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Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category



Why Democrats in Congress Should Just Say ‘No’

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

senatedemsBy Dick Polman
NewsWorks.org

Should Democrats seek common ground with Donald Trump or oppose him at every turn? On Capitol Hill, should they abet or obstruct?

I can answer that. But first, let’s flash back to Inauguration Night, 2009.

Barack Obama had just beaten John McCain by a margin of 10 million votes and 7.2 percentage points — the biggest Democratic win since 1964. Democrats also won both congressional chambers. And yet, despite this decisive pro-Democratic mandate to govern, congressional Republicans resolved, at a private dinner on day one, not to offer a scintilla of cooperation.

shutterstock_newt

Resistance Isn’t Futile They resolved to thwart Obama’s efforts to fix the Great Recession, hoping that his failures would grease a Republican comeback in the 2012 race. Newt Gingrich, a dinner guest, reportedly told his former colleagues, “You will remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”

Here’s where we are today: Trump has lost the popular vote (at last count) by a whopping 2.66 million. His losing share of the popular vote (46.2 percent) is the worst for an Electoral College winner since John Quincy Adams in 1824. Even his winning electoral vote margin (74) is a pittance compared to Obama’s winning ’08 margin (192). So why should Democrats on Capitol Hill give Trump the cooperative deference that Republicans denied to Obama?

corleoneGodfather Wisdom As Michael Corleone said in “The Godfather II” movie, “My offer is this: Nothing.”

Cooperating with Trump, behaving as if he were just another Republican, would lend legitimacy to his authoritarian bent. Cooperating with Trump would “normalize” his racist populism and his serial lies. Such a strategy — tantamount to surrender — would be disastrous for a Democratic Party that has spent decades fighting for tolerance and diversity.

Democrats have buckled in the past. Even though George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, they acted as if the guy had a mandate to govern. Lots of Democrats voted for Bush’s deficit-cratering tax cuts. They voted for his Iraq war resolution, despite the dearth of evidence that Saddam had WMDs. They supplied enough votes to put John Roberts in charge of the Supreme Court. Republicans reciprocated by foiling Obama on a regular basis, blocking everything from his 2011 American Jobs Act (which could’ve put as many as two million people back to work) to his last Supreme Court nominee (the radical refusal to even hold hearings on Merrick Garland was unprecedented).

sulky-McConnellDo What Mitch Did David Faris, a political science prof at Roosevelt University, said it well in a column the other day:

“[Cooperation] is the first instinct of the Democratic Party even after a crushing, incomprehensible defeat … The urge to minimize the damage in defense of the public interest is broadly shared, and understandable. It must make many Democrats proud to support a party that truly believes in the public good, even at the expense of winning.

“On the other hand, no. It’s time for Democrats to say no. To everything …

“It helps that the Republicans — led by a man who rage-tweets fake news in the middle of the night — are about to embark on a long voyage of turning every single thing they touch into garbage. There should be no Democratic fingerprints whatsoever on the coming catastrophe … Hand Trump the keys and let him drive into a tree.”

cartoondonaldHe’s Already Too Extreme That sounds harsh. But, lest we forget, Republicans paid virtually no political price for their eight years of anti-Obama obstruction. Voters didn’t seem to care that Republicans thwarted a president who twice won elections with a majority of the popular vote. Why would they punish Democrats for standing in steadfast opposition to an unqualified poseur who was rejected last month by 53.8 percent of all voters? Chuck Schumer, the new Senate minority leader, is indeed warning that when Trump gets too extreme, “we’ll go after him with everything we’ve got.”

 

Senate Democrats can set the tone by putting Trump’s Cabinet picks through the wringer, because a number of them deserve to be seriously slow-walked — most notably, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions (rejected for a federal judgeship 30 years ago, due to his racist remarks), Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin (who made piles of money foreclosing on homeowners during the Great Recession), and Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price (who wants to kill Obamacare, a move that would nix coverage for 20 million people). And what remotely qualifies Ben Carson to be housing secretary, beyond the fact that he lives in a house?

dickpolmanFortunately, Democrats are indeed vowing to combat those nominees. Hey, it’s a start. My unsolicited advice is simple: Grow a pair.

Dick Polman, former political writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, blogs at  www.newsworks.org, where this column originally appeared.

Why Brown’s Choice of Becerra for AG is Brilliant

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

becerraGov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Democratic U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles to become the state’s first Latino Attorney General, replacing Senator-elect Kamala Harris, is a shrewd and surprising political move and a superb pick.

It not only instantly positions one of California’s most talented politicians as a national leader of anti-Trump progressive forces, but also prepares the state for looming bitter legal battles against the president-elect’s reactionary policies on immigration, health care and climate change.

Becerra is keenly aware of the challenges.

“Right now, when California continues to lean forward on so many issues: environment, clean energy, immigration, criminal justice and consumer protection, we’re going to need a chief law enforcement office to advance those positions and protect them,” he told the Sacramento Bee.

All in all, it’s the first bit of good news we’ve had since election night. (even though we were poised to endorse furniture breaker and populist legal bruiser Joe Cotchett for the job).

garrysouthnew1cropPolitical gamers impressed. Becerra, 58, is the son of Mexican immigrants who grew up in Sacramento, earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Stanford and has served as a leader of the House Democratic and Congressional Hispanic Caucuses. He also has served in the California Assembly and as deputy attorney general under John Van de Kamp.

“Once again, Brown surprises,” said Democratic consultant Garry South, noting that Becerra’s name was not on anyone’s speculation list of potential appointments to fill the last two years of Harris’s term.

“This is not a Rose Bird kind of appointment,” South added, referring to the controversial former chief justice of the California Supreme Court whom Brown appointed in 1977. “He has the experience, character and background to be a credible attorney general.”

“It’s a shrewd pick,” drawled graybeard California Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, describing Becerra as “really smart, politically savvy and somebody who can manage that office.”

The political implications of Becerra’s nomination – his confirmation by the Democratically controlled California Assembly and Senate is all but assured – are myriad.

No sooner was the ink dry on Brown announcement of Becerra’s nomination when former Assembly Speaker John Perez declared he would run to fill Becerra’s seat in Congress, which is liable to be hotly contested. Speculation about other political impacts came fast and furious. Asked Thursday by NBC’s Chuck Todd whether he would rule out running for governor or U.S. Senate in 2018, Becerra artfully sidestepped and said only he will be grateful to be confirmed as attorney general.

Which leaves speculation running rampant about:

davejones– Attorney General: Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones – who has tangled with Gov. Brown over regulation of insurance rates in the past — had already announced his intention to seek the AG’s job in 2018; with Becerra holding the office with the ability to seek two full terms, the likelihood of an internal party contest for the post arose immediately. As the first Latino AG with a wide national network, however, Becerra would be in a prohibitively strong position to seek election to the post. Jerry serves his revenge cold.

gavintonyv– Governor: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Treasurer John Chiang all have announced bids for governor in 2018, as has Delaine Eastin, former Superintendent of Public Instruction. Other possible contenders include billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former State Controller Steve Westly, to name a few.

While Becerra would make another top-tier potential candidate for governor, Calbuzz insiders on Thursday suggested he is unlikely to jump into the 2018 race for governor. In part, it’s expected that during Legislative confirmation hearings he’ll have to say he intends to serve as attorney general, and in order to run for governor he would have to pivot almost immediately to planning a campaign or 2018. The timing and optics would be ugly. (Prince Gavin and Tony V especially can likely breathe a sigh of relief.)

difi– U.S. Senate: What remains less clear is what would happen in 2018 if, at the last minute – her preferred timeline – 83-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (who will then be 85) decides to retire and the Democrats are scrambling for a first-rate replacement who could step into the job seamlessly. Although California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is said to be eager to seek Feinstein’s job, Becerra might look to many Democrats as a stronger choice. (Difi, showing no signs of slowing down, has staked out a high-profile position to scrap with Trump in Washington, as the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and close ally of Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York).

In the meantime, Becerra has an opportunity to play a crucial role as the chief law enforcement officer of the largest state – one where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by more than four million (!) votes – which is also a leader on climate change, immigration, health care, civil rights, women’s rights and so much more.

jerrygandalfBottom line. We’ve met with and interviewed Becerra several times and came away extremely impressed. Jerry Brown has made an inspired choice and allied himself with a forceful, intelligent Latino politician who we expect to carry the banner against Trumpism and all its despicable effects, while competently carrying out the duties of California’s Attorney General.

Nice work, Gandalf.

From Ted to Trump: Why Do You Want the Gig?

Monday, November 28th, 2016

young tedIn 1979, the late Senator Ted Kennedy famously torpedoed his nascent campaign to challenge President Jimmy Carter by blathering in a high-profile CBS interview when asked a deceptively simple question:

Why do you want to be president?

Well, I’m, ah, were I to make the announcement and to run, the reasons that I would run is because I have a great belief in this country that it is, there’s more natural resources than any nation in the world, there’s the greatest educated population in the world the greatest technology of any country in the world, the greatest capacity for innovation in the world and the greatest political system in the world.

Things went downhill from there. (Unless you count this – I would basically feel that it’s imperative for this country to either move forward, that it can’t stand still or otherwise it moves backward – as great rhetoric).

Kennedy’s nearly-incoherent response to interlocutor Roger Mudd long ago became an iconic image for a candidate or campaign that simply has no rationale for being.

Sort of like Donald Trump’s.

TrumpBabyRecount that election I won! As the (gulp) president-elect (gaggghh!) worked earnestly to unite the country over the holiday weekend by falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton’s ever-growing, 2.5 million vote lead in the popular vote is due entirely to fraudulent ballots cast by undocumented immigrants (while paradoxically attacking her for supporting a recount in what he says is a fraudulent election) Kennedy’s Mudd Moment came to mind as we recalled Herr Trump’s similar, if steroid-level, failure to answer the why-you-want-it question.

Where Kennedy babbled on the subject for a mere 242 words (many in complete sentences!), however, Trumpkins spewed nearly 3,000, in stream of consciousness bursts, byways and digressions, when Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post posed their own version of the Mudd question in March.

Trump now offers daily demonstrations that indicate his one and only purpose in campaigning for the presidency was to, well, campaign for the presidency. His utter inability, way back last spring, to compose a single comprehensible, let alone cogent, sentence about why he wanted the presidency explains a lot about why he’s quickly reverting to comfort zone Twitter campaigning instead of focusing on, you know, the problems of the nation.

In that context, it’s worth looking back at the incredible dreck he disgorged in the WashPost interview, published April 2.

What did you know and when did you know it? Woodward began with his version of the Mudd Question, asking Trump to identify his go/no go moment for jumping into the race and to discuss the thinking that went into it:

Where do you start the movie of your decision to run for president? Because that is a big deal. A lot of internal/external stuff, and we’d love to hear your monologue on how you did it.

Trump clearly loved the movie reference and therefore explained his desire to be president by noting that there were a lot of cameras at his announcement:

Where do you start the movie? I think it’s actually — and very interesting question — but I think the start was standing on top of the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, which is the day — Bob, you were there, and you know what I mean, because there has. . . . I mean, it looked like the Academy Awards. I talk about it. There were so many cameras. So many — it was packed. The atrium of Trump Tower, which is a very big place, was packed. It literally looked like the Academy Awards. And . . .  .

Woodward then interjects, for the first of about 456 times, in an effort to keep Trump on course and to get an answer to his question.

“But we want to go before that moment,” he said, as Costa helpfully suggests, “Maybe late 2014 or before you started hiring people?

There ensued a long, painful, absurd, hilarious and, in retrospect, horrifying, colloquy in which the steadfast Postmen used all their tools and techniques as interviewers to force an answer from a guy who clearly had never spent a single minute thinking about the question.

woodward-bob-largeHerewith a lengthy excerpt that provides a taste of the total idiocy the world’s greatest nation now faces in its president.

DT: Well, but that was — okay, but I will tell you, until the very end. . . . You know, I have a good life. I built a great company. It’s been amazingly — I’m sure you looked at the numbers. I have very little debt, tremendous assets. And great cash flows. I have a wonderful family. Ivanka just had a baby. Doing this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. People have — many of my friends, very successful people, have said, “Why would you do this?”

BW: So is there a linchpin moment, Mr. Trump, where it went from maybe to yes, I’m going to do this? And when was that?

DT: Yeah. I would really say it was at the beginning of last year, like in January of last year. And there were a couple of times. One was, I was doing a lot of deals. I was looking at very seriously one time, not — they say, oh, he looked at it for many — I really, no. I made a speech at the end of the ’80s in New Hampshire, but it was really a speech that was, it was not a political speech. But because it happened to be in New Hampshire . . .  .

BW: And that guy was trying to draft you.

DT: And he was a very nice guy. But he asked me. And he was so intent, and I made a speech. It was not a political speech, anyway, and I forgot about it.

BW: And that was the real possibility? Or the first . . .  .

DT: Well no, the real possibility was the Romney time, or the Romney term. This last one four years ago. I looked at that, really. I never looked at it seriously then. I was building my business, I was doing well. And I went up to New Hampshire, made a speech. And because it was in New Hampshire, it was sort of like, Trump is going to run. And since then people have said, Trump is going to run. I never was interested. I could almost say at all, gave it very little thought, other than the last time, where Romney was running. And I thought that Romney was a weak candidate. I thought that — I thought Obama was very beatable. Very, very beatable. You know, you had a president who was not doing well, to put it nicely. And I looked at that very seriously. I had some difficulty because I was doing some big jobs that were finishing up, which I wanted to do. My children were younger. And four years makes a big difference. And I also had a signed contract to do “The Apprentice” with NBC. Which in all fairness, you know, sounds like — when you’re talking about “president” it doesn’t sound much, but when you have a two-hour show, prime time, every once a week on a major network . . .  .

BW: So when did it go to yes?

DT:  So — okay.

BW: Because that’s — having made, you know, we all make minor decisions in our lives.

DT: Okay.

BW: This is the big one.

DT:  Big decision. Yeah, this is a big decision. And I say, sometimes I’ll say it in the speeches. It takes guts to run for president, especially if you’re not a politician, you’ve never . . .  .

BW: When did it become yes?

trumpchuckyDT: What happened is, during that time that I was just talking about, I started saying I’d like to do it, but I wasn’t really in a position to do it. I was doing a lot of things, and I had a signed contract with NBC. But I started thinking about it. And the press started putting me in polls, and I was winning in the polls. In fact, the day before, I was on “Meet the Press” the day before I announced I wasn’t going to do it, and I got signed for another two years of “The Apprentice” and everything else. Which, by the way, I don’t know if you saw, but “The Apprentice” is a big thing. I made two hundred . . .  .

BW: You made a lot of money.

DT: Yeah. You were shocked. Remember this crazy man, Lawrence O’Donnell — he’s a total crazy nut — he said, Donald Trump only made a million dollars with “The Apprentice.” I said, “A million dollars?” You know, when you have a show that’s essentially number one almost every time it goes on, you can name it. . . . So anyway, when they added it all up — and these are certified numbers, because you have to do certified numbers — it came out to $213 million. Okay? That’s what I made on “The Apprentice.” That’s just — and that’s one of my small things. That’s what I made. You know? So it was put at $213 million, and it was certified. And your friend Joe in the morning said, “There’s no way he only made. . . .” They had a big fight, and O’Donnell, Lawrence O’Donnell started crying. I never saw anything like it. Do you remember? He started crying. [Laughter] He actually started crying. But that shows the level of hatred that people have. But what happened is, I made — I had a very, very successful show. And they put me in polls, and I was essentially leading right at the top, without doing any work. Not one speech, not one anything. But any time I was in a poll, I did very well in the poll. Anyway, I decided not to do it. NBC called and Mark Burnett would call, and I did see if I could get out. I had another year on the contract. Because you’re not allowed, because of the equal time, you’re not allowed to have a show . . .  .

RC: What happened between 2011 and 2014?

DT: Well, that’s what — I mean. . . . Between 2011 and 2014? I would say, just thought process. Only thought process.

Thought process, indeed.

trumphandsBottom line. There’s more, sadly, much, much more, but you get the idea.

The point here, other than showing that a few news organizations actually did make a serious effort, despite the blanket trashing of “the media,” is simply to illustrate just how deeply Trump now is in over his head.

In those secret, secret, oh so secret moments before beddy-bye, when Little Donny gazes into the mirror to throw a net over that hirsute wedding cake concoction on top of his melon head, then looks down at his tiny, tiny hands, even he must begin to realize that you must always be careful what you wish for.

 

 

 

“Oswald’s Been Shot” – A Tale of Two Photos

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

oswaldshot1Here’s a Calbuzz Classic, from the 2013 memory file, to commemorate once again the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the most tragic and consequential political event of our lifetimes. For those of a certain age. the live coverage of that wretched weekend began a string  of televised cultural horror shows that, for now, ends with the election of Donald Trump. As the saying goes, he’s no Jack Kennedy.

It’s often said that the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a major league fastball, an act that provides a batter about six-tenths of a second to see the ball, decide whether it’s a strike and then to swing at it.

Given that, it seems about time that photojournalists (average salary $53,750) start getting paid more like ballplayers (average salary $3.2 million).

That conclusion emerges from recalling how two local news photographers performed in the white-hot spotlight of history 50 years ago, when strip club owner Jack Ruby gunned down alleged presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the underground parking garage of the Dallas Police Department.

oswardshot2Six-tenths of a second, in fact, is precisely the difference in the timing of two great photographs taken of the event, one by Dallas Times Herald photographer Robert H. “Bob” Jackson (above), and the other by the late Ira Jefferson “Jack” Beers of the Dallas Morning News (left). Beers’ image captured the instant before Ruby fired, Jackson’s the impact; Beers’ photo for the morning paper went around the world first, distributed by the Associated Press, Jackson’s was published a few hours later, and won the Pulitzer Prize.

In baseball terms, Beers had hit a double, while Jackson launched a grand slam deep into the upper deck.

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

The bittersweet tale of the two photographers, two cameras and two images made on Nov. 24, 1963 was told splendidly a few years ago by Michael Granberry of the Morning News, a lovely story that became an instant classic amid the canon of assassination journalism.

timesheraldWhile the career of the widely feted Jackson soared, Beers never stopped blaming himself for missing the shot of a lifetime; sick with depression and heart disease, he died at 51.

From that moment on, Mr. Beers “never had as much confidence in himself,” says his daughter, who describes him as “feeling let down. Not by anybody in particular. More by fate, I guess. He always felt like, ‘Why have I had to struggle so hard to finally get the picture and then not get it?’ “

Scott Sommerdorf, a major league photographer and Chief Calbuzz Photo Editing Consultant, explains some of the technical differences between the two photos this way:

“Timing, and composition come into play in assessing these two photos,” he said. “An old phrase; ‘If it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough” is applicable here.

morningnews“(Beers) is  just not close enough to fill the frame – one of the things we always look to do. Jackson’s shot is tighter and gives us more impact when we can read the faces on the men in this frame.

“We could improve Beers’ photo with a crop to make it tighter, but Jackson’s is still superior because of his slightly better timing,” he added. “Of course neither photographer could have planned for this, but Jackson’s timing was much better. Jackson’s is one of just a handful of classic photos we can all easily recall, and the timing is the key to its power.”

What the news business is really like: It’s a plain fact that reporters are different than normal human beings, due to their lack of what we might call the Basic Human Decency and Sensitivity Gene.

So behind the scenes, the events of November 1963 — as horrible and tragic as they were for President Kennedy’s family, the nation and the cause of world peace — were for Beers, Jackson and the staffs of both Dallas papers one helluva’ hometown story, an occasion for their day-to-day caustic and aggressive competition against each other to be elevated to an unprecedented level of ferocity.

Bob-Jackson-at-Barry-Whistler-Gallery-in-Dallas_140053A rare glimpse of that hard-core newsroom perspective may be found in “JFK 50,” a one-hour, online documentary prepared by the Morning News, the only surviving paper in Dallas, as part of its weeks-long spectacular coverage of the anniversary.

“And then we were getting the reports that we’ve got a helluva’ photograph,” recalls Jim Ewell, a reporter for the morning paper, “That Jack Beers had got the world breaking photograph of Ruby shooting Oswald.”

Jackson remembers feeling deeply anxious upon his return to the Times Herald newsroom, unsure of what he captured in his camera of the Oswald shooting:  “Jack Beers’ picture was already on the wire,” he says in the documentary, “and there was a little group of people out at the wire machine looking at it and they called me over and said ‘Do you have anything as good as this?’ And I said, ‘I’ll let you know after I run my film.’” (Photo above © Allison V. Smith)

(Memo to the pre-septuagenarian crowd: once upon a time, long before pixels were invented, photos were taken with something called “film” that was “developed” in a “darkroom” using baths of chemicals and water. But we digress).

castleberry_photoTake that, you bastards: Jackson again: “So it was a pretty tense moment. So I went in, ran my film and (the photo editor) was standing right outside the door. I remember holding up the wet negative, you know and looking at it, and it looked sharp, that was the first thing, it looked sharp.”

Reporter Darwin Payne was one of those hanging around the newsroom, desperately hoping that Jackson had something better than Beers: “There it was, in the water, I guess that’s what it was, cleaning off some of the chemicals, and I said ‘there’s the Pulitzer Prize winner.’”

Vivian Castleberry, one of the few women writers on the paper and the story, recalls the moment she saw the photo this way: “All of Dallas could have heard the screaming from that room when he developed that picture and the image came out of what he had.”

Jackson: “And I remember lettin’ out a yell of some kind and so we made a wet print…and carried it out to the newsroom and then we realized we beat the Dallas News.”

nschiefferhatA footnote to the story: Bob Schieffer, now a CBS-News honcho, but then a grunt reporter for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, remembers that his editors grabbed the Beers photo off the AP wire and quickly slapped it on the front page of his paper:

“And I grabbed a bundle of those papers myself and took it down to Dealey Plaza and sold them, started selling them, like a paperboy down there ‘cuz this was such a huge scoop,” says Schieffer, “and what made it such a sweet scoop, there was such competition between the Dallas News and the Star Telegram in those days, we were on the streets of Dallas with the Dallas News picture on our front page, on the streets of Dallas, before the Dallas News got their first edition out.”

God we love the news business.

P.S. Another good yarn about a great journalistic performance on 11/22/1963, h/t Rob Gunnison.

Op Ed: Young Man’s Hope for Spirit of California

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

goldengateWhile your aging Calbuzzards are feeling pretty downcast and pessimistic about the future of the state and the nation under the Trump Regime, we’re delighted to offer a brighter vision of Thanksgiving from one of our smart, young contributors.

By Patrick Atwater
Special to Calbuzz

On Tuesday Nov. 8, Californians voted in record numbers to reaffirm our commitment to freedom, openness and really just basic human decency.  This fundamental difference in values offers an alternative future for America and indeed the world.

Civilizations succeed when they open themselves to new ideas and new people from new places. There is nothing great in closing off a country from the world.  Simply compare the backwardness of inward-looking medieval Europe – filled with castle walls – to the flourishing in the open minded Renaissance.

appleproductsWe are the world As an alternative to a walled off America, California builds bridges to every corner of the globe.  Every iconic Apple product says “designed in California,” and Hollywood movies inspire millions.  That open and imaginative attitude is exactly what the world needs to build a bright future.

Today, Californians work to automate driving, pioneer personalized medicine and colonize Mars. Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s leadership, California’s economy has growth to the sixth largest economy in the world, and our once-troubled state finances have stabilized.

Yes, California still has its share of problems.  Housing costs prohibit all but the creative elite from affording life in too much of coastal California.  Too many of our roads are chock full of potholes. The quality of too many of our kids’ schools is too often a function of the zip code they live in.  And a lingering drought challenges us to do more to prepare for an uncertain water future.

potholesCommon sense pothole repair Yet fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with California that cannot be addressed by what is right with California.  Gov. Brown’s call for common sense reforms could lower housing costs. New sensors can map potholes radically more affordably and comprehensively.

The web can connect students with opportunities unimaginable a generation ago and help us move beyond our one-size-fits-all public education system. And new data technologies enable new ways to measure and thus better manage California’s precious water resources. 

Today there is a global crisis of confidence in our basic public institutions. Meanwhile, ultimately none of those promising pilots linked above are certain.  Ultimately, they simply highlight a new frontier for public problem solving. Of course, the pioneers’ journey by land and sea to California was far from certain as well.

patrickatwaterToday’s challenges offer a golden opportunity for Californians to bring that pioneering spirit to bear on our pressing public problems.  America – and indeed the world – needs nothing less from California today.

Patrick Atwater is an author, entrepreneur and frequent Calbuzz commentator.  He currently runs a big water data project to prepare California to adapt to our historic drought and whatever the future holds.