Put the Legislature in an NBA-Style Bubble

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 Capitol and the blocks around it often feel like a bubble, especially for those of us who visit from that faraway place called the Rest of California.  Now it’s time to make it a real bubble, so the legislature can do its work. The California legislature finished its session without doing essential business on […]

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Would The End of Trump Mean the End of Newsom?

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 defeat of Donald Trump would be a victory for the country, for democracy, and for the many victims of his presidency. But it could be a disaster for Gavin Newsom.  President Trump has long offered a perverse sort of protection for Newsom, and other prominent Democrats in our state. Californians, especially Democratic Californians, might […]

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Meditating on Prop 13 With the Tibetan Buddhists in Howard Jarvis’ House

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)

Want to stop worrying so much about the future of California? Go and say a prayer at Howard Jarvis’ house. No historic plaques mark the five-bedroom home at 515 N. Crescent Heights Boulevard, which sits between West Hollywood and L.A.’s Miracle Mile. But this is where the famed anti-tax activist Jarvis lived, held meetings with […]

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Why California City Councils Should Be Bigger

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)

Want a stronger California city? Don’t make your mayor more powerful. Make your city council bigger.  Mayors Sam Liccardo of San Jose and Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento are seeking to become “strong mayors”—with broad executive authority over department heads, budgets and council legislation.    “Strong mayors” are rare in California. More typically, California cities are run […]

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Don’t Trust Kamala, Trust the California that Made Her

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)

Kamala will be fine. She’s a Californian. Lord knows, you shouldn’t trust Kamala Harris—she is both a politician and a lawyer, two professions that have earned your skepticism. But you should trust the Golden State that made her—as a classroom for learning how to navigate the endless complications of 21st century leadership. Is there any […]

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Can L.A. Escape the Cage of Chinatown?

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 mother, seeking to protect her daughter and herself, fires a gunshot toward her abusive father, and then flees by car. Los Angeles police, on the scene but in no danger, open fire on the departing vehicle, killing the mother. Her unnecessary death is more than a tragedy, or police misconduct. It’s an emblem of […]

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Ditch School, California, and Refocus Education on COVID

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)

Let’s stop pretending that California will educate its children this fall—and instead transfer our educational resources into COVID-19 control. As the pandemic worsens, California parents, teachers, and students have been distracted by a bitter war over how to reopen education. But as a combatant—I’m father to three public-school students—I’ve learned that this war can’t be […]

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California Traffic Misses You

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)

By CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC, as told to JOE MATHEWS Admit it. You miss me, don’t you? I know you’ve never liked me, and for that I’ve never blamed you. You Californians like to live your lives fast, and I’m all about slowing you down. So I try not to take it personally that you complain about […]

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South LA for Vice 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)

Can South Los Angeles teach America how to lead? That’s the promising question behind the news that Karen Bass is a top contender to be the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Bass is best known as a consensus-building and uncommonly kind politician who has served South L.A. in the State Assembly and in Congress over the past […]

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Cut Newsom from “Newsom at Noon”

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, Your lunchtime COVID-19 briefings—“Newsom at Noon”—are must-see TV.  No California governor has ever had such a regular platform, and you’ve demonstrated a memory, policy knowledge, and verbal facility (especially with long words) that are almost superhuman. You might be California’s greatest  polysyllabic performance since Julie Andrews recorded “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” for Disney’s Mary Poppins.  Your […]

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