1st Edition

Not So Golden After All The Rise and Fall of California

By Larry N. Gerston Copyright 2012
    342 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Quality public education, modern highway systems, and reasonably priced housing—these are just some of the qualities that once made California one of the most desirable places to live. Just a few decades later, the state finds itself with an education system that is failing its citizens, one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and a quickly evaporating dream of home ownership.

    Illustrating each step of the breakdown that led to its current state of dysfunction, Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California provides insight into a system gone amuck. It addresses complicated topics in an engaging manner to help the public and leaders alike understand how to make policies that balance expectations with outcomes. Key political themes covered include disconnected institutions, perpetually unbalanced budgets, immigration, voter ignorance, interest group influence, and dysfunctional institutions. Investigating the gridlock that has become all too common within the state’s legislature, the book:

    • Demonstrates the impact of the state’s inability to generate sufficient revenue, particularly for public education and an under-trained workforce
    • Highlights the problems created by poor land use planning —from suburban sprawl and government waste to inefficient use of agricultural land
    • Examines how interest groups have been able to wrest control of the processes that were created to keep them in line
    • Identifies the duplication of efforts and other inefficiencies at the state and local levels

    Author Larry Gerston leaves no stone unturned in his discussion of California's economy, position on the Pacific Rim, cultural diversity, land and water issues, and its relationship with the federal government. He examines the state’s infrastructure, natural resources, immigration issues, education, finance, healthcare, civil rights, planning and development, security, laws, political parties, and power structures to provide civic leaders and policy makers with the understanding required to restore the sheen to this once glistening paradise.

    The Contra Costa Times discussed Larry Gerston's recent Commonwealth Club lecture in a May 17, 2012 article.

    Read an interview with Larry Gerston in The Mercury News.

    California Dreaming—Not!
    The Turnstile Society
         Comings and Goings
         Uneven Opportunities and Consequences
    Upside Down State
         The Land
    Broke and Falling Further Behind by the Day
    Countless Pieces of an Unfinished Puzzle
         Public Education
         Highways and Byways
         Environmental Stewardship—A Plus and Model for Other Improvements
    Weakened Political Capacity
    The Lost Luster—Where Has It Gone and How Do We Get It Back?

    The Canary in the Mine
    The Land of Movements and Trends
         Nonconformist Lifestyles
              Aimee Semple McPherson
              Robert Schuller
              Rick Warren
              Other Participants
    The Growing Chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots
         Income and Taxation Patterns
              Personal Income and Poverty
              Taxation Disparities
              Income and Taxation Patterns in Perspective
         Public Education
              K–12 Public Education
              Higher Education
         Social Welfare Programs
              What Safety Net?
    Magnet for Visionaries
         Dreams and Dollars
              Making Movies
              Disneyland and Others
              The Lure of Escape
    High Tech
         Innovation and Entrepreneurship
         Capital Ideas
         An Uncertain Future
    Dreams, Deliverables, and Disappointments


    Immigrants: Cultures and Controversies
    Domestic Migration
         The Call of Gold
         The Railroad
         The Great Depression
         Post-World War II
         Losing Curb Appeal
    Immigrant Patterns
         Native Americans
         Irish and Chinese
         Illegal Immigrants
              The Case for Illegal Immigrants Remaining in California
              The Case against Illegal Immigrants Remaining in California
              An Issue, Yes; a Problem, No
    Persistent Discrimination
         Racism, California Style
    Striking Back
         Zoot Suit Riots
         Watts and Other Cities
         The Fields
    Race and Ethnicity in California’s Shrinking
    White World

    From Farmers to Assemblers to Engineers
    The Agricultural Society
         From Small Farms to Agribusiness
              Diversification of the Land
              Sizing Up
         Farm Power
              Environmental Regulations
         Do Animals Have Rights?
         California Farming: A Lot More than Putting
         Food on the Table
    Manufacturing—Metamorphoses and Mismatches
         The Waning Industrial Base
         Behind Job Losses
         NAFTA and California Manufacturing
         California Manufacturing in Perspective
    Technology and Dot Coms
         Corporate Presence in Name Only?
         H-1B Workforce
         The Power of Green
         Tax Breaks to Keep Businesses Here
         Empty State Coffers
         Trying to Stop the Bleeding
    California’s Economy: Good for the Geese but Not for the Gander

    Life in the ’Burbs—Where There Is No There There
    A Tale of Few Real Cities and Many Pretenders
         East Coast Cities Grow Up, California Cities Grow Out
              Missing Public Services
              Moving Out and Staying Behind
              It’s Still Segregation, No Matter How You Frame It
    Fractured Local Governments: Unnecessary Costs and Duplicative Responsibilities
         Artificial Barriers
         The Costs in Dollars
         Weak Ability to Perform
              Proposition 13
              The Consequences
              Too Much Democracy?
         Misplaced Blame
    Private Interests Take Charge
         Ripping Up Trolley Tracks in Los Angeles
         San Francisco Tweets
         Development of Newhall Ranch
         El Toro Marine Base—When Right Beats Might
         Who’s Really in Charge?
    Making Local Governments Work
         City Leaders and Competing Definitions of the Public Good
         Unconnected Dots

    Infrastructure on the Brink of Collapse
    Parking Lots for Highways
         Dilapidated Roads
         Unwilling to Pay
         Hidden Costs
         Toll Roads—Solution or a Bigger Problem?
         Separating the Haves from the Have-Nots…Again
    Water: Tapped Out
         The Geographical Challenge
         Warring Interest Groups
         Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta: A Pending Disaster
    The Energy Struggle
         The California Model for Clean Air
              Generating Clean Electricity
              Electricity Shortages
              Lingering Challenges
         Automobile Exhaust
         AB 32—The New Standard for Environmental Protection?
    Prison Overcrowding
         Why Growth of the Prison Population?
         The Price of Incarceration
         Prison Conditions: The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back
         Choosing Penury over Safety
    Rebuilding the Infrastructure One Brick at a Time


    Where’s the Party?
    Who Belongs to What?
         Minor Parties
         Nonpartisan Local Elections
    Poor Organization
         The Missing Links
         Management of Nominations
    Meaningless Primaries
         The "Top Two" System
         A Repeat of History?
              "Top Two" for Whom?
    Legislators and Fundraising
         Taking Advantage of Elective Office
         Funneling Funds
    Weak Party Governance
         Where the Lines Are and Are Not Drawn
         The Curse of the Two-Thirds Vote
         Party Rivalry between the Branches
    The Price of Watered-Down Partisanship

    Land of Institutional Gridlock
    The Unwieldy Executive Branch(es)
         The Governor and His Ragtag Band
         The Rest of the Cast
              Meaningful Members
              Duplication Centers
              Overlapping Offices
         The Facts Are the Facts!
    Gridlock under the Dome
         High Vote Thresholds
         Term Limits
         Redundant Houses
         Initiatives—The People’s Legislative Process
    Endless Independent Boards and Commissions
         Major Boards and Commissions: Some Examples
         Other Boards
         The Purpose of Redundancy
         Good Riddance? Hardly
    Gridlock as the Status Quo

    Hijacked! How Powerful Interests Have Taken Over the State
    A Porous Policymaking Environment
         Overlap in the Legislature
         Overlap in the Governor’s Office
              Getting Someone on the Inside
              Redefining Regulations
              Cluttered Bureaucracy Equals Chaotic Policymaking
         Independent Agencies, Boards, and Regulatory Commissions
              Turnabout of the PUC
         The California Gambling Control Commission and Building from the Bottom Up
         Independent Regulatory Units: Not So Independent After All
    Special Interests and Their Tools
              Former Legislators
              Former Bureaucrats
              Former Staffers
              Former Journalists
         The Internet
              Getting the Word Out
              Messaging for Dollars
    Direct Democracy
         The Drafting Stage
         The Qualification Stage
         The Campaign Stage
         The Perils of Direct Democracy
    Of the People, By the People, But Ultimately for the Special Interests

    Bankrupt State
    Inadequate Revenue Collection
         High Taxes
              Personal Income
              The Biggest Slices of the Revenue Pie
         Low Taxes
              "Sin" Taxes
              The Costs of Low-Taxed Industries
         No Taxes
              California Oil
         Taxing Out-of-State-Based Internet Businesses: A Rare Victory
         An Out-of-Whack Revenue System
    Spending in a Straitjacket
         Mandated Programs
              Unfunded Programs
              Funded Mandates
              Problems with Mandated Spending
         Constitutional Restraints
              Limits on Moving Local Revenues to the State
              Increasing the Vote Threshold for State Fees
         Lowering the Legislative Spending Vote Requirement: A Minor Victory
         Impact of Minimalism on California
    Bonded To Bonds
         Extent of the Crisis
         Bond Abuse
              Misleading Proposals
              Schwarzenegger’s Dubious Legacy
         Bonds in Perspective
    No Way Out?


    Can This Patient Be Saved?
    A Lack of Direction
    Policies Determined by the Few
    What Should Be Done?
         A Constitutional Convention?
         We Must Invest
         We Must Increase Revenues for Those Investments
              Spread Out the Sales Tax Structure
              Bring "Sin" Taxes into the 21st Century
              Tax Those Who Have Not Been Taxed
              Reform Proposition 13
    We Must Remove Bottlenecks to Public Policymaking
         Streamline Commissions and Boards
         Merge Overlapping Elected Offices and Agencies
         Eliminate Legislative Term Limits
         Time for a Unicameral Legislature
         Restructure Direct Democracy
         Redefine State/Local Fiscal Relationships
         Merge Local Government Units
         Challenges to Widening the Political Bottleneck
    A Little Kumbaya Wouldn’t Hurt
         Training and Education
         Political Efficacy
    Finding Common Purpose Again



    Larry Gerston is a professor of political science at San Jose State University and the political analyst at NBC11 (the Bay Area NBC station). He has written ten other books in addition to Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California, including Politics in the Golden State, Recall!, and California Politics and Government (all with Terry Christensen). In addition to his larger works, Gerston has penned more than 100 op-ed columns in newspapers including the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. Frequently interviewed for his political insight, he has appeared on NBC Nightly News, BBC, NPR, and CNN’s Inside Politics.

    Self-knowledge is a requirement for self-correction. In its candor, comprehensiveness, and call for reform, Not So Golden After All offers step number one in the political twelve-step program upon which California must embark if it wishes to redeem its heritage.
    —Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California & California State Librarian Emeritus