California State Of Mind

CapRadio & CalMatters

A weekly show helping you make sense of the biggest health, jobs, politics, and more critical events in the world's fifth-largest economy. Because no matter where you live, California is truly a state of mind.

Coming Soon: California State Of Mind
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All Episodes

After a year of California political coverage, California State of Mind is coming to an end. We have really enjoyed this experiment with a weekly California-focused show, and we hope you have too! In this final episode, we reflect on how Covid upended our lives, and politics in a lot of ways. Now that things are cooling down from the Delta surge and the recall is over, what will the political landscape look like for 2022? Nicole peeks inside a crystal ball with Politico’s Carla Marinucci and CalMattter’s Dan Walters. Also, Nigel and Nicole walk us through the highlights, the headlines and the scandals of the past year.

Oct 1

22 min 14 sec

As tensions over racial and economic inequality continue to play out across the country, many people are wondering about the balance of power within their cities and institutions, and how those places spend their money. Some argue that citizens should play a greater role in deciding how to spend their tax dollars instead of relying on city leaders.  The city of Vallejo launched an experiment with citizen budgeting about a decade ago. How is that working out? CapRadio’s News and Features Editor Pauline Bartolone became obsessed with participatory budgeting while covering this story and she joins Nicole and Nigel to explain why. 

Sep 24

22 min 14 sec

As most people know by now, Gavin Newsom gets to keep his job. He’ll stay on as California’s governor, surviving the special recall election with an almost 2-to-1 margin. Will it change how he governs the Golden State in any way? Do Republicans have a future in leadership here? And what did we miss while we were all paying attention to this off-year election? Nicole talks with CalMatters Reporters Ben Christopher and Laurel Rosenhall about lessons learned from the recall and how it may have played a role in this year’s drama-free legislative session.

Sep 17

22 min 14 sec

The recall election for California Governor Gavin Newsom is on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and things are ramping up on the campaign trail. The White House is showing support for the governor, but some Californians are not fans. They’re critical of his handling of wildfires and haven’t forgotten the huge mistakes at the unemployment department.  On this episode of California State of Mind, Nicole talks with CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven and CapRadio’s Scott Rodd about some of these issues as we head into the final stretch before the election.

Sep 10

22 min 14 sec

California’s ag industry uses 80 percent of the state’s water. As the drought continues, can the Golden State continue to operate its fields as usual? On this episode of California State of Mind, Nigel talks with the person charged with promoting California ag to the rest of the world.  Karen Ross has served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture since 2011. She grew up on a small farm southwest of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, so she’s no stranger to the demands of a working farm. We’ll hear about the drought, almonds and the fate of her football team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Sep 3

22 min 14 sec

There are many sexual assault survivors who never report their experiences to law enforcement for a variety of reasons. And then there are times when they do decide to go to the police. Sometimes, they find the case is cleared, but they weren’t notified or given a reason why.  On this episode of California State of Mind, Nicole talks with CapRadio reporters Sammy Caiola and Emily Zentner. They spent time reporting this story as part of their After the Assault podcast investigation. Hear how one department in the Sacramento area is using a special designation to “clear” rape cases without sending a perpetrator to court. It’s a trend that reporters and researchers have found in several California police departments.

Aug 20

22 min 14 sec

The Delta variant has thrown a wrench into California’s plans to resume life as normal, as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase across the state. Amid this summer surge, school districts, teachers, parents and kids have been getting ready to return to classrooms without a statewide mandate requiring vaccinations for teachers. That changed this week when Gov. Newsom announced all teachers must be vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. Nigel talks with CalMatters’ education reporter Joe Hong about what changed. We’ll also hear from CapRadio healthcare reporter Sammy Caiola about how health care workers, who must be fully vaccinated to work in congregant settings, have reacted to the new requirements.

Aug 13

22 min 14 sec

California’s Governor is facing a recall election Sept. 14 and some of the Republican candidates challenging Gavin Newsom recently met for their first debate. Did voters notice? Nicole talks about the state of the recall with two campaign veterans, Garry South and Rob Stutzman. South worked for Democratic governor Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003, and Rob Stutzman was a spokesman for Republican Arnold Schwarnzegger, who replaced Davis in that election. We’ll also hear more about a growing push to change how recalls are conducted in California and what it would take to change those rules with Kim Nalder, a political science professor at Sacramento State University.

Aug 6

22 min 14 sec

To jab or not to jab? That’s a question still facing many Californians as the Covid-19 pandemic continues and the Delta Variant makes a surge across the state. But for healthcare and state workers, Governor Newsom is pressing the issue, requiring all private and public employees in those fields to provide proof of vaccination or face weekly testing at work. Meanwhile, the state continues to burn. CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven and Ben Christoper and CapRadio’s Scott Rodd join Nigel to talk about all how the new vaccine requirements and Newsom’s handling of wildfires might play out with voters during the recall election on Sept. 14th.

Jul 30

22 min 14 sec

It’s no secret that the cost of rent and buying a house is one of California’s most persistent problems. And the pandemic has only made it worse. If there’s any group of people you’d think could force solutions on these issues, it’s Democrats. They hold a supermajority in the state legislature and the governor is a Democrat, but many of the housing bills brought up in recent years have failed. As CalMatters’ housing reporter and “Gimme Shelter” podcast host, Manuela Tobias regularly goes deep into the weeds on these issues. She joins us this week to help us figure out why Democrats can’t seem to agree on housing policy.

Jul 23

22 min 14 sec

As Californians continue to bake in sizzling temperatures and parched conditions across the state, they’re also being asked to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 15 percent. Nigel Duara talks with Rachel Becker, environment reporter at CalMatters, about the severe drought and how different communities are confronting the current challenges.

Jul 16

22 min 14 sec

California’s early blazes are prompting renewed fire conversations among lawmakers in Sacramento.

Jul 9

22 min 14 sec

California’s governor misled the public about wildfire prevention efforts, according to a recent investigation by CapRadio and the NPR California Newsroom. Nigel talks with this week’s guest host Scott Rodd about his reporting into the topic and what the data had to say about how many acres of forest have been treated in wildfire prone areas. Also, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall and Byrhonda Lyons spent several months digging into a law that was supposed to put more limits on when police can use deadly force. Nigel talks with them about whether it actually has an impact on police shootings in the Golden State.

Jun 25

27 min 14 sec

A big part of the pandemic recovery process for California will be getting people back out and about. The state is one of the biggest tourism destinations in the world, but the world isn’t totally back to normal yet. To meet that need, the state kicked off a campaign this week to encourage Californians to stay and play in the Golden State. Scott Rodd talks with CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty, who recently spoke with Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta about it. We’ll also hear from the driver of a Sacramento Brew Bike, which relies on tourism to survive.  Plus, California’s budget surplus should be good news for all. But some county health departments are concerned they’ll be left behind. Nigel Duara talks with CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov about why county health departments are fighting for more money.

Jun 18

27 min 25 sec

California is preparing to re-open June 15th following the Covid-19 pandemic, but there’s still a lot of confusion about what that actually means for residents of the state. CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven joins Nicole and Nigel to talk about it. Also, as the deadline for passing a state budget approaches, California lawmakers are grappling with an unprecedented surplus. How did we end up with so much more money than expected, despite a global pandemic? CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall and Ben Christpher break it down.

Jun 11

27 min 25 sec

California looks to lead the way on making amends to Black Americans for slavery and its lingering effects. A first-in-the-nation reparations committee met this week to begin a two-year study. We listen back to an interview with Shirley Weber, who authored the bill Gov. Newsom signed into law that kicked this process off when she was an assemblywoman. She has since been appointed California’s first Black Secretary of State. Also, Gov. Newsom has proposed spending $35 million over five years for “universal basic income pilot programs” in his recent budget proposal. Nicole and Nigel talk with Michael Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton, Calif., who implemented a guaranteed income program in his city. He is now advising the governor on the issue.

Jun 4

27 min 15 sec

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the opening of many campgrounds and state park facilities across California. But this year is a bit different. As the pandemic took hold, outdoor spaces were some of the few places people could safely go. What is the state of California’s State Parks following a tumultuous year of wildfire and a pandemic?  CalMatters’ Julie Cart describes a recent visit to Big Basin, California’s oldest State Park, which was destroyed by wildfire in 2020. We also hear from State Parks Director Armando Quintero about what it will take to rebuild Big Basin in a sustainable and fire resilient way and how the pandemic and climate change have affected his vision for our parks.

May 28

27 min 25 sec

Alex Padilla made history by becoming California’s first Latino senator. He was appointed to fill the seat vacated by now Vice President Kamala Harris. He’s been in the Senate for only four months, but has already found himself at the center of debates over immigration, clean energy and infrastructure. Hear his take on everything from electric-powered manufacturing plants to what his pandemic year was like.

May 21

27 min 25 sec

Gavin Newsom isn’t the first Governor to face a recall in California and he likely won’t be the last. Nigel Duara talks with CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty about the history of the recall in the state. We’ll also hear from CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall about what voters should expect to happen as the recall moves forward. Also, how should history judge technology’s role in the pandemic response? Nicole talks with Josh Mendelsohn, a managing partner at the venture firm Hangar who spearheaded the idea for a White House task force on using technology to fight the pandemic.

May 14

27 min 27 sec

The California Supreme Court recently handed criminal justice advocates a victory, when it ruled that people cannot be kept behind bars simply because they can’t afford to post bail. State Senator Bob Hertzberg has worked extensively on this issue and he spoke with Nicole and Elizabeth about why he thinks California’s cash-bail system is unnecessary and what lawmakers could do to fix it. Also, California is racing to get as many residents vaccinated as fast as possible. We’ll hear from Anna Ibarra and Scott Rodd about obstacles to getting shots in the arms of the state’s hundreds of thousands of migrant farm workers.

Apr 30

27 min 25 sec

California has set some pretty ambitious climate goals. By 2045 all energy has to come from renewable sources - solar, water and wind. Nicole talks with environment reporter Ezra David Romero about plans to potentially build 800 to 900 floating wind turbines off the coast of California. She also talks with CalMatters’ Julie Cart, who also covers the environment, about another project near the Salton Sea that could potentially help the state store its renewable energy. And, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, some California lawmakers called out for more police reform. Now, with a guilty verdict for the officer who killed him, is there enough political will to make these ideas a reality? CalMatters’ Nigel Duara steps into the co-host chair this week to talk with Nicole about some of the bills California’s Black Caucus would like to see move forward this year.

Apr 23

26 min 59 sec

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation this week that allows the state to spend $536 million dollars on wildfire prevention this year, but will it be enough? CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven joins Elizabeth and Nicole to talk about what some critics are calling a bandaid over a gaping wound. They’ll also discuss the state’s inability to get relief money into the hands of childcare providers and why the death of a bill to ban fracking may actually be good news for Gov. Newsom. Then, nearly 40,000 Californians of color have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic started, compared to 18,000 white Californians. Those figures are just one reason behind the ongoing push for equity in vaccine distribution. Nicole talks about that with Dr. Manuel Pastor, the director of the Equity Research Institute at USC.

Apr 16

27 min 25 sec

California is ready to play ball. With Covid-19 cases falling and restrictions loosening, some fans recently found their way back to the baseball field. Nicole talks with Scott Rodd and Anne Wernikoff about what it was like to attend the games in person and how they may be a harbinger for the new statewide reopening plan. Also, California’s nursing homes have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic with more than 9,000 residents dying of the virus. As the pandemic has worn on, that’s led to increased scrutiny of these homes and how they’re managed. Elizabeth talks with Jocelyn Wiener about a CalMatters investigation into nursing home oversight.

Apr 9

27 min 55 sec

California’s public universities are some of the most racially diverse in the nation. But that’s often not reflected in campus police departments. That disparity can affect how police and students interact. Nicole talks with Omar Rashad and Katherine Swartz, fellows with the CalMatters College Journalism Network, about their reporting and what it means to have campus police who look like the students they serve. Also, thousands of K-12 students across California are finally returning to classrooms. Elizabeth gets an update on all things education from Ricardo Cano. And, Lauren Hepler breaks down the on-going drama with California’s Employment Development Department.

Mar 26

27 min 25 sec

They’re in your food. They’re in your drinks. They’re in the air. Microplastics are pretty much everywhere. And California may become the first place in the world to attempt limits on how much of it can be in your drinking water. On this week’s California State of Mind, Elizabeth talks with CalMatters’ Rachel Becker about how the state is planning for possible new restrictions even though there are large gaps in scientific data about how dangerous they are. Also, if you’re still not sure when you might be able to get in line for the COVID vaccine, we’ll have the latest on eligibility rules. And Gavin Newsom starts the fight to keep his job. CalMatters’ Ana B. Ibarra and CapRadio’s Chris Nichols join Nicole in this week’s reporter roundtable.

Mar 19

27 min 25 sec

It’s been almost a year since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order in response to Covid-19. In his first State of the State address since the pandemic began, the governor stayed positive, but acknowledged the extreme losses of life while touting his achievements managing the state in an unprecedented pandemic. CapRadio’s Scott Rodd joins Nicole and guest host Nigel Duara to break down the speech and what it might mean for recall efforts against the leader of the Golden State.  Plus, California’s never-ending housing crisis continues to never end. Nigel talks with CapRadio’s Chris Nichols about an effort in Sacramento to build affordable, multi-family homes in the cities’ neighborhoods.

Mar 12

27 min 27 sec

Despite the pandemic recession, some people have been able to save and pay down personal debt. But a lot of Californians are still struggling. On this episode of California State of Mind, we’ll explore what that mixed financial picture means for policymakers. Nicole talks with reporters Jackie Botts and Laurence Du Sault about their reporting on the issue. And we hear from a San Diego woman who had to take out a title loan on her car while struggling to get unemployment benefits. And there’s a new plan to encourage some schools to reopen across the state. Elizabeth talks with Ricardo Cano about California’s legislative package and how it might help get kids back in the classroom.

Mar 5

27 min 27 sec

It’s been almost a full year of nonstop crisis management for public health officials, with nary an end in sight. As the pandemic continues, Nicole and Elizabeth sit down with California’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris to talk about how the state is doing and what the past year has meant for kids.  Plus, Nicole touches base with two small business owners who are trying to ride out the pandemic. Rosey Ibarra owns Social Salon Suites in Glendale and Al Griffin is the co-owner of the Placerville Public House in Placerville. They update Nicole on how their businesses are faring.

Feb 26

27 min 26 sec

She was the first woman to serve as White House press secretary and now she’s spearheading California’s economic recovery efforts. On this episode of California State of Mind, we hear from Dee Dee Myers. She recently spoke with CalMatters’ Lauren Hepler about her new role as the state’s business and economic czar. We’ll hear portions of that conversation as Lauren breaks it down for Elizabeth. Plus, we take a look at how the state attorney general’s office might change under new leadership and get an update on how the state is tracking COVID variants. CalMatter’s Laurel Rosenhall and CapRadio’s Scott Rodd sit down with Nicole to talk about these stories and more.

Feb 19

27 min 15 sec

The Golden State continues to grapple with some big issues made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. On this episode of California State of Mind, Elizabeth and Nicole chat with Emily Hoeven about the state’s Covid vaccination plans, the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, and the continuing lack of a plan to get kids back into schools. Emily writes a daily newsletter for CalMatters and shares some of her insights. Speaking of education, while state and local leaders have spent months trying to figure out a safe return to in-class teaching, tens of thousands of kids have simply dropped off the rolls. Nicole gets an update from CalMatters Education Reporter Ricardo Cano.  Plus, Lunar New Year is underway and it’s a time of celebration for many, including Vietnamese-Americans and the business districts they support. In Sacramento, one of these places is seeing some change as a younger generation is moving out. Elizabeth talks with CapRadio’s Sarah Mizes-Tan about what a place like Little Saigon means to Asian-American identity.

Feb 12

27 min 14 sec

If there’s something wrong with how your workplace is handling COVID protocols, who do you call? The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as Cal/OSHA. This state agency is tasked with providing protections for workers on the job, but critics say Cal/OSHA has fallen short on enforcement. Jackie Botts has been covering this issue for CalMatter’s California Divide collaboration and she joined Elizabeth to explain what the agency is supposed to do and how it’s fallen short.   Also, another state agency is under fire for its handling of unemployment claims during the pandemic. CalMatters’ Lauren Hepler has an update for Nicole on the California Employment Development Department and we’ll hear from CalMatters’ Nigel Duara about what the extension of the eviction moratorium means for renters and landlords.

Feb 5

27 min 49 sec

This month marks the midpoint in Gavin Newsom’s term as governor of the Golden State. Has he been able to deliver on some of the big promises he made at the start of his term? On this episode of California State of Mind, Nicole talks with fellow CapRadio colleagues Scott Rodd, Chris Nichols and Ezra David Romero about how Newsom has done in his first two years on issues involving technology, the environment and the unhoused.  Also, California leaders are facing criticism for the state’s slow and confusing Covid-19 vaccine process. A more stream-lined system was unveiled this week but it’s left advocates concerned about equity. CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov joins Elizabeth with an update.

Jan 29

26 min 59 sec

Joe Biden is now the 46th President of the United States and he faces a number of challenges from social unrest and pandemic response to climate change. On this week’s California State of Mind, we’ll hear what his administration can learn from California’s response to the climate crisis, and what ideas it might not want to replicate. CapRadio’s Environmental Reporter Ezra Romero and CalMatters’ Rachel Becker join host Elizabeth Aguilera to share their reporting and observations. Also, the state has now topped three million cases of COVID-19 and Californians up and down the state are having a tough time figuring out when and where they can get vaccinated. Host Nicole Nixon and CapRadio Healthcare Reporter Sammy Caiola explore why the process seems so confusing, and where you can go to find help.

Jan 22

30 min 9 sec

Patricia Mendoza is a single mother of two living in San Diego county. She was laid off in April from her job as a medical driver, and struggled during the pandemic to make ends meet. Now she faces the possibility of eviction. You’ll hear her story, plus Nicole talks with CalMatters reporter Nigel Duara about the state’s efforts to help people in these situations. He initially profiled Patricia for the series, Staying Sheltered, which explores income inequality in California through the lens of housing.  Also, what is it like for nurses working with COVID-19 patients in California’s hospitals? Elizabeth speaks with Deborah Burger, President of National Nurses United, and Sara Colgrove, a nurse at UC Davis Medical Center, about their experiences.

Dec 2020

28 min 43 sec

CapRadio Reporter Chris Nichols met Greg Tarola on the streets of Sacramento. He was one of many who found himself unhoused during this pandemic. In this week’s episode of California State of Mind, Chris joins Elizabeth to talk about Tarola’s plight and CalMatters Reporter Matt Levin weighs in on the state’s efforts to tackle homelessness during the pandemic. Also, how are students doing with distance learning nine months into the pandemic? Nicole talks with CalMatters Reporter Ricardo Cano about the struggle to keep kids involved.

Dec 2020

28 min 24 sec

California’s beleaguered Employment Development Department, which handles unemployment claims across the state, has been in the spotlight since the beginning of the pandemic in March, when millions of people found themselves suddenly out of work and in need of financial help. That help was slow to come for many Californians. CalMatters Economy Reporter Lauren Hepler talks with host Elizabeth Aguilera about the challenges unemployed Californians are having and what the state is doing about it. Also, we hear from people across the state who recently navigated the unemployment system with the help of a Facebook group. Nicole Nixon talks with a filmmaker in Los Angeles who started the group, a substitute teacher in Orange County and a couple in the Bay Area about how they made it work while waiting months for their payments.

Dec 2020

28 min 4 sec

Most of California is grappling with new rounds of COVID restrictions as infections are rising. Added bonus: A curfew for nearly all Californians. How are small business owners grappling with these new rules? Nicole sits down with the owners of a brewpub (Al Griffin, co-owner of Placerville Public House), a yoga studio (Jean Marie Moore, co-owner of Anasa Yoga in Oakland) and a salon (Rosey Ibarra, owner of Social Salon Suites) to discuss how they’re adapting and their concerns going into the holiday season.  Also, since the election, there’s been a lot of chatter and hand-wringing over the so-called “Latino vote.” Elizabeth invited two guests to explore and explain what’s really going on with Latino voters in the Golden State and across the country: Sonja Diaz, Founder of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, and Gustavo Arrellano, LA Times Columnist and author of “Ask a Mexican” and “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.”

Nov 2020

34 min 20 sec

The election is over, but many questions still hang over the Golden State. Who will replace Kamala Harris in the Senate? What happens if the Affordable Care Act is struck down? This week, Nicole sits down with California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to talk about election news and the possibility of moving to the Senate. And the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case defended by California that aims to strike down the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The implications for Californians could be huge. Elizabeth asked Emily Bazar and Angela Hart of Kaiser Health News and Sammy Caiola of CapRadio to explain what’s at stake.

Nov 2020

32 min 48 sec

California proposition results say a lot about who we really are as a state. Hosts Elizabeth Aguilera and Nicole Nixon discuss some of the biggest takeaways from this year's election with a variety of CalMatters reporters. You’ll hear from reporter Lauren Hepler, who has been tracking the battle between gig companies and labor unions and what the passage of Prop 22 means for drivers and consumers. Also, where do Californians actually fall when it comes to criminal justice? Reporter Byrhonda Lyons explains what happened to the three propositions you were asked to vote on. Plus, reporters Laurel Rosenhall and Ben Christopher explore what the results say about California’s politics. And as schools continue to struggle in myriad ways (including funding), voters might strike down a potential boost to California education. Reporter Ricardo Cano has the latest on why Prop. 15 is such a close race.

Nov 2020

32 min 29 sec

You’ve heard it before: This election is different. But how? Voter data expert Paul Mitchell joins us to explain how mail-in voting became a partisan issue, and why this might mean long lines at voting centers for some people on Election Day.  Also this week: What’s it like to vote in-person during a pandemic? Or, what if you’ve lost your home — and possibly your ballot — in a wildfire? And, should you still mail your ballot? Nicole gets answers from Libby Denkmann, who covers politics for KPCC in Los Angeles; Isabella Bloom, a reporter with the Votebeat collaboration; and Ben Christopher, politics reporter for CalMatters.

Oct 2020

31 min 16 sec

Social media companies are trying to battle false information this election cycle through a variety of tactics. PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols pulls back the curtain on just how widespread this problem is and gives advice for how to sort through it all. Then, there’s a record amount of cash going into this year’s ballot measures. What do Californians think about having to vote on all of these props.? Elizabeth discusses with CalMatters political reporter Laurel Rosenhall and Mark Baldassare with the Public Policy Institute of California.

Oct 2020

31 min 3 sec

More than three decades of conservative-friendly laws could be undone this November. Our co-host Elizabeth Aguilera chats with CalMatters politics reporter Ben Christopher about how California used to be at the vanguard of conservative thinking and policy, only to now be a punching bag for the right. Also: co-host Nicole Nixon talks GOP ballot boxes with CapRadio’s Scott Rodd and CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven.

Oct 2020

24 min 20 sec

Politics shape the lives of every Californian. Hosts Elizabeth Aguilera and Nicole Nixon introduce the California State of Mind podcast from CalMatters and CapRadio.

Oct 2020

21 sec