Op-Eds

May 12, 2021

More than a century ago, California adopted a reform movement in response to major corruption in California’s government. The railroads owned political parties, controlled the state Legislature and blackmailed cities in exchange for a rail connection. 

Editorial cartoons and novels depicted the railroads as an octopus with its greedy tentacles clutching statehouses, the economy, farmers and cities. To wrestle power away from the octopus, then-Gov. Hiram Johnson proposed the direct democracy process in his first inaugural address. 

May 1, 2021

California’s highest court recently delivered a major victory for the cause of justice when it ruled that “the common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional.” Under the state Supreme Court’s ruling, judges must now consider a person’s ability to pay when setting bail and can only hold someone in jail before trial in limited circumstances.

March 7, 2021

Think California has a housing crisis?

Here’s what the real thing looks like: 16 million people, all suddenly out of work, all needing places to stay and ways to gain a foothold in the American economy. This was the situation in 1944 and it was a crisis.

The millions were the men and women serving in World War II. Just two weeks after the D-Day fight to take Omaha Beach, and in anticipation of soldiers returning home, FDR signed the first GI Bill, which gave legions of returning veterans a chance to borrow the money for a home.

January 27, 2021

Our criminal justice system is supposed to be based on a fundamental premise: “innocent until proven guilty.” In reality, this basic right is not afforded to millions of low-income Californians, particularly those in communities of color.

At the heart of this injustice is our money bail system. It results in untold numbers of low-income Californians having to languish in jail, sometimes for years, while they await their day in court — simply because they can’t afford to post bail or bond.

November 2, 2020

Two years ago, Cape Town, South Africa, a city of 4 million people, informed its shocked citizens that the city was just a few months away from running out of water due to drought. It was a wake-up call for all of us to become much better stewards of our own water. Luckily, for Cape Towners, innovative water conservation and efficiency measures, smarter data use, expanded water storage, and help from Mother Nature all combined to help them avoid a major water shut off.

October 28, 2020

In a time of global pandemic, living life online seems like the best way to keep our families healthy and safe.

But just as we can’t see the tiny droplets that carry the coronavirus, doing more online carries hidden risks as well, whether we’re Zooming with coworkers, helping our kids with school, or shopping for supplies we can’t find at the neighborhood market.

August 8, 2020

During this unprecedented national reckoning, it is up to us now to seize this moment, at the very time we are in the midst of a world pandemic, to make real and meaningful improvements for communities that have been severely neglected for far too long.

This is why I introduced Senate Bill 369 to establish the California Reentry Commission.

August 27, 2019

These days, all eyes are on California. Our lawmakers frequently make bold changes to address the most pressing issues of our time. In a state that’s home to the innovators of Silicon Valley and the farmers of the Central Valley, we are often on the forefront when it comes to the boundaries we’re willing to push and the policy risks we’re willing to take.

This attention on us means we have to get it right.

July 1, 2019

Over 3 billion people log onto social media accounts around the world. This collective yearning to be connected continues to cause explosions of progress and technological advancements for sites like Facebook and Twitter — for better and, sometimes, for worse.

This interconnectedness comes with a price.

In the fall of 2016, news outlets began reporting a growth in the number of automated accounts — or bots — posting messages related to the major U.S. presidential candidates.

July 17, 2018

by Robert Hertzberg & Nathan Gardels

Last month, three major initiatives were pulled from California’s November ballot after issues raised by the sponsors were addressed in negotiations with the Legislature.

This was made possible by a law passed in 2014. The reform worked as it should on online privacy and lead paint cleanup by replacing the blunt instrument of a ballot initiative with a deliberative process.