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The Arts Can Do for California What Politics and Big Business Can’t

By | June 23, 2017

Can the arts save California?
On every public policy challenge other than climate change regulations, the state seems stuck. We can’t transform our underfunded and underperforming education system to meet the needs of our diverse people, expand our universities to prepare for future economic requirements, or build nearly enough affordable housing. Silicon Valley, which still bills itself as savior of California and the world, has revealed …

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Why San Diego and The Donald Are On a Collision Course

By | June 19, 2017

If you wish to inspect the frontlines of the conflict between Donald Trump and California, head for San Diego.
Yes, it’s true that the Golden State’s fight against the president has so far taken place in the courts and in cyberspace. And, sure, challenging The Donald’s legitimacy is not a mere local pastime but an all-consuming statewide prizefight. But as a matter of geography, culture and …

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Is A/B Product Testing Turning Us into Silicon Valley’s Lab Rats?

By | June 12, 2017

Test me all night, baby.
No, really. Sign me up to be the subject of A/B testing. I’d even be willing to sign a blanket consent form, right now, so that all of Silicon Valley’s biggest brains can test me for the purpose of improving the human future.
Everybody’s doing it. In fact, you’ve likely been A/B tested without your knowledge if you’ve ever used …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

What California Festivals Need–More Garlic, Less Gaga

By | June 5, 2017

You heard it here first: The next bubble to burst in California, perhaps even before Silicon Valley and real estate, just might be the festival bubble.
The festival economy is growing so fast that it runs the risk of overheating. Even after expanding from one weekend to two in 2012, and increasing capacity this past year from 99,000 to 125,000, the Coachella Arts and …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

L.A.’s New State Historic Park Is Both a Miracle and a Missed Opportunity

By | May 30, 2017

Riddle: When is a miracle also bound to be a disappointment?
Answer: When the miracle is a project of the state of California.
A case in point is the recent opening of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, an event that contains many miracles.
Miracle one: It’s a large (32 acres) park—with broad grassy fields large enough to fly a kite or hold a big concert, …

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California’s Real Budgetary Sin—We Spend Too Little, Not Too Much

By | May 22, 2017

We have reached the high holy days of California’s budget season, as our governor and legislative leaders decide which programs will gain new life, and which will be sacrificed. And so our state government’s ministers have begun their ritual sermons on the dangers of overspending.
They are preaching nonsense. California’s real problem is underspending.
Go ahead and dismiss my claim as blasphemy. After so many years of …

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With Local Governments Crying “NIMBY,” Aggressive State Meddling Could Fix California’s Housing Crisis

By | May 15, 2017

All the debate about how to address California’s massive housing shortage is obscuring the big picture: a state takeover of local housing policy has begun.
That’s the real import of the more than 100 bills that have been introduced in the legislature to change housing policy in various ways. None of the current proposals is up to the task of getting the state to build sufficient …

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The Verdict Is in—California’s Dickensian Courts Are Failing Us

By | May 8, 2017

Dig deep enough into any of California’s biggest problems, and you’ll eventually hit upon a common villain: our court system.
California’s housing shortage, its poverty, its poor business climate, and its failing infrastructure all are explained in no small part by the failure of our underfunded, delay-prone courts to provide anything resembling timely justice. But in public narratives of what’s wrong with the state, we …

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Go Ahead and Blame Berkeley. Everyone Else Does.

By | May 1, 2017

Thank you, Berkeley.
Recent headlines should remind Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you.
You—our most distinguished public university and all the people, institutions, and neighborhoods surrounding it—do far more than research and educate. You serve the vital social purpose of being a convenient punching bag for angry people of all manner of ideological preoccupations.
The right and …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

California’s Idea of a Full School Day Doesn’t Make the Grade

By | April 24, 2017

On many mornings, I think my state senator has the best policy idea in California.
The rest of the time, I think he’s missing the point.
The idea involves the sleep of schoolkids, and the state senator is Anthony Portantino, who represents me and nearly one million other residents of one of California’s nerdiest regions, the San Gabriel Valley.
Portantino has won plaudits for a bill that …