Enough Dead to Fill Forest Lawn

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’re having a hard time processing the scale of death produced by the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a California alternative for wrapping your mind around the carnage:  Visit the largest, prettiest cemetery you can find. I recommend the original Forest Lawn, in Glendale, the most Californian of cemeteries. I recently walked the 290  acres of […]

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Forgive, But Don’t Forget, L’Affaire French Laundry

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 pandemic has made us so crazy that the governor of California is now apologizing for patronizing a California business.  Of course, there is more to le scandalette involving Gov. Newsom’s decision to attend a 50th birthday party (Jason Kinney, you’re old!) at the French Laundry, a famous restaurant in Yountville, in Napa County. But […]

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We Are All Unincorporated Now

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)

We are all unincorporated now. Unincorporated communities—which don’t have their own municipal governments—live at the mercies of their counties, who may or may not provide vital services. The pandemic is giving all Californians a taste of unincorporated life, since our county governments determine whether we can shop, play in a park, or send our kids […]

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Gavin, Please Send Me to the Senate

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)

Dear Governor Newsom, You’re overwhelmed with texts and calls, and I understand why. With the election of Kamala Harris as vice president, you must appoint someone to fill the final two years of her United States Senate term. Everyone in politics wants this gig, and that’s a lot of pressure. So let me take this […]

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If You “Take Out California”

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 may not need to declare independence from the Union. Leading Republicans may just kick us out. They’re already claiming we’re not real Americans, whose voting choices don’t matter. The latest person to remove California from the U.S. is Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, which I’m told is a smaller state somewhere in the […]

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Don’t Declare Victory on Election Night If You’re Running Against Kamala

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)

Congratulations to the vice president-elect from California, our Senator Kamala Harris. And a pro tip for anyone who might run against her in any future race: Be careful about declaring victory, especially on election night. It’s now happened twice in her political career. Back in 2010, L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley declared victory on election […]

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Why Californians Should Fear San Diego’s Haunted Tower

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)

As Californians explore what to do with thousands of buildings made empty by the pandemic, let’s avoid being as scared and stupid as San Diego. America’s Finest City has seen its civic-minded brains eaten not by zombies, but by a long-empty downtown office building. Indeed, San Diegans are so frighteningly obsessed with 101 Ash Street […]

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Voting in LA Was Fun

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 hard to understand the voter suppression in so many swing states, and all those long lines. Don’t they know that voting is supposed to be fast and fun? It sure was fun in California this time. I got a mail ballot like everyone else, but decided to vote in person because there were so […]

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Five Totally Out-of-the-Box Picks to Replace Kamala in the Senate

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 Kamala Harris becomes vice president and Gov. Gavin Newsom has to fill her seat in the Senate, the conventional wisdom is that he will pick a statewide elected official—probably Secretary of State Alex Padilla or Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Either of those men would allow Newsom to make history, by appointing a Latino, and […]

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What Our Split Roll Obsession Has Cost Us

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)

Prop 15 isn’t new. It’s one of the oldest ideas in modern California politics. And the length of our pursuit of this small reform has cost us a lot, in time and opportunity. In fact, Democrats and spending lobbies have been pursuing a split roll since the 1980s. In 1992, a ballot initiative to split […]

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