Connecting California »

Why California’s Not Built to Become Its Own Nation

By | November 24, 2016

California may have the size and economy and independent spirit of a good-sized country. But California is not a nation. Which is precisely why it would be so self-destructive to seek to become one.
Yes, it’s understandable why, with the election of an evil white supremacist swindler as president of the United States, the idea of California going off on its own suddenly has such great …

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Can a Sin Tax on Mindless Media Save Journalism?

By | November 17, 2016

As long as Silicon Valley and its futuristic technologies dominate our politics, we’re doomed to be stuck in the past.
The big story of the poisonous 2016 elections was how new digital media tools ended up crowding out two big topics from our conversation: the present and the future.
This phenomenon went way beyond the controversy about “fake news” on Facebook; the problem wasn’t just media quality—but …

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Why We All Need to Leave the Country After This Election

By | November 10, 2016

Now that the election is over, are you leaving the country? If not, you ought to reconsider.
I’m not kidding. Yes, a handful of our fellow Californians—prominent citizens from Samuel L. Jackson and Bryan Cranston to Miley Cyrus and Barbra Streisand—proclaimed themselves so disgusted with the sorry state of American democracy that they pledged to depart the United States after the November elections. And yes, none …

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What California Can Learn From Stockton’s Debt

By | November 3, 2016

Here’s a new maxim for Californians to live by, courtesy of this election: Don’t dismiss apocalyptic warnings from Stockton.
If you’re a Californian with a television or a mailbox, you’re encountering a barrage of ill-advised Stockton dismissals. Specifically, Gov. Jerry Brown, labor unions, and Sacramento building and infrastructure lobbies are trying to defeat a November ballot initiative—Prop 53, which would require voter approval for state revenue …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Why California Will Need Its Own Weed Cartel

By | October 27, 2016

If California is going to transition successfully to full legalization of cannabis, our state is going to need its own cartel.
For the record (and to reassure my friends in federal law enforcement), I am not smoking anything. And I am not suggesting that California encourage a criminal syndicate like the Zetas or the Sinaloa Cartel for weed. The California cartel actually would need to be …

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Californians Want More From Our Neighborhoods

By | October 20, 2016

California is a state of large things: A 1,100-mile coastline and giant mountain ranges and big roads, bigger cities, and the biggest vistas. In such a sprawling place, with so much disconnection, how much could people care about their own little neighborhoods?
Answer: An awful lot.
This is a state of neighborhoods. And Californians are very devoted to their own. We identify ourselves as residents of …

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California Is Voting On Whether to Catch Up With a Beach City’s Ban on Single-Use Bags

By | October 13, 2016

Next month, California might almost catch up with Carpinteria.
The small beach town in Santa Barbara County, population 13,500, is rarely cited as a leader in anything. But when it comes to the California cause of eliminating single-use bags—a cause responsible for two different state measures on the November ballot—Carpinteria is our model city.
Carpinteria boasts California’s broadest ban on single-use bags. It doesn’t just bar getting …

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California’s New Education Architecture Is Already Failing

By | October 6, 2016

Is California abandoning its poorest students?
That question would be dismissed as absurd by our state’s education leaders, especially Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education. For years, they have been building a new educational architecture they say will do more for the poorest kids in the poorest schools.
But as the many elements of this architecture are put in place slowly—and I do …

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Why More Californians Should Retire Like Dodgers Announcer Vin Scully

By | September 29, 2016

If only more Californians could retire like Vin.
Vin Scully, that is. The Hall of Fame announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers will call his last game this Sunday, October 2, a month shy of his 89th birthday. That retirement has touched off a national celebration of Scully’s announcing mastery, his storytelling methods, and his many contributions to baseball through 67 years with the Dodgers. …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

California’s Lottery Approach to Public Education Still Privileges the Privileged

By | September 15, 2016

Californians may think we have a system of public education. But what we really have is a state system for rationing public education.
I got a personal taste of this in the spring, when I took my five-year-old son to our local school district offices to determine his educational future. This being California, the determination was made not by a test of his abilities or …