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We Wrote the Book on California

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The homelessness crisis. Climate change. Gun violence. Economic inequality. Are all of these things, and so many other problems we face today, the inevitable results of forces beyond our control? Or are they policy choices? To be more precise, are they the result of years, even decades of policy choices — priorities set by political leaders and voters?

We believe that, to a large extent, they are. That is the theme of How California Works, the first book from California Local. Public policies and government institutions affect all of our lives every single day, for both better and worse, in ways that we often don’t even realize.

Diving deep on topics from California’s distinctive civil grand jury system to Joint Powers Authorities to Mosquito Abatement Districts, How California Works explains, in 47 clear and entertaining chapters, how the state operates, how and where it all originated and how it shapes the daily existence of everyday Californians.

For example, how many people know what a LAFCO is? Do they know that this relatively obscure, rather confusing government board has considerable jurisdiction over how much you pay in taxes, who receives those taxes, and what level of public services — water, sewage, for protection etc. — you receive? Chapter 7 explains it all for you.

Or, to cite another example, you may know that California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But did you know that California’s gun regulation policy has its roots in an unlikely and unintended collision between the Black Panthers and Ronald Reagan? See Chapter 38 for that story.

How California Works is a book for any Californian, or any American, who wants to understand this most American of all states—not only for politics junkies and policy wonks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But How California Works is the book for anyone who wants to see better choices made about our state and society. We hope that by offering thorough and accessible explanations of California issues, our explainers will help Californians become even more involved and thoughtful about our state.

But that part is up to you.

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