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Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466559240
  • Publisher: CRC Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 342
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

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


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