How to End the Vicious Cycle of Dysfunctional California Governance

Real Change Means Integrating Our Direct Democracy Into the State's Entire System

California lawmakers and civic leaders are debating changes to our state’s direct democracy. But not one of the proposed changes is bold enough to reach the heart of what’s wrong with our system of initiatives, referenda, and recalls.

When Californians use their direct democracy to qualify proposals for the ballot, and vote to turn those proposals into laws or constitutional amendments, the actions they take don’t have to fit within existing institutions, agencies, laws, regulations, or practices. Our direct democracy exists in its own weird world apart from the rest of …

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People, Not Politicians, Should Reshape Direct Democracy

After Sitting on Four Commissions Over 30 Years, I’ve Discovered Why Legislator-Led Efforts Are Almost Always Bound to Fail

Lawmaking by voters through the ballot initiative process has been popular in California for more than a century.

So why is there near constant talk of altering or limiting California’s direct …

Curing My Daughter’s Colic

A Pediatrician and First-Time Mom Confronts the Limits of Medicine and Learns the First of Many Parenting Lessons

I should have seen this coming. I was too lucky during pregnancy, contending only with a few weeks of morning sickness and a bout of sciatica. By week 37, I …

Goodbye to the Ideas Man for American Cities | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Goodbye to the Ideas Man for American Cities

Bill Barnes, Who Died Last Week, Strengthened and Deepened a 'Republic of Conversations'

When we think of ideas that change our lives, we often think of a great genius, a single discovery, a major technological breakthrough. But often the greater role is played …

Californians Shouldn’t Need a High School Diploma to Go to a Public University

To Make Up for the Pandemic-Era Student Achievement Gap, Our Higher Ed Systems Should Skip the Requirement

Why should you need a high school degree to go to university in California?

In 2020 and 2021, the state’s public schools ditched their students, shutting down K-12 campuses for over …