California

Building the Train to Nowhere

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The California High Speed Rail Authority has approved building its first 54 miles in the San Joaquin Valley. A somewhat longer route, 65 miles, has been indicated in a number of press reports, but Authority documents indicate that only 54 miles of high speed rail track will be built. The route would start in Corcoran, and go through Fresno to Borden, a small, unincorporated community south of Madera. All of this would cost $4.15 billion. The route would include two stations, in Fresno and Hanford/Visalia.  read more »

Education Wars: The New Battle For Brains

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The end of stimulus — as well as the power shift in Congress — will have a profound effect on which regions and states can position themselves for the longer-term recovery. Nowhere will this be more critical than in the battle for brains.

In the past, and the present, places have competed for smart, high-skilled newcomers by building impressive physical infrastructure and offering incentives and inducements for companies or individuals. But the battle for the brains — and for long-term growth — is increasingly tied to whether a state can maintain or expand its state-supported higher education. This is particularly critical given the growing student debt crisis, which may make public institutions even more attractive to top students.  read more »

I Opt-out of California

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Like the harried traveler who made famous the expression, “Don’t touch my junk”, I have elected my own personal protest, California style. I have decided to OPT-OUT of California to protest my overgrown state government. I am tired of California legislators sticking their hands in my pants to pay for the European style social welfare state they have created. My work, my earnings and my taxes will go elsewhere.  read more »

Looking Down Under for a California Turnaround

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At a time when government in California faces an existential crisis, it’s telling to observe a starkly different picture in Australia. Forty years ago, local officials in fast-growing suburban communities in Queensland, Australia looked to their colleagues in fast-growing suburban communities in California as kindred spirits. They began a tradition of trading annual exchange visits to compare notes. Last month I had the opportunity to participate in that exchange. This year’s gathering took place on the “Sunshine Coast” north of Brisbane.  read more »

California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?

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In the future, historians may likely mark the 2010 midterm elections as the end of the California era and the beginning of the Texas one. In one stunning stroke, amid a national conservative tide, California voters essentially ratified a political and regulatory regime that has left much of the state unemployed and many others looking for the exits.  read more »

Geography of the Election: A New Era of Racial Politics

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Laura Jean Berger worked on the Congressional Campaign of Assemblyman Van Tran. This is her account of the results.

Energy and free beer flowed through Assemblyman Van Tran's campaign headquarters, the crowd anxiously building with anticipation each time Fox News reported another House seat for the Republicans. Every major network's live trucks crowded the parking lot of the converted Blockbuster video store, their cameras trained on a stage set for a victory speech.  read more »

The Real OC: Diverse, Dynamic and — Dare I Say — Progressive

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I recently returned to Orange County after a decade’s absence, fully aware that a stereotype of all-white, card-carrying-John Birchers still exists among many who remain unfamiliar with facts on the ground here.

I never bought that old saw in the first place.

And now, on a second venture into OC, I’m amazed by how deeply those old stereotypes have been buried under the accumulated accomplishments of everyday folks.  read more »

Help Mexico: Legalize Pot

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Mexico is disintegrating. Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and shootings are now common. Recently, the mayor of Tancitaro Mexico was stoned to death. Mexican corruption is so rampant that United States law enforcement officials are reluctant to work with their Mexican counterparts out, fearing perverse results.  read more »

Subjects:

The Urban Bike Tribes of Los Angeles

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A recent Los Angeles Times article chronicled a showdown between drivers and bicyclists, inspired by the installation of bike lanes and — more significantly — the reduction of auto traffic lanes on a San Fernando Valley boulevard. The change was clearly intended to encourage cyclists, but I had to wonder: Which ones? In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, even the bike riders are divided, loosely, into different tribes.  read more »

California’s New Grassroots Movement: High-Speed Rail on the Peninsula

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In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A to allocate $9.95 billion of the state’s money to a high-speed rail system. Just two years later, many of these same voters are yelling and screaming at the High-Speed Rail Authority to revise their plans. Why have Californians turned against this project so quickly?  read more »