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Joe Mathews is Connecting California columnist and California editor at Zócalo Public Square, an Ideas Exchange that is a project of New America and Arizona State University.
A fourth-generation Californian, Joe studies his home state and its politics, media, labor, and real estate. He is co-author, with Mark Paul, of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California Press, 2010). His previous book was The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy (PublicAffairs, 2006), an account of Governor Schwarzenegger’s first term and his use of ballot measures as governing tools.
Joe also serves as a fellow at ASU's Center for Social Cohesion and as a professor of practice in ASU's School of Public Affairs, where he has launched an online course and global academy on direct democracy. His work appears in The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The American Prospect, POLITICO, The Scientific American, Los Angeles Magazine, and Fox & Hounds Daily.
Before joining New America, he was a reporter for eight years at The Los Angeles Times, where he covered state and presidential politics, education, labor, and the city of Compton. Previously, he covered the Justice Department for The Wall Street Journal. He began his career in 1994 as a reporter on the city desk of The Baltimore Sun, where he wrote about urban issues and the environment. His coverage of a down-on-its-luck neighborhood of former slaughterhouses earned him the incomparable title, “Bard of Pigtown.”
As a Los Angeles-based fellow, Mr. Mathews examines California’s governing system and issues of voting and political engagement. He also serves as co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy — which brings together academics, journalists, activists and other experts on initiative and referenda.