In summary

Highlighting all of CALmatters’ work over the past week

Recent Articles

California isn’t built for 21st century wildfires—here’s what the state could do about that

By Ben Christopher

As California grapples with an increasing possibility that once-in-a-century wildfires become once-a-year occurrences, larger swaths of the state’s population may find themselves living in high-risk regions of the state. Which presents lawmakers with a dilemma: impose costly and politically unpalatable regulations on homeowners and rip up existing infrastructure—or simply accept the risk.

“I don’t want to see any more of them die”: No legislator has confronted the effects of wildfire like this forensic dentist

By Laurel Rosenhall

Jim Wood is tackling two enormous, heart-wrenching puzzles: identifying the people who perished this month in California’s deadliest wildfire, and figuring out what state policies could prevent such catastrophes in the future.

Power companies must do more to fireproof their equipment, but it won’t be cheap—and customers may pay

By Julie Cart

California’s increasingly dire blazes have brought a reckoning over the role of power equipment in starting wildfires.

A ‘job killer’ family leave bill is now law for small business. Here’s how it’s working out

By Martha Groves

The California Chamber of Commerce called the state’s small business family leave protections a ‘job killer.’ We explore the actual consequences of the new law.

Tony Thurmond is the new schools chief. Now what?

By Ricardo Cano

With bucks and boots on the ground from California teachers’ unions, Bay Area Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond declared victory as California’s new superintendent of public instruction—an outcome that essentially endorses the labor-backed education establishment in the state.

Big city mayors to California lawmakers on homelessness: Go bold

By Matt Levin

The mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and Sacramento called for bold state action to remedy homelessness, including reviving an affordable housing funding source and making it easier to build shelters.

Photos: California wildfires destroy iconic landmarks across the state

By Elizabeth Castillo

Fires raging across California have decimated these historical and recognizable landmarks.

CALmatters Election Blog

Record number of women candidates win in California’s 2018 election

By Ben Christopher

The 2018 midterm election in California was a high-water mark for women seeking elected office—as well as a reminder of just how male-dominated our politics still are.

How President Trump helped Democrats flip California House seats

By Laurel Rosenhall

Dislike of President Trump motivated many Californians to vote for Democrats, and has helped the party flip six seats in the U.S. House.

Lara wins for state insurance commissioner—another loss for California right-of-center candidates

By Ben Christopher

Adding insult to the debilitating injury California’s Republican Party sustained on Election Day, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara has beaten Republican-turned-political independent Steve Poizner to become the the state’s next insurance commissioner.


School budgets squeezed despite ‘extraordinary’ state surplus

By Dan Walters

The state government’s budget situation is quite rosy, as Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor points out. But school districts are facing a financial squeeze as enrollment drops and costs, especially pension costs, rise.

My turn: Why excluding convicted felons from juries is a bad idea

Guest Commentary

A citizen who bears the mark of a felony conviction poses no more of a threat to a jury than does any other citizen who has at some point lied, cheated, stolen, made a mistake, but has never been caught. And like those citizens, prospective jurors with a felony criminal history ought to be allowed to take part in jury selection, to help ensure that our juries reflect our citizenry.

The ‘Trump effect’ worked well for Democrats

By Dan Walters

President Donald Trump said he wanted this month’s election to be a referendum on him and in California, it certainly was, leading to a massive Democratic sweep.

My turn: L.A. teacher’s union can avert a strike and help kids. Here’s how

Guest Commentary

The Los Angeles Unified School District should stop subsidizing health insurance for retirees who are entitled to these federally funded insurances or subsidies. That money could be used to reduce class sizes, raise teachers’ salaries, and hire more staff.

My turn: A (very) open letter to Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom

Guest Commentary

As Gavin Newsom begins the somber duty of declaring disasters, issuing statements of reassurance and condolences, and lowering the capitol flag to half-staff, here are some disruptive ideas for keeping the spirit of California up–ideas he may not hear from those around him responsible for putting out the day-to-day fires.

My turn: How Gavin Newsom can be the climate leader we need

Guest Commentary

California oil regulators have issued more than 21,000 new drilling permits on Brown’s watch. Continued permitting is undermining California’s ability to meet its own climate goals and those of the Paris agreement. Will Newsom finally stop this drilling free-for-all?

My turn: California Republicans missed the future

Guest Commentary

Donald Trump’s statements on immigration, gender equality, and the environment damaged the Republican brand in California. While many of us continued to work on solution- and people-oriented policies, a vocal minority of the Republican Party viewed Trump’s election as a reason to double down on his rhetoric.

My turn: Voters showed heart by supporting housing for people with mental illness

Guest Commentary

Proposition 2 passed with more votes than any proposition on the statewide ballot. The outcome underscores the extent to which people across this state recognize homelessness as a crisis that is tearing at the fabric of our communities.

My turn: We must do a better job with birth control education

Guest Commentary

New research finds a troubling disconnect between the community college students’ desire to avoid pregnancy and how they act when it comes to preventing it. Students do not consider themselves to be at risk of pregnancy, nor do they express worry about getting pregnant, despite not wanting to have a child while in school.

One election over, another looms on the horizon

By Dan Walters

This year’s votes are still being counted in California, but political pros are looking to 2020 and the state’s earlier presidential primary. A flock of would-be candidates could make California a player.

My turn: A chance to finally solve the Delta quandary

Guest Commentary

Deal-making on water is hard. But facing the impending State Water Board regulations, parties in the San Joaquin River basin might be motivated to reach a voluntary accord. Gov. Jerry Brown ad Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom are pushing for it.

Outgoing Gov. Brown tries to forge big water deal

By Dan Walters

As climate change threatens to affect California’s water supply, outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown tries to do a big picture water deal in the final days of his governorship.

My turn: Hope must not be squeezed from our souls

Guest Commentary

The rupture in society has returned, led by too many leaders who forget that words matter, especially when they are mired deeply in the pools of the discord and distrust that exists today, and when they are given widespread exposure on the mountain of social media outlets available. Is it worse than the divisions of the last century? If so, how can it be erased?

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