If you're a political junkie, Joe Mathews' book, ‘The People's Machine,’ will be catnip. If you're not a political junkie, beware: It could easily make you one. Peter Schrag, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Monday, October 31, 2011

Please Join Me Nov. 1 in Fresno for Free, Public Event

"Is California Too Big?" It's a serious question. At the core of the state's governance problems is the fact that our system doesn't fit a state of multiple major regions and 38 million.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fresno Art Museum, I'll be moderating a free, public panel discussion that looks at how the state might be redesigned (or even split) to fit our regions. The event goes for a little more than an hour -- and is followed by a cocktail reception where the drinks are free. It should be fun. Hope you'll join us.

And if you're not in Fresno, please tell your friends who do live in the area. The link for reserving a seat is: http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/upcoming.php?event_id=493

Monday, February 07, 2011

Video: The People's Machine on CSPAN After Words

Here's the link to my appearance on C-Span "After Words" for my previous work, The People's Machine.

Friday, December 03, 2010

WSJ Reviews California Crackup

The Wall Street Journal raves about my new book (with Mark Paul), California Crackup. Find out more about the book here.

Guest Hosting Talk Show, and Audio

Here's a link to the "Off the Presses" show on LA Talk Radio that I guest hosted on Wednesday. (You have to scroll down to find the audio--it's the Dec. 1 show).

Matt Kemp Could Learn From Mickey Mantle

At Zocalo Public Square, I review Jane Leavy's new book on Mickey Mantle -- a book that another Oklahoma-raised center fielder (the Dodgers' Matt Kemp) should read.

Look for more book reviews and essays from me at Zocalo, which is emerging as a leading on-line journal of ideas (in addition to its well-known public forums in California), beginning next year.

Follow Me on Twitter

@joemmathews (yes, there's an extra "m" there for my middle name).

Look for Me on NBC Stations and on Prop Zero

If you haven't yet checked out NBC's new California site, Prop Zero, please do. I'm lead blogger there. As part of my duties, you'll also catch me on NBC stations in LA, San Diego, and the Bay Area.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Please Join Me at the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, July 30-Aug. 4 in San Francisco

The 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy is a free, public event I'm organizing in San Francisco, July 30-Aug. 4. You can check out all the details and reserve a seat (again, free of charge) at www.2010globalforum.com

Sunday, June 20, 2010

California Crackup Now Available at Amazon

Amazon is now fulfilling orders for my new book, California Crackup. You can order it now at amazon, at UC Press, or at Barnes & Noble.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Events Round-up

Here's video of the Zocalo Public Square panel I moderated last month, "Zurich vs. LA: Which is the Most Democratic City?" And here's video of another Zocalo panel I led, "Would California Be Better Off As Its Own Country?"

Here's an account of my one-on-one Zocalo Public Square event with Assembly Speaker John Perez. And here's video of same.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My New Book, California Crackup, Is On Sale Now

Terrific news. The new book I co-authored with my New America colleague Mark Paul -- California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It -- is on sale now. The University of California Press and Barnes & Noble web sites are already filling orders and sending out the book.

You also may enjoy the book web site, with video and an active blog on how to fix California, right here.

2010 Global Forum News: Hotel Discount Expires June 14

If you're coming to the 2010 Global Forum and want to stay in a hotel, the good news is that we have negotiated discounts at two Union Square boutique hotels: Hotel Bijou ($99 a night) and the King George Hotel ($109 a night).

The bad news is that those discounts expire June 14 (that's Monday), so please book now or risk paying higher rates. For instructions on how to book on-line and get the discount, click here.

2010 Global Forum Program Released!

A draft program for the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy -- a free, public event July 30-Aug. 4 in San Francisco this summer -- has been released. The forum brings together scholars, journalists, activists, elected officials and citizens from all over the world -- 6 continents, 40 countries, and more than half the U.S. states will be represented -- to share data and compare practices for the use of initiative, referendum and participatory democracy tools.

Hope you'll join us. You can check out the draft program here. And you can register for the forum here.

Check Out Prop Zero

I'm lead blogger at a terrific new NBC web site on California government and politics -- with a particular emphasis on schools, budget and jobs -- called Prop Zero. Check it out here.

Reading Jerry Brown's Mail

I'm one of a handful of journalists who have been granted access to the papers of Jerry Brown's first governorship, which are kept at the University of Southern California. The story of the papers is well told in this piece in the LA Times (in which I'm quoted).

I'm just beginning to make my way through them, and am offering some early notes in various places.

Here's my column in the Daily Beast based on reading his personal correspondence from 1977-1979.

From the NBC blog Prop Zero, where I'm lead blogger, here is a post on letters he received after Prop 13 and another on a similar subject.

At Fox & Hounds Daily, here's a bit on a long ago reaction by John Burton (now California Democratic Party chairman) to Brown; and an old telegram from Brown's now campaign manager.

Palin and Fiorina

Sarah Palin gave Carly Fiorina's campaign a crucial boost in California. I explain how at The Daily Beast.

California: Ruined by Supermajorities?

Writing in the LA Times, I describe all the various supermajorities Californians have adopted -- and why they don't work.

Election Analysis on "Which Way, LA?"

Here's audio and Internet report on KCRW's post-election analysis, with yours truly and others.

NPR Piece on Top Two Primary

The victory of Prop 14, the measure to establish a "top two" primary system in California, is national news. I discuss it in this story via NPR.

I'm also quoted on initiative results here in the Ventura County Star (on Prop 16) and in the Wall Street Journal (on Prop 14).

Initiative Process and Global Forum on KQED

I appeared on KQED radio (the Northern California NPR) affiliate on May 27 with Bruno Kaufmann or the Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe to talk about the comparative merits of European and California direct democracy -- and to discuss the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which takes place in San Francisco July 30-Aug. 4 (Please join us).

You can hear audio of the appearance here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Please Join Me Tuesday Night in Los Angeles

Lakers-Suns game 4? Who cares? OK, I care, but it won't be nearly as exciting as the Zocalo Public Square event I'll be moderating tonight (Tuesday, May 25) at 7:30 p.m. at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown LA (111 N. Central). The event is free, as are the drinks at the post-event reception.

The question of the evening: "Which Is More Democratic -- Zurich or LA?" is a jumping off point to a discussion of a comparison between the Swiss system of direct democracy and the California version. We have a lot to learn from the Swiss; two Angeleno leaders -- former chamber of commerce chief George Kieffer and California Common Cause president Kathy Feng -- will join a conversation that includes two visitors from Europe: Swiss Parliament member Andreas Gross (who represents Zurich) and Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe president Bruno Kaufmann.

You can learn more and reserve a seat here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Monday May 24 Event in DC

In DC? Please join me at New America (1899 L St. NW, Suite 400) on Monday, May 24 for an event I'm organizing on the new European initiative process and what this experiment with transnational direct legislation may mean for the rest of us. Full event description follows:

The New America Foundation, The Swiss Confederation, and the American Consortium on EU Studies (ACES)
EU Center of Excellence Washington DC
Invite you to a
The Rise of Transnational Direct Democracy
The European Citizen’s Initiative and
What It Means for the World

WHEN: Monday May 24, 2010
TIME: 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
LOCATION: New America Foundation, 1899 L St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036

Direct democracy is a feature of state and local political life in more than 100 countries around the world. But the adoption of the new European constitution, called the Lisbon Treaty, may mark the beginning of a new era of modern direct democracy.

Lisbon establishes the European Citizen’s Initiative, the world’s first transnational direct democratic tool. The process is now being designed and implemented, with those involved looking at models in the U.S., in Switzerland and around the world.

The New America Foundation, the Swiss Confederation, and the American Consortium on EU Studies invite you to an event examining how this new citizen’s initiative process came to be, how it may work – and what the example of such an initiative may mean for Europe and for direct democracy in the U.S. and around the globe.

Among those expected to participate:
Nida Gelazis, Woodrow Wilson International Center (panel leader)
Andreas Gross, member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and the Swiss National Parliament
Bruno Kaufmann, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe, Europe’s global direct democracy think tank at the University of Marburg, Germany
Daniel Hamilton, executive director of the American Consortium on EU Studies, designated by the European Commission as the EU Center of Excellence Washington, DC
Desmond Dinan, author of the textbook, Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration and professor of public policy, George Mason University
Paul Jacob, founder of Citizens in Charge Foundation and leader of U.S. term limits movement, expert in American initiative and referendum

BACKGROUND: This panel event is a preview of the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, a free, public event being held in San Francisco July 31 through Aug. 4. More details at www.2010globalforum.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Governors Gone Wild

This week, Politico runs my piece explaining why so many of the nation's governors are facing scandal.

An Evening With Speaker John A. Perez

This Friday evening at 7:30 at MOCA Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, I'll be moderating a conversation with new California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez. It's a free public event put on by Zocalo Public Square. Please join us. You can make sure there's a seat for you by reserving one here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Would California Be Better Off As Its Own Country?

Please join me for a free, public event on Thursday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of just that question. I'll be moderating a panel with Democratic strategist (and former government official in both California and DC) Darry Sragow; author and Carey McWilliams biographer Peter Richardson; USC international relations expert Abe Lowenthal; and blogger extraordinaire Dave Dayen. The event is free (with a free reception with free drinks to follow). You can make sure you have a seat by reserving one here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

California Podcast

Here's a link to a New America podcast I did on California's troubles, Gov. Schwarzenegger, and the coming 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

On 'The Straight Line'

I was interviewed by my New America colleague Micah Weinberg for his program "The Straight Line." You can watch it here.

Recent Work and Upcoming Events

Here is my recent work along with a schedule of upcoming events, including the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in San Francisco this summer, July 31-Aug. 4. That's a free, public event, though I'm seeking sponsors who can help subsidize the travel costs of experts from around the world who otherwise could not afford to attend. More details -- including registration info -- at www.2010globalforum.com

I'm also pleased to announce that my new book, California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It, co-authored with Mark Paul, will be published this summer by the University of California Press. You can pre-order here, and if you're inclined to pre-order, I suggest you order a paperback--it's a paperback original, and the hardcover price is astronomical. If you do order, please be sure to type in the following source discount code -- 10M9071 -- so you save 20 percent.


March 25 in Sacramento. Speech to the California Budget Project conference, 9 a.m., Sacramento Convention Center. "Roadblocks and Reform: Is This The Year We 'Fix' California?" More info here.

April 16 in Davis, Calif. Speech with Mark Paul, noon at Boom/California Studies Association conference, "Failed State?", at UC Davis, The Lodge @ The Rec Pool. More details here.

April 22 in Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m., moderator, Zocalo Public Square event, "Would California Be Better Off As Its Own Country?" at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. More detailed to be announced.

May 25 in Los Angeles
, 7:30 p.m., moderator, Zocalo Public Square event, "Zurich vs. LA: Which is the World's Most Democratic City?" at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. More detais to be announced.

2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy
, San Francisco, UC Hastings College of the Law, Louis B. Mayer Student Center, 198 McAllister. All information is here.


Newspaper: "Taking the Ink Out of Signatures," in the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 14.

Newspaper: "The Hummer and Schwarzenegger: They Probably Won't Be Back," in the Washington Post, February 28. =

"Arnold's Third Term" in the Daily Beast, March 7, "Meg Whitman's Hiding Game," in the Daily Beast, Feb. 22. and "How Obama Lost Arnold," in the Daily Beast, Jan. 14.

Radio: On KPBS Radio (San Diego) "These Days," on Jan. 12, to talk about the Prop 8 trial. On KOGO-AM in San Diego, Feb. 12, 6:05 p.m. and Jan. 11, 7:05 p.m. (podcasts here). And on "Off the Presses with Brendan Huffman," Jan. 14.

Fox & Hounds Daily columns: "Is None of the Above the Smart Choice in Governor's Race?", Feb. 26. "Not the End of the Line for Con Con," Feb. 17. "Jerry, Meg and Confucius," Feb. 13. "My Interview With Whiskey and Bacon," Jan. 13. And other recent Fox & Hounds columns here.

Internet post: "California, Get Your Act Together," March 1, at CaliforniaChoices.org.

Blog: in Politico's The Arena.

Direct democracy blog:
Blockbuster Democracy at New America.

Quote: "How the Initiative Culture Broke California," in Time magazine. "Constitutional Convention Effort Near Collapse," in Ventura County Star, Feb. 10. "Brown's Tenure as Attorney General: Play it Safe," in the Associated Press. "Little Known Law is Blocking Path To Brown's Papers," in Contra Costa County times. "Another Long Budget Battle Expected," in Sacramento Bee, Jan. 19. "Feinstein, Boxer Lash Out at Governor's Demands," in San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 10.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Taking the Ink Out of Signatures

Here's my piece in the Los Angeles Times on the (electronic) signature that could change American politics forever.

Arnold and Hummer

Here's my piece from the Feb. 28 Washington Post on the demise of the Hummer brand, and how the current governor of California played a role in creating Hummer--and undermining it.

Radio Appearances

I was on KOGO-AM (San Diego)'s "Top Story With Chris Reed on Feb. 12 (at 6 p.m.) and Jan. 11 (at 7 p.m.). The podcasts are available here.

Here's a link to my interview on KPBS radio in San Diego on the Prop 8 trial.

I also appeared Jan. 14 on Brendan Huffman's LA Talk Radio show "Off the Presses with Brendan Huffman".

Recent Fox & Hounds Columns

Here are a few highlights from my January and February columns at Fox & Hounds Daily, a web site that covers California business and politics.

-"Is None of the Above the Smart Choice in Governor's Race?", Feb. 26.
-"Not the End of the Line for Con Con," Feb. 17.
-"Jerry, Meg and Confucius," Feb. 13.
"My Interview With Whiskey and Bacon," Jan. 13.

Other recent Fox & Hounds columns are here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Daily Beast Columns

Here are my two most recent columns in the Daily Beast.

-"Meg Whitman's Hiding Game," explaining how opponents of the California gubernatorial candidate, by criticizing so harshly for failing to debate and to answer journalists' questions, are actually helping her campaign.

-"How Obama Lost Arnold," explaining why Gov. Schwarzenegger, a supporter of health care reform, took a blast at the Senate version of the legislation in his January state of the state.

Recent Quotes

I've been quoted in various publications on various California-related subjects recently.

- in Time magazine on "How the Initiative Culture Broke California," March 1.
- "Constitutional Convention Effort Near Collapse," in Ventura County Star, Feb. 10.
-"Brown's Tenure as Attorney General: Play it Safe," in the Associated Press.
-"Little Known Law is Blocking Path To Brown's Papers," in Contra Costa County times.
-"Another Long Budget Battle Expected," in Sacramento Bee, Jan. 19.
-"Feinstein, Boxer Lash Out at Governor's Demands," in San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 10.

Get Your Act Together, California

CaliforniaChoices.org -- a new effort by Next Ten, Stanford's Lane Center, UC Berkeley's Institute for Government Studies, and Cal State Sacramento's California studies program to look for "pathways" to reform in California -- has launched. I made this short contribution to the new blog there.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Please Join Me; Feb. 22 in Sacramento for Free Lunch Event on Initiative Process

The New America event, "What Does California's Initiative Process Mean for the World?" takes place at noon at the CSAC Conference Center, 1020 11th Street, 2nd floor. It's free -- and lunch will be provided.

You can reserve yourself a seat here. And an event description follows. If you're not in Sacramento that day, please check out the web cast at newamerica.net

California is hardly the only place where voters, through initiative and referendum, make important decisions about government. As the state struggles with persistent budgetary and political problems, the world has been watching, with a combination of wonder and horror. What do direct democrats around the world think as they look at California? What might California learn from the world about its direct democratic system? And what might the rest of the world learn from us?

Please join one of California's most successful and experienced political strategists and one of the world's foremost experts on initiative and referendum as they exchange questions and answers during a special forum on how California's initiative process fits into the world.

Gale Kaufman of Kaufman Campaign Consultants, a veteran of some of the state's most important initiative campaigns who was once described by activist-actor Warren Beatty as "silver-tongued," will assess the past, present and future of California's initiative process. How has it changed? What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses?

Bruno Kaufmann, president of the Initiative & Referendum Europe and co-organizer of a major global forum on direct democracy this summer in San Francisco, will talk about California's role as inspiration - and albatross -- for a global expansion of direct democracy that has reached more than 100 countries.

Please join Kaufman, Kaufmann, and New America's own Joe Mathews, as moderator, for a wide-ranging conversation extending from the current debate over California constitutional reform to a new transnational initiative process being devised by the European Union to the growth of direct democracy in Asia, where Kaufmann recently completed a six-month tour.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Register Now for 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy

I'm volunteering my time to host and organize the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, July 31-Aug. 4 in San Francisco. We're inviting anyone with interest or experience in direct democracy -- journalists, academics, activists, elected officials, political pros -- to the event. It's free and open to the public, but we're asking people to pay their own travel and lodging costs. For those who can't afford those costs, we're raising money to help subsidize them.

The forms, including an invitation and registration, are available on a PDF attached right here:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Prop 8 Trial

I visited San Francisco this week and stopped in to watch some of the trial in a federal legal challenge to the constitutionality of Prop 8, the initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.

Here's a link to my appearance on KPBS, San Diego's NPR affiliate, to talk about the trial.

And here's my column in Fox & Hounds Daily on the same subject.

Politico Chat On Arnold and California

Here's a link to my live chat Tuesday at Politico's Arena on California's troubles and Gov. Schwarzenegger's efforts to get more money from Washington.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Blockbuster Democracy Has a New URL

My blog on direct democracy, called Blockbuster Democracy, has a new URL over at the New America web site. http://blockbusterdemocracy.newamerica.net/blogmain

Arnold vs. Sarah

My Daily Beast column on a media argument between Sarah Palin and Gov. Schwarzenegger drew huge traffic and hundreds of comments. Check it out here.

Californian of the Year, 2009

In this Fox & Hounds column, I nominated Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council, who has led the effort to call a constitutional convention in the state. Ultimately, Fox & Hounds went with State Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) as its consensus choice.

In other year end news, please check out "My 8 Worst Predictions of 2009."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Book: Global Citizens in Charge

I'm honored to have contributed a chapter to a new book, Global Citizens in Charge, which offers a survey of direct democracy around the world. It's published by the Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe and the Korea Democracy Foundation, both of which are big players in the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which I'm organizing for next summer (July 31- Aug. 4, 2010) in San Francisco.

You can download the book, for free, here. And you can learn more about the global forum here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

California Office Pool 2010

What will be the major news events in California next year? Reviving a tradition of the late William Safire, I offer a multiple-choice office pool for your 2010 predictions here at Fox & Hounds Daily.

On Radio Tonight, Talking Reapportionment

I'm scheduled to be on "Which Way, LA?" tonight with Warren Olney at 7 p.m., to talk about the formation of a new commission to draw legislative districts in California.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Has Recession Made California Voters Less Green?

Not exactly. But polling trends suggest voters are much more interested in economic repair than anything else -- and may be open to the political argument, advanced strongly by Meg Whitman (and less so by Carly Fiorina), that new regulations and legislation to fix climate change should be delayed until the economy has recovered.

I explain more in this piece in The Daily Beast.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Recent Fox & Hounds Columns

Here's the up-to-date list of my latest columns at Fox & Hounds Daily. Among the highlights:

-'The Default of Walters and Skelton' Dec. 7.
-Why the Media Should Back Anti-ACORN Activists, Dec. 3.
-The Mac Taylor Rule, Nov. 23.
-Maldonado and the Murphy Memo, Dec. 1
-Shocked, Shocked to Find Taping in the AG's Office, Nov. 16.

Open Those Records, Jerry Brown (and Former Governors)

In the process of researching a book about California government and a magazine profile of Jerry Brown, I learned an astonishing thing: state law permits former governors to control who has access to records of their governorship for 50 years or until death, whichever is later.

It's outrageous (and out of step with federal law, which gives ex-presidents control only for 12 years). How did this happen? I explain in this piece in the Los Angeles Times.

I also discussed the issue on Warren Olney's show, "Which Way, LA?" (About 8 minutes at the end of the show). And Reason magazine's web site picks up the issue.

Redistricting Commission Quiz

What disqualifies you from being on the commission to draw new legislative districts line in California? I explain here.

On the Radio

I appeared twice in November on Chris Reed's San Diego radio show, "Top Story," on KOGO 600 AM. You can find the audio here. (First appearance was on Nov. 12 at 6:35 p.m.; second appearance was on Nov. 27 at 7:05 p.m.).

Off the Presses

I was a guest on the debut of Brendan Huffman's new show, Off the Presses. You can listen here. (My appearance was Nov .12).

Reading the Secret Brown Transcripts

My quick reading of the Jerry Brown transcripts via Fox & Hounds Daily.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Me for Lt. Gov.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has to pick a lieutenant governor soon. The job is famous for having very few duties. In the LA Times, I report that I've found the perfect person for this no-show gig: me.

On Newsom

Why did San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom drop out? I explain briefly in this blog post and in more detail in this column in The Daily Beast.

Friday, October 23, 2009

KNBC Video

Better late than never. Here's a link to video of my appearance on KNBC 4 in Los Angeles back in July.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Initiative Reform Plan Pick Up

My LA Times piece offering four ideas for fixing California's system of initiative and referendum got some pick-up today in the Oregonian. And for anyone in San Diego, I'll be talking more about these ideas this evening on Chris Reed's show, "Top Story," on KOGO 600 AM.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Fix California's Direct Democracy

In this piece in today's LA Times, I outline four ways to fix California's direct democracy -- primarily by giving more power to legislators and to voters.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Free Polanski

In this week's Daily Beast column, I explain why, even though Roman Polanski deserves far greater punishment than he's received, California can't afford to extradite and imprison the 76-year-old film director.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

On Radio in SD

I talked about Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman and the 2010 governor's race in California last week on KOGO with Chris Reed. (Here's link to the podcasts. I was on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.)

Recent Internet Columns

My twice weekly Internet column at Fox & Hounds Daily, a site devoted to California politics and business, has been making some waves lately.

-on Meg Whitman's mishandling of her voting record and how that record is typical of Californians.
-on how Prop 13's limits on commercial property could be lifted if they were combined with a tax cut.
-I suggested that Bill Clinton run for governor of California.
-on why a California constitutional convention should be Athenian.
-On why ballot initiative campaign records should be public.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Problems of Ex-CEO Candidates

Writing at the Daily Beast, I explain why the odds are against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and former HP chief Carly Fiorina as they run for statewide office in California.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jerry Brown for Governor. Again.

My story on once and maybe future California Gov. Jerry Brown makes the cover of the October issue of the American Prospect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In re: Darrell Issa

I'm briefly quoted in the Mother Jones profile.

You're Invited to the 2010 Global Forum, Aug. 1-4, in San Francisco

I'm organizing the 2010 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which will be in San Francisco. The theme is: "Constitution Making and Direct Democracy," and we'll be examining and sharing perspectives on constitutional reform (and the role of initiative and referendum in it), from California to Iceland, Latin America to Hamburg. More information here. If you're interested in attending, providing financial support (so we can bring people from all over the world who couldn't otherwise afford the travel), please contact me directly at joe@joemathews.com

Blogging from Seoul

I've been blogging this week from the 2009 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Seoul, South Korea. You can follow me here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Own Birther Conspiracy Theory

Is there a conspiracy behind the birther movement (the folks who believe that Obama was born in Kenya even though he was born in Hawaii)? I think so, and outline my completely irresponsible, unsupported theory here.

Also at Fox & Hounds Daily last week, I asked why I, as a taxpayer and registered non-partisan voter, should have to foot the bill for partisan primaries.

Final Word on the Bradley Effect

In this piece in the new issue of the California Journal of Politics and Policy, I expand on an earlier piece in Politico to debunk the idea of a "Bradley effect" that hurts black candidates.

Does California Need a Lt. Gov?

The boys at Calbuzz and I agree -- at least on this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Printer's Son

What is real success? Real happiness?

Here's my piece from the September issue of Los Angeles magazine. It's about a college friend, Hamilton Chan; his career path; and the family business, Charlie Chan Printing. It's long, but worth the trip, I hope. It also benefited from the excellent editing touch of Rick Meyer.

Quoted on 'California's Identity Crisis'

In Poder 360.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Best Mother-in-Law Ever

My column in the Daily Beast this week describes the very close relationship between Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her son-in-law, the governor of California. And here's a Sacramento Bee story on the same subject that quotes me.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Throwing Bums Out, Locally

I'm quoted in this Los Angeles Times story on the rise of recalls in local communities nationwide.

Running from the Future

Here's a brief account of a panel I moderated last week on California budget cuts at the California Endowment in Los Angeles.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arnold's Next Role

My column this week in the Daily Beast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reading Arnold's Mind

After the budget, I try to read the governor's mind at Fox & Hounds Daily.

How Pot Could Eclipse Reform

What happens if an initiative to legalize and tax cannabis ends up on the same 2010 ballot as major California reform measures? I explain why in my new Daily Beast column.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview With The Can

Whenever California's leaders reach a budget compromise, there's talk about how they "kicked the can down the road." I catch up with The Can to see how he's feeling in this Fox & Hounds Daily column.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Briefly on the Budget

Here's a link to my brief appearance this morning on KPCC's "Air Talk" with Larry Mantle to discuss my concern that the budget agreement doesn't balance the budget.

Here also is my early reaction from Fox & Hounds Daily.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Sunday Show in LA

I'll be a guest Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on NBC 4's "News Conference" in Los Angeles. On the show, host Conan Nolan asks me about California's troubles, its taxes, and the possiblity of a constitutional convention.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Covering the Crisis On the Web

Here is a link to my most recent on-line columns in the California business and politics web site Fox & Hounds Daily. Among the subjects tackled are the budget, Prop 13, and the constitutional convention. Among the highlights.
-"The Language of Budget Deal Optimism." July 15.
-"The Strange Logic Behind Props 13 and 98,"July 14.
-"Federal Receivership of California Is Here, In Slow Motion," July 7.
-"It Takes a Fighter," July 6.
-"California's New Homegrown Majority," July 2.
-"The Importance of Governors and Their Schedules," June 30.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Democrats for a Flat Tax?

Not exactly. But in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, I report on how a new debate among California Democrats over whether the state's tax system is too progressive for the good of progressives.

What Do Armageddon Cuts Look Like?

Here's a report on the Zocalo Public Square panel I moderated last night on the human costs of state budget cuts. A link to video is here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

How Campaigns Crowd Out Governing

Here's my piece in the Daily Beast on how the Era of Hyper Politics leaves no time for governance.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What Did I Say?

I'm quoted in this piece on California's troubles in the German magazine Stern. (The interview was conducted in English--I don't speak more than a couple dozen words of German, and those are Austrian German at that.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pick Up

That's the old newspaper term for when your story gets picked up elsewhere. Today, I'm quoted in this Sacramento Bee story on IOUs (I take the pessimistic view that the state's leaders are incapable of negotiating a way out of the budget predicament).

And my recent story in the Washington Post got a mention Wednesday during the governor's press briefing in Sacramento. From the transcript:
QUESTION: This budget situation is getting a lot of attention nationally. People are saying that California is a laughing stock. Are you embarrassed for California?
GOVERNOR: I'm proud of California, even though we have our crisis. But no one should point fingers, because as you can see, there are more than 30 states right now that have their fiscal year starting today that also don’t have a budget. So let's not go and get carried away and just look at California, as we are the only state that cannot manage the budget.
And also, on top of it, people always say that the United States maybe has to bail out California and all of those things. And I think that Joe Mathews had a good story just recently in the paper where he talked about who is to say that the United States should bail us out? We are actually in much better shape than the United States, because if you look at us we have only 4 percent of debt of our GDP and look at what the United States has -- it is $14 trillion of GDP and we have $11 trillion debt. So that's a whole different ballgame. So we are in much better shape than the United States is.
So all we need to do is just really deal with reality and deal with those cuts, that are very painful for some people here in this building and then move on. And we will get the loans and then try to get out of this financial crisis. OK?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Was Pete Wilson Right?

Here is a description (with video) of my interview with former Gov. Pete Wilson Monday night at RAND, as part of a Zocalo Public Square event. The page also includes a pre-show interview with Wilson. Among the highlights were Wilson describing how he handled a budget predicament similar to the one we currently face, and Wilson answering "hell, yes," when I asked him if he'd like to run for governor again next year. (He's prevented from doing so by term limits).

What Does Armageddon Look Like?

Please join me July 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the California Endowment in Los Angeles (1000 N. Alameda--yes, that's right, Jake, it's Chinatown) for a panel discussion of the human costs of the big cuts to the state budgets for social services programs. It's free and open to the public (with a reception afterwards, with free drinks). You can reserve a seat here.

I discussed a similar subject Monday night on Warren Olney's KCRW show, "Which Way, LA?" A link to audio is here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Radio Update on California Budget

Here's a link to audio of my appearance on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" this morning. We discussed the California budget.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Credit Rating Agencies and California

On Warren Olney's show, "Which Way, LA?", I talked more about unfair federal attacks on California and question the credibility of rating agencies who have ranked the state's credit lower than that of many corporations. (My appearance is the third item on this list, below Iran and Mayor Villaraigosa, about 38 minutes into the show on the audio).

Monday, June 22, 2009

If California Catches Cold, Does Oregon Get Sick?

I was interviewed by Oregon Public Radio this morning on the question of how California's economic and budgetary troubles could hurt our neighbors to the north. A link to the audio is here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This Californian to Feds: Drop Dead

Writing in this Sunday's Washington Post (story already posted online here), I push back at national critics of California and its request for federal loan guarantees. Main lesson: California would be better off as its own country.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mate the Press

Writing in The Daily Beast, I tackle the relationship between LA's mayor and a local news anchor, and wonder whether the media should have done more with the story -- at least in the name of getting the attention of Angelenos, who simply refuse to pay much attention to politics.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Recent Fox & Hounds Daily Columns

Here are a few highlights from my twice weekly columns on the California business and politics site, Fox & Hounds Daily. A full list of my columns is here.

-So If We Take Your Terrorists.... I propose a way that President Obama and California can help each other.

-The State of California Owes Me Money. I appeal for legislative pay.

-Memo to California Reformers: Breathe. Some skepticism on the many plans to save the state, including a constitutional convention.

-Why Meg Is Right to Lay Low. On why the failure of the former eBay chief to ask questions is Ok for now.

-"Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall..." I ask whether California really is the most dysfunctional state.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Failing State?

Here's a link to my appearance on "Forum" on KQED (Northern California's NPR station) this morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can Gay Marriage Truly Win In California?

At the Daily Beast, I suggest that marriage equality can't be won in California, and that same-sex marriage advocates should focus their time and resources on other states.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quoted in Oregonian

On signature gathering reform in Oregon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In the NYT: How Federal Assistance to California Should Work

I don't care for the headline the New York Times put on my May 22 piece suggesting why federal loan guarantees for California might be a good idea -- and explaining how they should work. It's not a "bailout" I'm proposing. California shouldn't receive any cash from the feds. The only cash in the deal will be the cash California sends Washington as a fee for the guarantees.

Boiled down, here's what I'm arguing. California is a big place that can't govern itself. In the short term, it has cash flow problems. The federal government can help California manage those cash flow problems -- at virtually zero risk and at no cost. So the feds should step in and help -- but use that leverage to force California to adopt a plan to fix its structural budget problems. The feds could force California to submit a plan as a condition of issuing the guarantee--and lock the plan in by making it part of the guarantee (and by including financial penalties if the state doesn't make its budget targets in the plan).

Will the feds do this? Right now, they say no, as they should. California doesn't run out of cash until July, and by refusing to help now, the feds keep the pressure on the legislature and governor to address the problem first. But I think it's a safe bet California leaders won't be able to resolve this, and the feds will have to offer the guarantees this summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

USA Today Thinks I'm Smart

All evidence to the contrary. Here's a link.

On Point

California treasurer Bill Lockyer, LA Times columnist Sandy Banks and yours truly discuss California's troubles today on NPR's On Point.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To the Point

More on California's troubles: I joined historian Kevin Starr, political scientist Bruce Cain, and SF Chronicle political writer Carla Marinucci on NPR's "To the Point" with Warren Olney today. A link to audio is here.

The Curious Case of California's Stem Cell Board

In the Scientific American, I report on the benefits -- and perils -- of establishing a major scientific research enterprise -- California's stem cell agency and its board -- by ballot initiative.

The Armageddon Tease

In the Daily Beast, I examine how Schwarzenegger's rhetoric undermined him politically.

Let's Vote More

My proposal for statewide quarterly elections (in place of our current system) appears in today's Los Angeles Times.

Monday, May 18, 2009

NPR's Morning Edition

Here's a link to an NPR "Morning Edition" piece on California's budget predicament in which I'm quoted.

On KPBS, Talking Budget

Here's a link to podcast of my appearance on KPBS, San Diego's NPR affiliate, this morning.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Link to Audio of My KCRW Appearance

If you listen, my appearances on "Which Way, LA?" offer a sort of increasingly dark, increasingly bleak view of California's finances.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Angelenos, See Me Monday

Channel 35 is replaying my roundtable on the future of the Republican Party (to the extent there is one) on Monday, May 11 at 1:30 and 8 p.m.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

On Billing and Birth

My wife, Anna Wilde Mathews of the Wall Street Journal, writes about the birth of our son--and the bills.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Follow me on Twitter

I'm tweeting as joemmathews. Note the extra "m" for my middle name.

Sacramento Bee on Ballot Props

In the Sacramento Bee, Shane Goldmacher explains how ballot measures are drafted. One conclusion: measures are written to encourage wealthy interests to give to the campaign (and to discourage other wealthy interests from donating to the no side). I'm quoted deep in the piece on this phenomenon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Please Join Me Saturday in San Diego

Please join me this Saturday morning, May 2, in San Diego for what should be a fascinating discussion about the ballot measures on the May 19 special election. The event runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the San Diego Hall of Champions. (Sports fans out there would be wise to make it a day of California governance and sports). The event is free, but be sure to reserve yourself a seat by signing up here or here. And you can consider this brunch if you like--there will be food.

The panel is headlined by former Congressman and former state finance director Tom Campbell, who has thought as deeply about the state budget as anyone alive. (He has an interesting discussion on tax reform currently running on his web site). Also on the panel are Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune, writer of America's Finest Blog; New America senior scholar Mark Paul; and your blogger. The co-sponsors are New America, the Center for Policy Initiatives, and the City Club of San Diego.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On the Future of the Republican Party

For Angelenos out there, I was recently interviewed by CBS 2's Dave Bryan as part of an LA Roundtable show on the future of the California Republican Party. Yes, if there is one. The show can be downloaded here. (It's program #59). Those of you in LA can find it on Channel 35. It's one of several shows appearing in the 8 p.m. hour over the next month.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prop 1D and 1E, the Unintended Consequences

Here's my piece from this morning's LA Times on the possible unintended consequences of Props 1D and 1E, two of the measures on California's May 19 special election ballot. The two measures ask voters to raid taxes that voters approved in early initiatives. This is good for the budget short-term, but it establishes a precedent that will make future ballot initiatives less fiscally responsible (and thus worsen the state's structural deficit).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Attention, Central Valley Listeners

You can hear me tonight (Thursday, March 12) shortly after 8 p.m. on the great big AM radio station, KMJ, 580. I'll be talking with Inga Barks about ballot initiatives, California politics, the special election and Arnold. I appeared on her show in Bakersfield this morning on KERN 1180.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What's the Future of Newspapers?

In the Sacramento Bee's "The Conversation," I suggest that newspapers will survive -- but as content carriers, not producers.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Arnold and the Republicans

The headline of my piece in the Daily Beast doesn't fit the story exactly. (Gov. Schwarzenegger didn't consider switching parties; he had a conversation with associates about dropping out of the GOP and becoming an independent, but quickly discarded the idea.) But I think the piece is a helpful primer on the history of the relationship between Schwarzenegger and the Republicans. Bottom line: Schwarzenegger has never been a partisan, and his relationship with the party establishment has never been close. And in California, legislative Republicans have been a serious obstacle to advancing his agenda.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Furloughs Better Than Layoffs for Journalists

That's the position I take in a quote from this story in the Ventura County Star.

California Tilts North Politically

California has had Southern California governors for more than 40 years. But the streak is about to end. I explain why in Sunday's Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the Arena, Politico's Arena

I've joined the cast of dozens of folks who contribute to Politico's Arena site. Here's my first post, from this morning, on the questions of whether bipartisanship is a Washington DC obsession, and whether the journalists going to work for the Obama administration might have done the same for McCain.

On the Radio, Talking About the Budget

I've been a guest on Warren Olney's show "Which Way LA?" the past two evenings. In the first appearance, I described the serious threat to the state of California from the delay in addressing the budget crisis and cash crunch. In the second, I talked about how voters will have to pass judgment on various ballot measures that are part of the proposed deal.

The Morgue

The New Republic asked me to explain what's been lost with all the layoffs and buyouts at newspapers. Here's my attempt to do that. (I don't like the headline--the LA Times probably isn't going to die, but I'm proud of the result).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Latest F&H Columns: Budget Deal, LA Times, etc.

I write a twice-weekly column for the California business and politics web site Fox & Hounds Daily. Here are links to some of the latest comments.

On the California budget deal: "The Deal Is Terrible. Pass It Now"; "Cowards, Bullies and Bluffs"; "Cool! Our Own Boston Tea Party!"; "Selling Public Bonds Privately." And "Tax Reform Now, Or At Least a Rough Draft."

On the media: What Does the Death of the LA Times Local Section Mean?

On labor organizing and the federal bill, The Employee Free Choice Act: "A Way to Fix EFCA" and "The Fiction of Business' 'Secret Ballot' Argument."

On highway infrastructure: "A Southern California Test of Obama's Promises."

On Arnold: "The 'I Got Nothing' Speech" and "Some Founders Worried About Actors in Power."

Report on Cash Crunch Panel

Zocalo Public Square, sponsor of a panel I moderated Tuesday night with State Controller John Chiang on the question, "What Happens When California's Cash Runs Out?", has posted a description, with pictures, of the evening. It's here.

In the picture, I'm on the far right of the table, with, from left, New America senior scholar Mark Paul, Barclays Capital managing director Peter J. Taylor, and Chiang. Zocalo also published green room interviews with the participants. I'm interviewed here.

Talking About Silicon Valley

Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist whom I'm interviewed by email last week, has posted the exchange at his blog, The Riskmaster.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Arnold for HHS Secretary?

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic throws the governor's name into this item on possible secretaries now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn. My take: Schwarzenegger would be an excellent secretary (he knows the health care issue, and would be much more effective as a cabinet secretary with a focused portfolio than he is as a governor--in the same way he was better as an actor in a movie star, with a defined role to play, than as a director). But it won't happen. The governor couldn't leave California during this moment of crisis. And folks in labor would lose their mind, even though Schwarzenegger is a liberal on the health care issue, publicly favoring universal coverage (and privately, favoring European-style solutions that, in this country, would be dismissed as socialist).

Friday, January 23, 2009

We've Been Here Before

I have an essay in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times books section that re-reads classic journalism of California (Hinton Helper's "Land of Gold," Lincoln Steffens' autobiography, and especially Carey McWilliams' "California: The Great Exception") in the context of the state's budget deficit and cash crisis. The conclusion: California is always on the edge of fiscal cliff. In fact, our perilous finances are part of what define us as a state.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Panetta Feinstein Dust Up

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's criticism of fellow Californian Leon Panetta drew intense media interest. Some assumed the two are rivals. It ain't so. The New Republic online quoted my explanation in this piece. The progressive web site Calitics picked up my blog post on Panetta's role in the reform movement, but thinks I'm wrong.

The 'I Got Nothing' Speech

Appearing Thursday on San Diego's NPR affiliate, KPBS, I discussed Gov. Schwarzenegger's "state of the state" speech. The audio is here. I developed my argument further in this column at Fox & Hounds Daily.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Latest Fox & Hounds Columns

I contribute a couple of short columns a week to Fox & Hounds Daily, a new web site for commentary and news on California business and politics. Here are some of the latest:

"The Advice Arnold Didn't Take," from Dec. 23.

5 Ways to Repeal Prop 8, from Dec. 8.

Revehen Hits the Nail on the Head, from Nov. 21.

Where Does Arnold Go Next? from Nov. 25.

The Perils of the Rose Parade

I love the parade and grew up near the route in Pasadena. But I'm a bit worried about its future. Why? I explained on New Year's Eve in this piece in the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What Went Wrong With Arnold?

Writing at Fox & Hounds Daily, I recall how the governor ignored what proved to be good advice from a UCLA economist on how to use taxes to balance the budget.

Elsewhere, my former LA Times colleague Tim Cavanaugh has a piece in the LA Weekly in which he runs through the explanations for Schwarzenegger's failures. I'm quoted on his difficulty in dealing with Republicans.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Becoming a senior fellow at the New America Foundation has been a big adjustment. One of the strangest things: I'm no longer only the guy asking questions. Sometimes, reporters are interviewing me, usually about the ballot initiative process.

In this Oakland Tribune story, I try to explain why California initiatives draw so many legal challenges. (The short version: the inflexibility of California's initiative system, which requires that any law established by initiative be changed only by another vote of the people, leaves opponents little choice but to go to court).

In this story in the Salt Lake City Tribune, I again question the wisdom of targeting the Mormon Church for protests after the passage of Prop 8, the California initiative to ban same-sex marriage. The protests are counterproductive for the cause of marriage equality.

And in this story from the San Diego Union-Tribune, I'm quoted on Gov. Schwarzenegger's political future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Problems of Prop 8

On Sunday night, I appeared on the nationally syndicated radio show Beyond the Beltway to discuss the campaign troubles that led to the unexpected victory of Prop 8, the California ban on same-sex marriage.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Recent Radio On Referenda-Initiatives Proposal

Wednesday night, I was interviewed on KVMR News about my proposal to reform California's initiative process. A link to the show and audio is here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama And Latinos

Here's the English-language version, via Fox & Hounds Daily, of a piece I wrote a few weeks before the election about Obama's effort. (It was previously published in Spanish).

The Real Bradley Effect: Guns, Mail and Football

I spent a couple weeks tracking down all sorts of people and data from the much discussed 1982 governor's race in California, in which Tom Bradley unexpected lost to George Deukmejian. Here's a short piece on my findings that appeared in Politico on election day. I have a longer version that should appear elsewhere in the coming months.

The Dangers of Teaching Gay Marriage to Kindergarteners

The claim of the now victorious Prop 8 campaign, the California initiative to ban same-sex marriage, is that if same-sex marriage remains legal in the state, even small children will have to be taught about such marriages in school. I imagine in this New American item how you might explain same-sex marriage to kindergarteners.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Creepy Campaign

In the Washington Post, I look at how the campaign over Prop 8, the California initiative to ban same-sex marriage, has turned into a nasty contest.

Big Idea: More Referenda, Fewer Initiatives

I lay out a plan to improve California politics -- specifically its initaitive politics -- in Sunday's Sacramento Bee. The idea boils down to making it easier to qualify referenda -- measures reversing an act of the legislature -- for the ballot and harder to qualify or pass initiatives -- which allow voters to circumvent the legislature entirely. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The piece ran as part of a regular Sunday feature called The Conversation. So please be sure to check out the three pieces responding to my idea. It'd also be wonderful if you would like to contribute your own comments on the site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Please Join Me in Sacramento Tuesday, Oct. 14

It'll be a tough day for someone who enjoys being a critic, but on Tuesday morning in Sacramento, I'll actually be proposing a solution to a problem. The problem is California's initiative process. New America, the foundation that employs me, is hosting an event entitled, "Blockbuster Democracy." The full details are here. (Please click the link and you can sign up to attend on the right-hand side of the web page).

It begins at 9:30 a.m. at the California State Association of Counties, 1020 11th Street, 2nd floor. I'll speak beginning at 9:45 a.m. Also offering ideas for how to improve California's direct democracy are Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies; Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, Tony Rubenstein, a longtime initiative entrepreneur, and my New America colleague, senior scholar Mark Paul, who will talk about the impact of initiatives on California's troubled finances. Lunch is provided--there will be a question and answer session at lunchtime.

A California 'Bill of Rights'

There's been a lot of talk of constitutional reform in California. So, tongue in cheek, I offer my proposal for a California "bill of rights" in this Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle.

Text of Keynote Speech in Aarau, Switzerland

Here's a link to the keynote speech I delivered Oct. 1 in Aarau, Switzerland at the first global seminar on direct democracy.

Highlights from Switzerland

I spent a week in Switzerland reporting and attending a gathering for a new organization, the World Democracy Forum, that brings together journalists, academics and others interested in initiatives and referenda. Here are links to some of the items I filed from Switzerland: Uruguay and a Common Language of Direct Democracy, Word of the Day, Stat of the Day, World Democracy Forum, The Germans on the Bus, Think Like a Philosopher and Write Like a Farmer, The Initiative Monk, The Swiss Skepticism Of Ballot Initiatives, The Wisdom Of Voting in More Than One Place, Turnout Apologies, The Home of William Tell, and More Choice for Voters Here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In Scientific American

In this piece for Scientific American, I analyze the political prospects of two California ballot initiatives that would promote greater use of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Constitutional Convention?

Today I appeared on KCRW (89.9-FM), the Los Angeles NPR affiliate. with historian Kevin Starr to discuss the budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger's political predicament, and the possibility of a state constitutional convention. A link to the program is here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Governor Should Embrace Own Recall

The prison guards' union wants to recall Gov. Schwarzenegger. I think he should embrace the recall vote--and defeat the recall as part of a strategy to renew his political capital. Here's my piece in the LA Times on the subject.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sept. 9 Panel On Teachers' Unions

Please join me on Tuesday evening, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Riordan Central Library in downtown Los Angeles for a Zocalo LA panel, "Are Teachers' Unions Too Powerful? Or Not Powerful Enough?"

I'll be moderating. Our panelists are a strong group: Joshua Pechthalt, vice president of United Teachers Los Angeles; Mikki Cichocki, a board member of the California Teachers Assn.; David Tokofsky, former LAUSD board member; and Steve Barr, founder and CEO of Green Dot Public Schools, the charter school organization. Admission is free. More details are here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Does California Need a New Capital?

I think so. And in today's LA Times, I suggest a new location.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Free Little League Is A Right

Last year and early this year, before I returned to California to become a New America fellow, I spent some time in Pennsylvania researching the life of Carl E. Stotz, the founder of Little League Baseball. Stotz broke with Little League in a bitter dispute with the organization's board in 1955. And his successors, who came from the corporate world, changed Little League. But his original vision of Little League survives in several rules -- including a little-enforced Little League rule that any child who wants can play, even if his or her family can't afford the league fees. Here's my piece in the New York Times explaining the roots of a little-known American right: free Little League.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Test For Union Leadership

Here's my short column in Fox & Hounds on recent revelations about Tyrone Freeman, the leader of a huge SEIU local that represents home health care workers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gay Marriage And Presidential Campaign

Here's a link to audio of my appearance on the July 20 nationally syndicated show, "Beyond the Beltway," with Bruce DuMont. I show up in the last half-hour of the two-hour show.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poll Skimming

Here's my quick take on the prospects of various California ballot initiatives, based on the recent Field Poll.

On Schwarzenegger, Budget, State Workers

Here's a link to the audio of my appearance on Warren Olney's KCRW show, "Which Way, LA?" discussing Schwarzenegger's threat to reduce state workers' pay until the state has a new budget signed. The budget is more than a month late, and there's growing concern that the state could run out of cash next month. On the program with me are State Controller John Chiang and Schwarzenegger finance director Mike Genest. It left me with the impression that a budget agreement may be closer than we think. If state leaders let Chiang and Genest negotiate it themselves, we'd be done this weekend.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is Schwarzenegger Planning to Leave Governorship?

After watching the governor flirt on ABC News this morning with the idea of being an energy czar for a President Obama, I think it's possible. Such an appointment might make sense for both Obama and Schwarzenegger. Here's my Sunday column on the subject, from the New America Foundation web site.

Mystery Of Prop 98

Here's my piece from Sunday's Los Angeles Times on the history, complexity and future of Prop 98.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Redistricting Slugfest

Tony Quinn and I have been engaged in a back and forth over a California ballot initiative to reform how legislative districts are drawn. The interesting part is that Tony and I both think the initiative is a decent idea. We disagree about its chance. He thinks it has a decent chance of winning, and I think it has virtually no chance. And the opportunity cost of pursuing this idea again is huge; it would be better for its supporters to drop the idea and come up with a new game plan for pursuing political reform.

Dude, Where's My Car?

Here's a short story I did about shipping my wife's car cross country. It tells part of the tale of California's economic collapse.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Is Arnold the Most Conservative Governor?

He could make the case, if the issue is taxes (and a certain Brown isn't part of the conversation). From this week's Fox & Hounds, a new web site focusing on California and business.

Here's a previous column of mine from the same site.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Betting on the Lottery

Here's my piece from this Sunday's Los Angeles Times on the proposal to borrow against future state lottery revenues. I tried to tamp down some of the crazier rhetoric about this idea. With the state unwilling to tackle serious budget or tax reform, this is the best idea on the table.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Video and Audio of Panel

Now available is video and audio of the May 27 panel I moderated on "ballot box planning," the phenomenon of major land use and planning questions being decided by voters through local ballot measures.

The Hugh Hefner of Politics

Here's my profile of Taylor Marsh, pro-Clinton blogger and voice, from The New Republic. She's been much criticized, but I really enjoyed meeting with her and talking with her, and believe she has a promising future as a commentator.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gay Marriage's Vietnam?

I'm for gay marriage, but there's reason to worry about the ability of California -- and its dysfunctional government -- to legalize it. Here's my look at the question in Sunday's Washington Post. And here's a Q&A I did on the Post web site. (Yes, there are plenty of typos and missing words in my typing on this, but in my defense, I'd been up all night after a United Airlines ordeal).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Audio: From Business at Local Ballot Panel

Here's a link to the audio of the Zocalo LA panel, "Is Business Abusing the Ballot?", that I moderated May 27 at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. We made some news that night. Harvey Englander, a consultant for hotels near LAX, said his clients would not sponsor a referendum of a law extending LA's so-called "living wage" protections to workers there. (At least half the workers already make a salary equivalent to the living wage, of $10.64 per hour, according to the hotels). The event runs about an hour.