieving a majority—in a recent special election. But the measure’s biggest backers are responding in ways that show they haven’t learned their lesson. Instead of taking stock of the campaign’s many mistakes, they are suggesting they were […]

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The Context that SB 50 Supporters Are Missing

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)

Why? Why? Why? Oh, why did SB 50 get killed? The strangling of the big housing bill in committee has occasioned an orgy of blame, aimed at specific politicians or hypocritical progressives or suburban homeowners. But the blame game isn’t helpful, or really even fair. Local governments killed this thing. And while I think they […]

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CA finally Picks the President

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)

Elizabeth Warren, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, gets on her knees to pick spinach while discussing single-payer healthcare with farmworkers in the Salinas Valley. Beto O’Rourke, in a wetsuit with his campaign logo, tries to stand on a surfboard in the waves off La Jolla, but falls face first into the water. Joe Biden dons a […]

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The Trouble With Measure EE

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’s schools are woefully underfunded. Taxes on property should be higher. So why am I rooting against Measure EE, the L.A. Unified School District measure on the June 4 special election ballot? Because process matters when it comes to democracy. And L.A. Unified flunked the basics of process on this measure, even when it didn’t […]

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The Joy of Watching a City Embrace 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)

California is an old and cynical direct democracy. We do little to make the process fairer, more inclusive or more democratic. Our machinations around initiative and referendum are almost always about winning some political advantage. That’s why I found it so refreshing to visit Mexico City recently and get a firsthand glimpse at the establishment […]

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A Slow Motion Tax Reform?

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)

Are Gov. Newsom and the Democrats pursuing a tax reform without actually declaring it? Conventional wisdom is that a big tax reform is impossible politically. It’s just too big a target for too many interests. Gov. Brown seem well positioned to pursue such a reform, but openly admitted that it was too heavy a lift […]

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California’s Greatest and Neediest Urban Park

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)

If I had a free Sunday to spend anywhere in California, I’d head for Balboa Park in San Diego. The Golden State has grand urban parks, from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to L.A.’s Griffith Park to Chico’s lesser-known Bidwell Park. But no public space here offers as many different experiences with as much sunny […]

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Turn SB 50 Into a Ballot Initiative

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)

Too many ideas for laws and constitutional amendments go to the ballot as initiatives directly, without stopping to pause at the legislature, or to get real scrutiny or debate. Sometimes these ideas are trivial, and only matter to a small number of Californians. That’s why I often rail against so many ballot measures—they don’t deserve […]

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