Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

How California’s Open Meetings Law Became a Gag Rule

By | March 23, 2017

The Ralph M. Brown Act, first approved in 1953, is celebrated for its supposed guarantees that we citizens have a voice in the decisions of all our local governments.
But today, it is little more than a gag rule.
Over the past six decades, the Brown Act—famous for its guarantee of a 72-hour notice for public meetings—has become a civic Frankenstein, threatening the very public participation it …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

Welcome to the Affluent Central Coast, California’s Child Poverty Capital

By | March 16, 2017

Californians used to envy residents of our beautiful, wine-and-wealth-drenched Central Coast. Now we have reason to pity them.
And not just because Nicole Kidman has thrown her star power into producing a TV series based on the premise that Monterey’s women might be murderers.
The past year has brought one calamity after another. Last summer’s Soberanes Fire burned a vast swath around Big Sur for 83 days, …

Connecting California, Headline »

The Olympic Movement Is Relentlessly Corrupt, so Why Should Southern California Host in 2024?

By | March 9, 2017

Los Angeles should drop its bid for the 2024 Olympics—before it gets chosen.
It’s true that Paris has long been the favorite to be awarded the games during an upcoming vote in September. The Paris bid has broad international support, the City of Light has come close to winning the games in recent bids, and sentiment is on its side. 2024 would be the 100th anniversary …

Connecting California »

The Tiny Town of Wasco, a Conduit for High-Speed Rail, Has a Lot to Offer

By | March 2, 2017

Dear Bay Area,
Welcome to Wasco.
You may never have heard of this small city of 25,000 in the San Joaquin Valley. You probably can’t pronounce it (it’s WAW-skoh).
But you and Wasco share a future.
You could be connected—at least temporarily—by the most expensive infrastructure project in state history.
Your Wasco connection is a byproduct of problems with high-speed rail’s plan for a San Francisco to Los …

Connecting California »

To Get Things Done in California, Listen More Than You Talk, Says the Most Effective Developer You’ve Never Heard Of

By | February 23, 2017

What do we do now, Nelson Rising?
I pose that question not just because this is a confusing and complicated era for California. And not just because no living Californian is better than Nelson Rising—a developer, lawyer, campaign manager, and civic leader from Los Angeles—at navigating our state’s complexities to create communities that endure.
“What do we do now?” is the question that concludes Rising’s one-and-only brush …

Connecting California »

California Must Discredit Trump Before Trump Discredits California

By | February 16, 2017

California is already on the defensive in its battle with Donald Trump. Our state needs an offense—now.
Trump’s first four weeks in office have made clear that hopes of California working with this president—in areas like infrastructure—are pure fantasy. Trump is already engaged in non-stop attacks against our state, as if all of California were a political opponent. His strategy is not merely to punish California; …

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Grow up, Sacramento! It’s Time to Step up to Civic Adulthood

By | February 9, 2017

Are you finally growing up, Sacramento?
I pose that question not to our state government but to the real Sacramento, by which I mean the Sacramento Capital Region. It’s a query that should be aimed at all of the Central Valley’s big urban areas. Are you ready for civic adulthood, Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Modesto?
The maturity of these cities is more than a regional question. The …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

The New California Ferrari Gets Almost Too Much Right About the Golden State

By | February 2, 2017

When I finally got the keys to California, I wondered how fast it would go. So, on the 210 freeway, I floored the accelerator, and within seconds, I was driving 100 miles per hour.
I immediately felt exhilaration—and fear. This speed was totally unfamiliar to someone who has spent his life driving beaten-up Toyotas. In California we like to think we can move as fast as …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

My Grandmother—the Dirty Harry of Pruning—Knew That Things Grow So Fast in California, You Always Have to Be Cutting Back

By | January 26, 2017

She left us only recently, and already San Mateo has gotten way too leafy.
As I drove through that fine Peninsula city in the Bay Area on the way to my grandmother’s memorial service earlier this month, the plants had returned to their old arrogance. Bushes off Hillsdale Boulevard were growing far bushier than they once dared. The trees along Alameda de las Pulgas flaunted branches …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

This Donald Trump Hasn’t Made Any Racist Statements or Told Any Lies—but I Still Don’t Know What to Do With Him

By | January 19, 2017

I have a confession to make: Donald Trump is imprisoned in my closet.
He’s been in there for months, and I haven’t dared to let him out, for fear that his presence might be discovered. What’s worse, now that he’s president I’ve come to realize that my treatment of Trump does not conform with the Geneva Convention. He’s spent all this time in a tiny, …

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