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Connecting California

You, Too, Can Be Austin Beutner (No Prior Experience Necessary)

The Ex-Financier Has Run the L.A. Times, the L.A. Department of Water and Power, and Now L.A. Schools. All He Lacks Is Know-How.

By Joe Mathews

    No Californian inspires me more than Austin Beutner.
    Haven’t heard of this Los Angeles investment banker? Your loss. Because following his example could change your life.
    Beutner’s recent career exposes the lies we Californians tell ourselves about our limits. Sure, we want our children to believe they can grow up to be anything they want. But we believe that rising to the top in a field requires years of preparation, not to mention knowledge, and experience.
    Austin Beutner shows us we’re wrong.
    In this decade alone, Beutner has gone straight to the top in no fewer than four fields in the City of Angels—without having to pay his dues in any of them.
    It started back in late 2009, when Beutner convinced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to appoint him to be first deputy mayor of the city of L.A. ...

The Takeaway

The Couple Who Went Searching for America's Future in Its Small Towns

James Fallows and Deborah Fallows Logged 100,000 Miles Through a Nation Divided Politically but Cooperating Locally

By Reed Johnson

The mass-media storyline is that America is a country split between prosperous liberal coastal elites and struggling, resentful conservative heartlanders, spewing vitriol at each other across an unbridgeable partisan gulf.
    But don’t tell that to James Fallows and Deborah Fallows. In their just-published book, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, the couple lay out a road map of a much more complex, contradictory, and hopeful nation, where residents of a number of small towns and mid-size cities are working together to solve civic problems and improve their quality of life—and whether you voted for Donald or Hillary matters less than you might think.
    Before a packed audience at The RedZone at Gensler in downtown Los Angeles, the couple shared some of their stories about this largely overlooked America in a Zócalo Public Square event titled “Are Small Towns Reinventing America?” ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • Here's Your California Democracy. Would You Like Fries With That?

    My Trip to a Wendy's in Colton Shows Why the Golden State Treats Law-Making Like Fast Food

        One recent Sunday night, I stopped by a Wendy’s in Colton, a gritty San Bernardino County logistics crossroads (pop. 52,000) best known as home to one of America’s oldest and busiest railroad crossings. ...

  • O Ye of Little Faith in Los Angeles! Eric Garcetti Has a Message For You.

    If the Mayor of the City of Angels Wants to Be President, His Campaign Should Be a Moral Crusade

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is being coy about whether he’s running for president. But he doesn’t fool me. I’ve already written the speech, or perhaps I should say sermon, that he should give when ...

  • Video Highlights

    Leni Riefenstahl and D.W. Griffith were cinematic geniuses who churned out racist propaganda. The Renaissance master Caravaggio was a murderous rogue. Then there’s the growing list of Hollywood auteurs and actors whose behavior has spawned lawsuits, police charges, and the #MeToo movement. ...