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:
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.
The Turnstile Society
Comings and Goings
Uneven Opportunities and Consequences
Upside Down State
Broke and Falling Further Behind by the Day
Countless Pieces of an Unfinished Puzzle
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
Aimee Semple McPherson
The Growing Chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots
Income and Taxation Patterns
Personal Income and Poverty
Income and Taxation Patterns in Perspective
K–12 Public Education
Social Welfare Programs
What Safety Net?
Magnet for Visionaries
Dreams and Dollars
Disneyland and Others
The Lure of Escape
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
An Uncertain Future
Dreams, Deliverables, and Disappointments
Immigrants: Cultures and Controversies
From Farmers to Assemblers to Engineers
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
The Costs in Dollars
Weak Ability to Perform
Too Much Democracy?
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
Infrastructure on the Brink of Collapse
Parking Lots for Highways
Unwilling to Pay
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
AB 32—The New Standard for Environmental Protection?
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?
Nonpartisan Local Elections
The Missing Links
Management of Nominations
The "Top Two" System
A Repeat of History?
"Top Two" for Whom?
Legislators and Fundraising
Taking Advantage of Elective Office
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
Hijacked! How Powerful Interests Have Taken Over the State
RESTORING THE DREAM
Can This Patient Be Saved?
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