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Small and Speedy, Gonzales Is a City on the Move

By | September 18, 2017

Here’s a nasty bit of conventional wisdom: California’s small, rural places are supposedly desperate and doomed, with few economic prospects in an era when state policy favors the urban coastal mega-regions with high-paying jobs and reputations for world-class innovation.
But if that’s true, how do you explain Gonzales?
The small city of just 9,000 sits in the heart of the poor and agricultural Salinas Valley, a region …

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Let’s Make a Deal to Keep Immigrant Families Together

By | September 11, 2017

To: Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Attorney General Jeff Sessions
From: The Golden (and Still Sovereign!) State
Re: An alternative to your mass deportation of Californians
This is a legal proposal, but I must start with the following stipulation.
You are monsters.
You are engaged in deportation of undocumented Californians, including many who are neither criminals nor threats to public safety, and are crucial …

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In California, Pro Football Is for Losers

By | September 5, 2017

No one can know for sure whether any of California’s four National Football League teams—the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers—will emerge as big winners in the new season.
But we already know who the losers will be: California cities foolish enough to host NFL teams.
In the rest of America, major cities try to attract the NFL by building costly new stadiums, because they see football franchises …

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Connect the World? The Bay Area Can’t Even Connect Its Trains

By | August 28, 2017

The northern terminus of SMART, the new light rail system officially opening this weekend in the North Bay, is the Sonoma County Airport Station in Santa Rosa. But after my 8-year-old son and I disembarked from an Alaska Airlines flight, we learned that the airport is more than a mile away from the train.
We didn’t know how to bridge this transportation gap. My son wasn’t …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

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 …

Connecting California, Featured, Joe Mathews »

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 …