2 skyscrapers & the California imagination

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 a tale of two new skyscrapers—and of two cities that have more in common than they care to admit. The Wilshire Grand Center towers 73 stories and 1,100 feet over downtown Los Angeles, making it the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. A project of the conglomerate that owns Korean Air Lines, […]

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Congress Is Making a Case for a National Referendum

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 major tax bill is now going forward in Congress, but it is not really being studied or debated, as you might expect if the United States were the democracy it claims to be. There are no hearings on the bill. No testimony from experts. Just a lot of drafting and maneuvering behind the scenes. […]

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How to Impeach a 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)


How do you impeach a president? South Korea knows how. I recently visited Seoul to attend a conference put on by the Korea Democracy Foundation. The focus was mostly on direct and participatory democracy — the use of initiatives, referenda and deliberative processes – by citizens to make decisions between elections. But a powerful keynote […]

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Hollywood’s Predators Are State Subsidized

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)


Who enabled Hollywood’s sexual harassers and predators? There are many answers to that question in the ongoing debate about power, sex and abuse, but let’s not forget one group of people who have backed the predators. The taxpayers of California. The state has long backed TV and movie production with tax credits. Among the tax-subsidized […]

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Can California adopt Korea’s nuclear cool?

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)


Can Californians learn to be as cool as Koreans in the face of nuclear annihilation? Visiting Seoul last week, I asked people how they stay sane while living within range of North Korea’s weapons. After all, Kim Jong Un’s capital, Pyongyang, is just 120 miles from Seoul—the same meager distance protecting San Diego from Los […]

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I Can’t Review Arnie Steinberg’s Book

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)


Arnold L. Steinberg has written a book, called Whiplash! From JFK to Donald Trump-A Political Odyssey. I agreed to review it for Fox &Hounds three months ago. But I can’t. The problem is not that the book is long – it’s more than 600 pages. And it’s not boring—to the contrary, it’s overstuffed with analysis, […]

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Let’s Send Both DiFi and KDL to Washington

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 so underrepresented in Washington D.C. that it seems a shame to have to choose only one of the two major candidates for U.S. Senate. In today’s battle between California and the Trump administration, we need every able politician we got there. And the race has produced two candidates – the 25-year incumbent Dianne […]

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Water Data Is For Fighting

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 you thought California’s famously bitter water wars were hard-fought, just wait until you see our water data wars. Digital tools have expanded the ability of governments, companies and nonprofits to measure the uses of California water in detail, and thus build more water-efficient products, make water conservation a way of life, and replace expensive […]

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One Way DiFI Can Show That Age Doesn’t Matter

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)


“Age doesn’t matter” is the all-but-official re-election slogan of Dianne Feinstein. Of course, that’s self-serving when you’re in your ninth decade. But, Senator, if you want to show people you really mean what you say about age, there’s a smart way to show it: Give 16 year olds the right to vote. In California, that […]

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CTA’s Endorsement of Newsom Deserves Scrutiny

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 biggest news of the governor’s race came and went with relatively little notice: The California Teachers Association endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor. CTA is the most powerful and sophisticated interest group in state politics. And with their endorsement, Newsom is the all-but-official governor in waiting. For the past 20 years, getting elected governor in […]

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