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:


Campaigns try to fool California voters

California political campaigns often try to fool voters into supporting candidates and causes they might otherwise not favor. This year's campaigns include misleading attacks with hidden motives and "slate mailers" that candidates pay for recommendations.

Wed, May 23, 2018 12:01 am
California’s answer to Texas school shooting

Good morning, California. “I feel awful about this” — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writing about her failure as state attorney general to seek new DNA testing for a California man who is on San Quentin’s Death Row for a quadruple murder in Chino Hills in 1983 California Democrats’ […]

Tue, May 22, 2018 4:30 am
Have you seen a campaign ad on social media?

Is your social media feed filling up with political campaign ads? Our reporter Laurel Rosenhall wants to see them. After you submit an ad, Laurel may contact you for a story about how campaigns use social media to communicate with voters. There are multiple ways to submit the ads you see on your social media […]

Mon, May 21, 2018 4:55 pm
Why is Cole Harris spending $2.2 million?

Good Monday morning, California. By tweet, President Trump endorsed Republican John Cox for governor on Friday. Cox tweeted his delight. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy might have been happiest of all. The theory: If Cox is the GOP nominee in the fall, Republicans will have more reason to go to the polls. And they’d vote for […]

Mon, May 21, 2018 4:30 am
California’s primary vote could be decisive

California's June 5 primary election could be more than decisive than usual. Voters could effectively make Democrat Gavin Newsom the next governor by giving Republican John Cox a second-place finish and could spoil Democratic hopes of making big congressional gains in the state.

Mon, May 21, 2018 12:01 am
Prison inmates are down, but costs still going up

Under pressure from federal courts, California has sharply reduced numbers of inmates in state prisons. However, "corrections" costs are still rising and California is now spending $75,000 per year per inmate.

Sun, May 20, 2018 12:01 am
President Trump endorses John Cox for governor—hoping to keep Congress in Republican hands

President Trump threw the California's governor's race into a tizzy today with his surprise endorsement of Republican San Diego businessman John Cox—despite the fact that Cox acknowledges he didn't vote for Trump. The announcement undercut Trump-boosting GOP candidate Travis Allen—and complicated Democratic contender Antonio Villaraigosa's hopes to emerge a victory in California's top-two primary.

Fri, May 18, 2018 4:49 pm
Chilly reception awaits Cristina Garcia

Good morning, California. CALmatters’ editor Dave Lesher and I spent a great Thursday evening as guests of CALmatters’ supporter Lenny Mendonca at his Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., talking politics with a crowd of engaged Californians at his regular Brews & Views. Cristina Garcia’s imminent returnAssemblywoman Cristina Garcia and Speaker Anthony Rendon last year.Assemblywoman Cristina […]

Fri, May 18, 2018 4:30 am
Tesla is on guard for unfriendly legislators

“@realDonaldTrump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA. Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world, are not impressed.” — Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted, with a Pinocchio emoji, referring to […]

Thu, May 17, 2018 4:30 am
Lots of candidates, lots of uncertainty

With dozens of candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor this year, handicapping the June 5 primary election is difficult. The biggest unknown is whether Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will have the luxury of a Republican opponent in November, or will face fellow Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa.

Thu, May 17, 2018 12:01 am
What a $500,000 home looks like around California–and how it shapes where we move

The median price of a California single family home is now well over half a million dollars. That’s more than double what the average house costs in the rest of the U.S. Put a more nauseating way, you could buy two “average” non-California houses for the price of one California house. Can’t decide between the […]

Thu, May 17, 2018 12:01 am
What’s next for aid-in-dying law?

Good morning, California. “It has simply become too difficult and too costly to run a manufacturing business in Sonoma Valley,” Price Pump President Bob Piazza said, explaining why he’s moving his company founded in 1932 in Emeryville to Boise, Idaho — North Bay Business Journal. Death-with-dignity law in jeopardyBrittany Maynard, who spent her final days […]

Wed, May 16, 2018 4:30 am
Jerry Brown once again shuns tax reform

Gov. Jerry Brown once again is warning about the heavy impact of recession on the state budget. However, he continues to shun reforming the state's tax system to reduce revenue volatility and therefore lessen the impact.

Wed, May 16, 2018 12:01 am
Don’t bet on sports wagering yet

Good morning, California. “I had this very nice new wool pantsuit. Put it on. Went to the floor of the Senate Monday afternoon.” – former Sen. Rebecca Morgan. Speaking to the Public Policy Institute of California in Sacramento Monday, Morgan recalled that cold day in 1989 when she became the first woman to wear pants […]

Tue, May 15, 2018 4:30 am
Seeking to help people in need

Good Monday morning, California. “Just 63 nutria have been killed so far. The largest was a pregnant female weighing 24 pounds.” — San Francisco Chronicle, detailing California Department of Fish & Wildlife efforts to eradicate the giant rodents native to South America before they occupy and damage the Delta. Can California finally house mentally ill?  […]

Mon, May 14, 2018 4:30 am
Jerry Brown holds the line in last budget

Despite a surge of revenues, Gov. Jerry Brown holds the line on spending in his final budget. He says state overdue for recession and needs to build reserves to cushion impacts.

Mon, May 14, 2018 12:01 am
Sometimes nice guys do finish first

California’s Republican elite – yes, Virginia, there was once such a thing – gathered in the Capitol on Dec. 15, 1980, to cast the state’s 45 presidential electoral votes for Ronald Reagan. After the formalities, attendees lingered in the state Senate chambers, savoring the moment and believing that Reagan’s election was a harbinger of their […]

Sun, May 13, 2018 12:01 am
How to spend $9 billion-plus

Good Friday morning, California. “We have been in a very long drought. It is my hope that it starts to rain soon,” Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, told me, praying money will rain on his underfunded campaign against Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Don’t forget your mother. Mother’s Day is Sunday. What to do […]

Fri, May 11, 2018 4:30 am
Gimme Shelter podcast: Housing in the governor’s race

Housing has become a major issue in California’s race for governor. With the June primary less than a month away, Matt and Liam dive into each of the candidate’s plans to solve our affordability crisis. First, the Avocado of the Fortnight takes Matt to an extremely hot property in San Jose (2:50). Then a discussion […]

Thu, May 10, 2018 4:36 pm
Gretchen Carlson’s #MeToo Sacramento moment

Good morning, California. “Pesticides classified as human carcinogens or likely human carcinogens were applied to nearly 9.2 million acres statewide in 2016. That’s more acreage than the entire land area of each of nine states.” – Fairwarning.org. Gretchen Carlson stumps in Sacramento. Will it help? Gretchen Carlson speaks at a press conference held by Assemblywoman […]

Thu, May 10, 2018 4:30 am
Brown’s inconsistent education policies

During his first stint as governor four decades ago, Jerry Brown exhibited a willingness to change his mind – or at least his position – on issues large and small at the drop of a hat. He implied that the trait was a virtue and evidence of a superior intellect, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson’s aphorism, […]

Thu, May 10, 2018 12:01 am
Gavin Newsom’s fondest wish

Good morning, California. “Has he endorsed her? No. No one on our team knew these were going out,” Dana Williamson, consultant to Gov. Jerry Brown, said of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s campaign mailers suggesting Brown endorsed the Bell Gardens Democrat. Garcia is running for reelection, but is on leave pending an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against […]

Wed, May 9, 2018 4:30 am
California’s economy now globe’s 5th largest

California was in a bragging mode last week because the state’s economy has climbed in global rankings to 5th place behind only the United States as whole, China, Japan and Germany. It’s a remarkable factoid, certainly, that one American state generated so much economic production – $2.7 trillion last year – that it could rank […]

Wed, May 9, 2018 12:01 am
What’s important for land, sea and air in California’s fight with Trump

The punch-counterpunch sparring between the Trump administration and the state of California over rollbacks of federal environmental regulations is often described as a war of words, with neither the president nor Gov. Jerry Brown giving an inch. Some of the disputes are largely symbolic—foot-stamping gestures from Washington designed to resonate with the president’s core supporters […]

Tue, May 8, 2018 11:52 pm
The open secret about California taxes

California’s tax system, which relies heavily on the wealthy for state income, is prone to boom-and-bust cycles. While it delivers big returns from the rich whenever Wall Street goes on a bull run, it forces state and local governments to cut services, raise taxes or borrow money in a downturn. During the Great Recession, the […]

Tue, May 8, 2018 11:09 am
Brown’s lament as he honors fallen officers

Good morning, California. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Arizona and San Diego Monday announced a new border enforcement policy in which parents who cross illegally could be separated from their kids: “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra: “As a father, the last thing […]

Tue, May 8, 2018 4:30 am
VIDEO: Watch the candidates for governor on how they’d improve California schools

As our own Jessica Calefati has reported, California public schools tell a tale of two education systems. The achievement gap that separates well-off and needy students mirror the socioeconomic and racial disparities across the state. In 2017, 44 percent of white eighth-graders were deemed “proficient” or above on state math tests, while only 10 percent […]

Mon, May 7, 2018 1:15 pm
California Republicans struggle in age of Trump

Good Monday morning, California. “He then slowly inhaled the Pineapple Thai. It was the first time he’d had cannabis, he said, since 1979. ‘Somebody said I’m overdue,’ he laughed.” — Leafly, quoting Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer at his West Hollywood fundraiser last week. The Los Angeles Democrat chairs the Assembly Public Safety Committee, which hears bills […]

Mon, May 7, 2018 4:30 am
California sees slowing population growth

It’s time for some fun with numbers, dissecting a new state report on population trends. The big number is 39.8 million. That’s the state Department of Finance’s latest calculation of California’s population as of Jan. 1. It’s doubtless a little low, since California has a very large number of residents who fly below the official […]

Mon, May 7, 2018 12:01 am
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Best Of Palo Alto ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Palo Alto" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 28th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 20th issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.

VOTE HERE
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