Dan Walters writes for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

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The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.” Politicians are habitually lured by easy money, which is defined as money they can spend without directly taxing their constituents, but somebody […]

The post California politicians lured by easy money, but somebody must eventually pay appeared first on CALmatters.

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The multi-front political and legal war over the direction of California’s immense public school system has a new front. The state Board of Education – and inferentially, Gov. Jerry Brown and the education establishment – want to take a minimalist approach to complying with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Civil […]

The post California’s war over public schools moves to a new front appeared first on CALmatters.

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For months, California’s Republican leaders had, with fingers crossed, hoped that the state’s top GOP officeholder, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, would change his mind. They wanted him to run for governor in 2018, contending that with Democrats drifting leftward in reaction to President Donald Trump, a centrist Republican would have a chance to win. […]

The post Faulconer’s ‘no’ to California governor race could hurt GOP in congressional contests appeared first on CALmatters.

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Notwithstanding his penchant for obscure philosophical aphorisms, sometimes delivered in Latin, at his core Jerry Brown is a largely conventional politician. Therefore, while he repeatedly denies it, as political protocol dictates, he certainly is concerned with the legacy he’ll leave when his record-long, bifurcated governorship ends 18 months hence. Of course, there will be the […]

The post As Gov. Jerry Brown nears retirement, his two big public works projects remain iffy appeared first on CALmatters.

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California’s Capitol is under perpetual siege by lobbyists for hundreds of specific interest groups, each with an agenda of bills it wants enacted or killed. After each legislative session, many of those groups produce scorecards for their members, not only reporting how well their agendas fared, but how the 120 legislators voted on those agendas. […]

The post Most of California’s business-opposed ‘job killer’ bills are stalled out appeared first on CALmatters.

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Knowledge, it’s been said, is power. And that explains, in a nutshell, why those in public office fundamentally dislike, and often resist, revealing information to the voting and taxpaying public. That’s especially evident in Washington, where information is a commodity to be acquired, hoarded and traded – and only reluctantly shared with the larger public. […]

The post Democrats gripe about secrecy in Washington but practice it in Sacramento appeared first on CALmatters.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wants to reclaim the House of Representatives and return to the speakership she held for the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency and the first two years of Barack Obama’s. However, for San Franciscan Pelosi and the Democrats to recapture the House, they would have to not only hold […]

The post Democrats’ hopes for House takeover hinge on California, but it won’t be easy appeared first on CALmatters.

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One of California’s most enduring conflicts is the one between San Francisco and Los Angeles for economic, cultural and, of course, political dominance. San Francisco was No. 1 during the latter half of the 19th century, its dominance fueled by the gold rush and the banking empires it spawned. But Los Angeles came on strong […]

The post California’s north-south rivalry could play out in 2018 race for governor appeared first on CALmatters.