An Open Letter Offering Scholarship to Cal Student Isabella Chow

Dear Ms. Chow, It was only a few days ago that a good friend sent me a link to a San Francisco Chronicle piece describing your plight as a UC-Berkeley student, and elected senator in the school’s student government. I understand your challenges began in November, so I apologize for the delayed offer. It appears […]

California: Where Bernienomics Goes to Die

The presence of Bernie Sanders in television commercials this fall in support of a California ballot initiative on drug pricing demonstrates the ongoing appeal the Vermont senator has for the Golden State’s many liberal voters, despite his ill-fated presidential campaign. It would be hard to imagine two states more different than Vermont and California, but, […]

Two Books and the End of the CA GOP

Sometimes the impact of a book is not just what’s in the book, but when you read it. Such was my experience reading Jim Lacy’s edited volume, Taxifornia 2016, while I finished Arthur Brook’s The Conservative Heart. Taken together, the books can constitute the head and heart of a California reform movement for the 21st […]

DMV: Department of Motor…Voting?        

The recent news out of Pennsylvania that 289 Adarians are registered to vote has the state’s elections officials red-faced. Unless you’re a sci-fi fan, you can be forgiven for not knowing that Adarians are main characters in a series of books related to the “Star Wars” franchise: a “species of bipedal humanoids from the planet Adari.” Adarians […]

An Outsider’s Guide to Running—and Losing—a California Election

Though Ted White’s classic, The Making of the President, is far better known, the best book I’ve read about what it’s like to run for political office is To Be a Politician by Stimson Bullitt. In the 1950s, Bullitt ran twice as a Democratic Congressional candidate in his home district of Seattle—and lost both times. “Men and women […]

A Party for Citizens and Customers

A recent rainy morning in San Carlos, I’m back to doing something I love: training public sector officials (on this day, 25 of them) in how to better engage their residents in policy-making. While losing a statewide political campaign is uniquely painful, I was most gratified to see that a set of policy issues I’ve […]

SB 1253 and Our Next Secretary of State

While responses to SB 1253 (“Ballot Initiative Transparency Act”) range from the disappointed to the ecstatic and everywhere in the middle, what can’t be disputed is this: our next Secretary of State is going to be pretty busy for at least the next four years. Along with the multiple challenges currently miring the office – […]

“For the Privilege of Doing Business in California…”

It’s one of those phrases that sticks in your head because it uniquely and simply describes a concept whose time has come. A friend who is the Chief Information Officer for a Bay Area municipality recently shared with me his department’s goal: whenever a resident engages with the City – whether it’s to obtain a […]

On SoS Field Poll: Maybe It’s Not (Just) About Parties

In my esteemed colleague Joe Mathews’ recent piece in these (web) pages, he offers this reason for my current 13-point lead in the statewide Field Poll on the Secretary of State race: “Those surveys reflect one fact: Peterson is a Republican.” While I would like to think these results are all due to my offering […]