Gavin Newsom

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Gavin Newsom thinks hackers may be the key to good government. California's lieutenant governor and San Francisco's former mayor says officials are often hampered by old equipment and policies. But he thinks the tech community can step in and create apps for better bus schedules, carpooling systems and tracking your tax dollars, among other things. Lt. Gov. Newsom joins us to talk about his new book, "Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government." We'll also talk to him about his push to keep jobs in California, and his reportedly rocky relationship with Governor Jerry Brown.

Interview Highlights

On Gov. Jerry Brown and Job Creation

"I would just like to see us do a little bit more on jobs because we have 1.8 million people unemployed, we still have the third highest unemployment in America at 9.7percent. Imperial County's at 25.5 percent, you can't make that up, Colusa County's not far behind. Meanwhile, you have counties like Marin at 5.5 percent. So we have two different Californias even though we're living in the same state. And I think we need to reconcile that, reconcile our poverty issues, and get serious about job creation and job retention. I think Gov. Brown is more than capable of doing that, I just want to see him in the next to years put the kind of energy he put in the last two years into the issue of the budget, put it into to the issue of jobs and the economy. "

On Millenials

"They're more empathetic, this millennial generation, more engaged peer-to-peer, than any generation in history. But they're taking matters into their own hands, they're going to choose donors, as opposed to waiting in line up in Sacramento to get into a hearing that's dominated by the persuasion industry, lobbyists and special interests. They're rather doing direct connections on, or going to Indiegogo, or jumpstarting their opportunities to raise money and support causes they believe in with Kickstarter.

Malcolm Gladwell calls this the slacker generation, he's just missed the point. And the objective facts bared out he loves being the contrarian, and he got a lot of attention for that, but he's wrong. This is a whole new generational shift, you've seen it in media, it's flattened the media industry."

On Government Transparency

"Even though the American people overwhelmingly support the drone initiative, it just inures to less trust and goes to your question, why are people not engaged? Because they don?t have that trust. Even if they like the president and like the drones, they don?t like the secrecy. And that's what's got to be changed."

On the Argument for an Open Government

"Right now we have a government that acts like a vending machine. David Kettle years ago wrote about this analogy and I loved it, the idea of a vending machine is that you put in your taxes, you get police, fire, healthcare, education, defense, but you have limited choices. Someone else is making the determination of what's in the machine. That's the government we have today, it's a framework of scarcity. And if you don't like the machine or what's in the machine, you shake it -- [such as] the Occupy movement, the Tea Party. What we're looking for, and what I'm arguing for with this open government is a government 2.0 framework, government as a platform that recognizes the concern of your question, that we recognize that we can't necessarily solve all of our problems."

On the Public Private Pay Gap

"The problem with talent in the private sector is self-evident, how are you going to get the best and brightest in the public sector, particularly in information technology, and the answer is we won't. We're not going to able to compete in that respect. So it's all about opening up this platform to third-party developers. It's about taking up information, putting it up online the same way that Steve Jobs looked at the iPhone.


Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor of California, former mayor of San Francisco and author, with Lisa Dickey, of the new book "Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government"


Steve Jobs didn't put together 80,000 apps that work on the iPhone platform today, he only did about 12. He said 'We're not in the apps business, we're going to open that up to the private sector.' And that's the way I see a framework of abundance. That's the way I see a framework of government in the future. It's trying to create a framework of engagement with citizen developers and with the private sector to initiate a lot of these solutions particularly as it related to the ubiquity of the cloud, the move to mobility, and the opportunity to engage with those who have the expertise to solve problems at a local, state, and national level."

On Education Reform

"The last 150 years the education system hasn't changed. If someone came back to life today someone would see the exact same classroom they saw 150 years. I mean Sal Khan, these guys, they get it. It makes the issue of tenure and seniority, those issues are so dull, so stale. I listen to all these people screaming and yelling at each other, and creating all these organizations, and billionaires spending all this money on trivia. You want to get serious about education reform, you can't reform it, you've got to design something completely different than it is today. You've got to look at blended learning, you've got to look at flipping the classroom. You've gotta look at these tools of technology to completely shift the mindset of how we engage in a more Socratic way."