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Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good Paperback – May 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


''California faces a dark age without parallel unless Sacramento retrieves the capacity to represent the needs of the majority. This invaluable and urgent book opens the debate on constitutional reform.''--Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and In Praise of Barbarians

''Here's everything you ever wanted to know...diagnoses of what ails California and remedies of every sort...It's a terrific resource for anyone--student, policy maker, political scientist, philosopher--who wants as much as you can jam into one comprehensive volume, and then some.''--Peter Schrag, author of Paradise Lost and Not Fit for Our Society

''California has become a beached whale. Remaking California summons all available hands to its rescue.'' --David Kipen, National Book Critics Circle

About the Author

R. Jeffrey Lustig is a professor of government at California State University, Sacramento. He is the author of Corporate Liberalism: The Origins of Modern American Political Theory, 1890-1920, and he has written numerous articles on American and Californian politics and political theory, the corporatization of the modern university, and on immigration, race, and class. He was director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento, and founding chair of the California Studies Association. He has been a trustee of the California Historical Society and a founder and chair of Northcoast Labor History Project.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597141348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597141345
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,135,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Paul is a Midwesterner by birth, a Californian by choice. Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1948, and mostly raised in Madison, Wisconsin, he moved to California to attend Stanford University and there he has stayed, prisoner to sunshine.

He has been a writer, reader, and politics and news junkie from almost the beginning. In junior high he put up a perfect score on the Time magazine current events test. In high school he devoured John Locke and the Federalist, leavened by Twain and Hemingway. Too young to work for pay, he took his first summer job as a full-time volunteer in the campaign headquarters of the Republican candidate for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat held by William Proxmire. Owing to some weakness at the top of the ticket, 1964 did not turn out to a banner year for GOP candidates, but losing didn't matter--Mark was hooked. Analyzing, writing about, and practicing politics and policy have been his life's calling.

After finishing college and completing all but three dissertation chapters of a Ph.D in U.S. history at Stanford, Mark launched his career in political journalism as associate editor of Inquiry, a public affairs biweekly published by the Cato Institute. That career took him, over the next 27 years, through positions as editorial page editor and national editor of the Oakland Tribune, and editorial writer, deputy editorial page editor, and columnist at the Sacramento Bee, where he won the 2000 Best in the West prize for his editorials on Gov. Gray Davis.

He recrossed the river to political practice in 2004 when he was appointed deputy treasurer of the state of California and served as the policy director for the 2006 campaign of Phil Angelides, Democratic nominee for governor. From 2007-2010 he was a senior scholar and deputy direction of the California program at the New America Foundation, where he wrote about budgets, taxes, immigration, asset building, and constitutional reform for a wide variety of print and online publications.

Mark is husband to Robin Netzer, an artist, master gardener, and community activist. They live in Sacramento in a yellow house that can barely be seen behind the jungle of tall grasses, trees, and tomato vines.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Marino on October 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The collection of authors shows how, since the 60's, legislative reforms and ballot propositions attempting to iron out the kinks in government have created more problems than they've solved, leading to the perverse situation we find the state in today. While a great primer to the history, the position taken by the editor and some prominent contributors that what is needed is a new constitutional convention seems a bit naive, as it assumes that the process would be isolated from the current political climate and that the result would sensible and pristine.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roy D. on September 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jeff Lustig is a recently retired California State University, Sacramento political theorist who has previously served at length as head of the California Studies Program based at CSUS. As such he has had a front row seat for the derogation of California's political system. A couple of pieces of hard and immediate political reality have led him to address the California morass in Remaking California, Reclaiming the Public Good. First, once again, months after the legal deadline the state's legislature and its governor have failed to pass a budget, necessitating, inter alia, that bills be not paid but exchanged for IOU's, a situation that seems incapable of rational resolution. Second, California's mover and shaker class, fearing that its business interest is likely imperiled by the state's inability to do its business, is increasingly calling for a recasting of the state constitution.

Lustig and the contributors he has chosen give us a thumbnail sketch of the state's history. California was a recognized leader among US states from its gilded founding through at least the 1960's; its infrastructure, its education (especially higher) system and its booming postwar (postwar may be a term we no longer need) economy surpassed all others. But California has one of the more unusual constitutions in that it is relatively easily amended by popular initiative. There is no requirement that initiatives be vetted to shed light on how they will interact with the overall body of California law or on what their long term effects will be. Thus, beginning in 1979 when the massive property tax cutting Proposition 13 took effect, halving local tax receipts, the state began a virtual orgy of changing, piecemeal and without coherence, the way governments at all levels within the state function.
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By Jack Deronda on December 26, 2012
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This whole book was more approachably written than I expected, but I was particularly riveted by the chapter "California's Water Crisis: The Delta and Beyond" by Osha Meserve and Erik Ringelberg. This chapter should be required reading not just for policy makers and citizens in the Sac-San Joaquin Delta region, but those thinking about the effects and necessities of water management anywhere.
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