CALMatters | Palo Alto Online |

CALmatters is a Sacramento-based nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. It works with more than 130 media partners throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences, including Embarcadero Media (publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly and The Almanac in Menlo Park and their websites.)

Here are the most recent stories reported by CALmatters' team of journalists:


My turn: Jerry Brown must not grant mass clemency to death row inmates

Anti-death penalty activists are calling on Jerry Brown to commute all death sentences in California. Like all governors, Brownis vested with a broad power to grant clemency. With that broad power comes the responsibility to use it for its intended purpose and not to block laws where the governor merely disagrees with the people’s decision. The responsible choice, the respectful choice, the democratic choice is to just say no to blanket commutation.

Tue, Dec 18, 2018 10:57 am
My turn: What approval ratings say about Jerry Brown’s legacy

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature took the drama out of the annual budget process, passed popular laws on education funding and climate change, responded to crises such as drought and wildfire, and maintained a united front against Trump’s unpopular policies. His tenure offers a successful model for governing the state in the future. Will Brown be a hard act to follow for Gavin Newsom? Maintaining fiscal stability and an effective partnership with the Legislature will be the key ingredients.

Mon, Dec 17, 2018 11:37 am
It’s smelly business as usual in LA County

A many-sided battle over control of Tres Hermanos, a 2,500-acre Southern California cattle ranch, is business as usual in southeastern Los Angeles County.

Mon, Dec 17, 2018 12:01 am
My turn: Recalling Jerry Brown’s first Supreme Court choice as his final pick faces confirmation

Rose Elizabeth Bird, the court’s first woman, remains Jerry Brown’s most consequential judicial appointment. It's possible to trace bare-knuckled fights over the judiciary to the ones over her confirmation and retention. Today’s court again is led by a woman, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and its rulings rarely resonate beyond legal circles. But the war on the judiciary continues.

Sun, Dec 16, 2018 9:00 am
My turn: A third party can emerge in California. Here’s a path

A new centrist third party movement should look for allies among the Legislature’s moderate Democratic caucus and New Way Republicans to facilitate productive trans-partisan conversation. Political centrists believe a balanced approach is the best path forward for California, but would be foolish to ignore ideas from others who with different ideological perspectives.

Thu, Dec 13, 2018 12:48 pm
Pension benefits hinge on state Supreme Court case

Cases pending before the state Supreme Court could have a huge impact on the pensions of public employees. They specifically involve challenges to a mild pension reform sponsored by Gov. Jerry Brown but could result in a broader ruling that would open the door to pension benefit reductions.

Thu, Dec 13, 2018 12:01 am
Harassment case tarnishes Sen. Kamala Harris

One of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris' top aides resigned after the Sacramento Bee reported the secret settlement on a harassment suit against him, but incredibly, Harris professes ignorance about the suit or the settlement.

Wed, Dec 12, 2018 12:01 am
My turn: What Oakland can teach California about gun violence prevention

Oakland, long synonymous with gun violence, is suddenly emerging as a national leader in the field of violence prevention. Since 2012, shootings are down more than 50 percent and are on pace to reach their lowest levels in decades. California leaders have much to learn from how people in Oakland came together to rewrite the violence reduction playbook.

Tue, Dec 11, 2018 3:18 pm
Water, Obamacare and a GOP shellacking

Good morning, California. “The proximate cause of 22 years of election losses are changing demographics and our inability to connect with non-white voters. … A president with an approval rating in the low 30s in your state can’t be all that helpful to you.”—Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte to NBC News. At the 2016 […]

Mon, Dec 10, 2018 4:30 am
Time ripens for much-needed school data system

California lacks a comprehensive data system to track how well its K-12 students are learning, but that may change with Gavin Newsom's succession to the governorship.

Mon, Dec 10, 2018 12:01 am
My turn: The last time two Democrats exchanged power

It has been 132 years since a Democrat governor of California last turned over the keys to the Capitol’s corner office to another Democrat. Social and technological changes of the past 132 years have been vast. But some political rhetoric is uncomfortably similar.

Sun, Dec 9, 2018 9:00 am
Rethinking California’s electric utilities

With the state's big, investor-owned electric utilities on the hot seat for wildfire damages, maybe it's time to consider making them into fully public entities.

Sun, Dec 9, 2018 12:01 am
My turn: Newsom must prepare for the worst. Here’s a roadmap

The historical record no longer brackets what we can expect in intensity or duration from drought, flood, or wildfire. So we cannot move quickly enough to cut emissions from our millions of tailpipes in California, and we must change state governance, funding, and planning as necessary—no matter how difficult—to get ready for the worst.

Thu, Dec 6, 2018 11:42 am
New water deal isn’t a political certainty

Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy have a deal on water in the San Joaquin Valley but its future is not certain.

Thu, Dec 6, 2018 12:01 am
Jerry Brown’s last stand on pension reform

The California Supreme Court is weighing a key legal precedent that could restore the generous pension formulas Jerry Brown worked so hard to tighten.

Wed, Dec 5, 2018 2:37 pm
My turn: We must build strong children

A child’s earliest months and years are critical to her or his life trajectory. We know that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before age 5. That’s why it’s so important to invest early in our children. First 5 L.A. and First 5 organizations across the state are eager to support our governor-elect in his efforts to build strong children. Like Gavin Newsom, we know we can and should do more to build strong children today.

Wed, Dec 5, 2018 9:00 am
Newsom gets climate advice, Atkins offers ‘Trump insurance’

Gavin Newsom gets expert environmental advice, the feds estimate California wildfires' carbon footprint, Toni Atkins introduces some 'Trump insurance, wrecking levees to avert floods, a possible Newsom advisor, and a California air filter trend.

Wed, Dec 5, 2018 4:30 am
Legislature, Newsom have an ambitious agenda

The California Legislature reconvenes with stronger Democratic majorities that its leaders and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom hope to use for an expansionist agenda, leading off with a comprehensive array of early childhood education services.

Wed, Dec 5, 2018 12:01 am
My turn: We shouldn’t have to pay for gas company’s lobbying

Southern California Gas Co.’s business model depends on selling natural gas. So while many California utilities have begun to plan for the state’s clean energy future, SoCalGas uses ratepayer money to help pay for its lobbying to undermine that future.

Tue, Dec 4, 2018 8:00 am
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