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Take Me Out to the California League

By | August 21, 2017

Take me out to the ballgame this summer? Sure, as long as you’re taking me to San Jose or Visalia or Lake Elsinore.
Yep, I know those cities don’t have major league teams—that’s the point. In California these days, Major League Baseball is miserable. But the California League—our very own minor league—is a little-known jewel, binding together our most challenged cities and regions with wholesome and …

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In San Juan Bautista, Site of a Famous Mission and a Hitchcock Masterpiece, It’s Apocalypse—Now

By | August 14, 2017

If the apocalypse comes to California, I’ll be ready. After all, I’ve been to San Juan Bautista, which has centuries of experience with the ending of worlds.
I visited the San Benito County town again this summer, when Armageddon seems closer than ever. North Korean missiles may now be able to reach California. The president of the United States has the nuclear codes and no impulse …

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To Make California a True Democracy, Give Non-Citizens the Right to Vote

By | August 10, 2017

President Trump claims that California allowed millions of non-citizens to cast ballots in the 2016 elections. This allegation, while totally bogus, has put California and its political leaders on the defensive. They are forced to respond as Trump and his allies use the lie to justify a new federal commission devoted to making it harder for all Americans to vote.
Californians should go on offense—by embracing …

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Will California’s Housing Shortage Epidemic Infect the Rest of the West?

By | July 31, 2017

Sorry, Utah.
And apologies to the rest of the West. California’s epidemic shortage of housing hasn’t just sickened our own state—by driving up prices, forcing residents into rentals and onto the street, and putting a $140 billion annual drag on the Golden State’s economy. The disease is spreading to our neighbors, too.
Today, every significant city in the Western United States is experiencing a minor league …

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L.A.’s Revelatory Light Rail for Nerds

By | July 17, 2017

My train line is smarter than your train line.
I’m a regular rider of “The Brain Train,” officially known as the Gold Line on the L.A. Metro system’s. The Gold Line is light rail running from the eastern San Gabriel Valley into downtown L.A. and then back out again to East L.A. Along the way, it connects enough smart institutions—from innovative community colleges, to a …

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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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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 …

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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 …