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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 …

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Why Nevada Should Get Hitched—to California

By | April 13, 2017

Dearest Nevada,
Marry me.
My proposal may seem sudden, but ours shouldn’t be one of those late-night quickie weddings at a chapel off the Strip.
I, California, want a real grown-up marriage with you, Nevada. We both have reputations for being fun and youthful and wild, but who are we kidding? We’re both mature states that entered the Union in the mid-19th century.
And look how much we …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

It’s Time to Get on Board with Golden Gate Bridge Train Transit

By | April 6, 2017

If California is as serious about public transit as its urban leaders claim, why isn’t there a commuter rail service running over the Golden Gate Bridge?
There’s no good reason why our state’s iconic span must devote all six of its lanes to cars. For more than 50 years, engineering studies have shown that the bridge could accommodate trains.
And now would be the perfect time to …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Stop Blaming California for Donald Trump

By | March 30, 2017

Is California to blame for Donald Trump?
That may seem a preposterous question to ask of a state that voted so decisively against the new American president that it was responsible, all by itself, for his loss of the popular vote. It seems even stranger given California’s near-total resistance to Trump’s presidency, and the way our state embodies so many of the good things—diversity, immigration, …

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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, 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 …

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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, …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

What La La Land and an Acclaimed Satire Reveal About California’s Dark Heart

By | January 12, 2017

The brilliant new film musical La La Land is being celebrated as a love letter to Los Angeles. But the darker heart of the movie lies in a brief and devastating critique of Southern California, delivered by the jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling.
“That’s L.A.,” he tells his lover, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone. “They worship everything and they value nothing.”
There has been …

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