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My Hometown is Fawning Over President Obama—But the Feeling Isn’t Mutual

By | January 5, 2017

I recently learned that, in the second grade, I was part of presidential history.
Every morning during the 1980-1981 school year, I walked the five blocks between my family’s home in southwest Pasadena and Allendale Elementary School, where I was in Beverly Thomas’ class. Sometimes I went back in the evening to play in the Little League at Allendale Park, adjacent to school.
The round trip seemed …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

If the Golden State Is to Right Its Biggest Wrongs in the New Year, We’ll Have to Embrace Some Dirty Deals

By | December 29, 2016

Grab a glass of champagne. Then bend your mind around this New Year’s resolution for Californians: In 2017, let’s become more tolerant of political corruption.
Yes, bigotry against political skullduggery is just about the last socially acceptable prejudice in our state. And while the idea of tolerating dirty deal-making may sound perverse or strange, so are the ways we make decisions in California. We rarely consider …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

The Golden State Should Be the Voice of Reason in the Conflict Between D.C. and Beijing

By | December 22, 2016

California is trapped—caught in the dangerous space between two menacingly authoritarian regimes that want to fight each other.
One regime is headquartered in Beijing, and the other is about to take power in Washington D.C. But when viewed from the Golden State, it’s striking how much they have in common.
Both are fervently nationalist, full of military men, and so bellicose they are spooking neighbors and …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Is California Losing Its Ability to Hablar Español?

By | December 15, 2016

How are Californians going to save Spanish?
Yes, I know that a call to preserve the Spanish language might seem ludicrous in a state whose very name comes from a Spanish romance novel. Nearly half of us are either from the Spanish-speaking world, or trace our heritage there. We constantly hear Spanish—in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and in our media; an estimated 38 percent of Californians …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

If California Won’t Build Housing on Land, Why Not “Seasteading”?

By | December 8, 2016

The devastating housing shortage in California keeps getting worse. Housing prices won’t stop rising. Why can’t we solve the problem?
Perhaps it’s because all of the proposed solutions—more construction, sprawling construction, denser construction, granny flats, affordable housing mandates, new forms of financing and exemptions from regulation—are built on the same flawed premise: that housing must exist solely on land.
And on land, California’s high costs, environmental regulation, …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Joni Mitchell Might Be Glad to Know That California Is Finally Fulfilling Her Eternal Christmas Wish and Embracing Its Rivers

By | December 1, 2016

California is finally embracing its rivers. But it may be a choking embrace.
We Californians have long celebrated our coastal splendor and toasted the height and beauty of our mountains. But our rivers? For most of us, they have been a mere utility, the plumbing that moved water around the state..
Today in the Golden State, its regions and its people are at long last taking …

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 …

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 …

Connecting California, Joe Mathews »

Civil War General William T. Sherman Had a California Past That Ties Our State Together

By | September 8, 2016

This month, as California celebrates Admission Day—a legal holiday in honor of our officially joining the United States on September 9, 1850—we should give ourselves an overdue present:
A founding story of our statehood starring someone we can be proud of, both as Californians and Americans.
Even after 166 uneasy years in the American empire, the state of California doesn’t have a pithy origin story it …

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Why I, Bigfoot, Am Running Scared in California

By | September 1, 2016

I’m so famous for keeping a low profile that some people doubt my existence. So I’m here to tell my fellow Californians that I’m proudly one of you.
I travel widely in California (Bigfoot sightings have been reported in every county of this state), and as I do, my fears have grown about our home state. My anxiety is not because of all the strange …

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